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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

TV: The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway

The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway, for BBC Two, a 3x60” series which takes an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the building of London’s brand new high-capacity subterranean railway.

From the construction of a colossal new train station at Canary Wharf that’s as long as the Gherkin skyscraper is tall and half submerged underwater; to the father and son team of tunnellers burrowing out the new line’s twin tube tunnels beneath the river Thames; The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway reveals the larger than life characters and ingenious technology at the heart of building this new railway line under one of the busiest cities in the world.

As Europe’s largest engineering project, Crossrail will be the first complete new underground line in more than 30 years.  Employing over 10,000 engineers and construction workers, the ten year project is one of the most ambitious undertaken in London since the construction of the Bakerloo, Central and Piccadilly lines in the early 1900s. When completed, 42km of new tunnels will have been built using over 250,000 concrete panels and there will be ten new stations across London.

Episode one, “Urban Heart Surgery”, follows the team of crack engineers as they drive a colossal 1,000-tonne tunnel boring machine through a tiny gap in the congested underbelly of Tottenham Court Road Station – without the passengers on the tube platforms below knowing they are even there.


Episode two, “Tunnels under the Thames”, follows the engineers as they take on a Great British obsession – building train tunnels under water whilst Linda Miller, an engineer more at home building space launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, battles to rebuild a Victorian tunnel under the Royal Docks in London’s East End.

Episode three, “Platforms and Plague Pits”, tracks the team as they battle to put together the giant jigsaw that will become a cathedral-sized station at Canary Wharf. It’s so big, they have to build it in a dock and underwater. And as engineers carve out the underground caverns that will become the new stations, they hit on a gruesome discovery.

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