Getting dressed up in less than flattering protectective clothing to visit factories and buildings sites used to be a fairly regular part of my life when I was a TV producer. Now driving the Mum Taxi and visiting museums is more normal. Imagine my excitement when the invitation to the press view of Tunnel: the Archeology of Crossrail at the Museum of London Docklands included a visit to the Crossrail Canary Wharf station.
Foster + Partners have designed Crossrail Canary Wharf from the tip of its 310 metre roof, down through five storeys of roof gardens, shops and restaurants and deeper down to the platform. The building stands in the middle of West India Quay and the station itself is 18 metres below the water level. Even though passengers will not be buying tickets in the ticket hall until late next year, it already has marble on the floor and all eight of the escalators have their canary yellow panels in place informing passengers that they are indeed at Canary Wharf.
Not that those escalators are working yet, we had to walk down the emergency stairs, they will be hidden behind doors and will hopefully never be used by the general public. Next level down houses the 210 metre platform which is yet to get its fancy flooring but the floor to ceiling doors that will separate trains and passengers are in place. We stepped through one of these and into the main attraction, the tunnel. Clever stuff here as well, trains approaching the station will go up a slight incline acting as a natural brake, when the leave they will go down cutting fuel consumption.
Trains will start to run to Paddington in December 2018, a year later the full service from Shenfield to Reading will start. Then a train will arrive at the station every five minutes. I know that every time that I use Crossrail Canary Wharf I will remember seeing it all empty and unfinished.