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Tunnel vision: street-level disruption at Farringdon

Farringdon is to be transformed into a major rail interchange and construction work is underway 

The Farringdon interchange will provide a link between Thameslink, the London Underground and the Crossrail network itself, as well as a railway connection between two of the UK’s busiest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. According to the Crossrail website, “this interchange will become so important to London that Farringdon will re-emerge as a destination in itself”.

crossrail_fact_03In the meantime, work on the Farringdon site has become 24/7 with construction of the new 200 meter platforms and concourse area. A second tunnelling machine is due to arrive in only a matter of months. The first machine reached the site on 9 October to mark the end of the first completed tunnel stretch.

The work hasn’t gone unnoticed though, with some local businesses feeling the strain. Various roads in the area have been partly closed and temporary one-way systems introduced, most significantly on Farringdon Road and St John Street, close to the station itself.

Charlie Young, of the Vinoteca Wine Bar & Shop, explained how the construction work has meant that the front of his premises has been blocked from view on St John Street.

He said, “the regular changes in configuration of the barriers makes it difficult for people to find their way to our shop.”

“The effect on our business is not insignificant,” he said.

“It’s not just the outside, the view from inside is just as bad. We’ve put up a banner of a vineyard to try and keep the atmosphere.”

“It has been difficult to get information about financial support for the business” although obtaining information about the disruption in general has been easier, he said.

Vinoteca Wine Bar & Shop: blocked from view
Vinoteca Wine Bar & Shop: blocked from view

In a statement, Crossrail said that it has “been working with businesses in the local Farringdon area, including Vinoteca, to help minimise the impact of our construction works and maximise the visibility of businesses to passing foot traffic.

“We have worked with Vinoteca to select a type of temporary hoarding that will help increase shop front visibility and the visual aesthetics around the business. Also, Crossrail is installing lighting and signage to direct customers to the business. The hoardings will be removed in December.”

According to a recent information sheet by Crossrail for the local area, the work is taking place to “protect and replace two water mains situated beneath St John Street”. One-way traffic is in operation along St John Street while the works take place. Another information sheet explains that construction vehicles will only use approved routes and waiting areas for access to and from the site entrances.

The station is due to open to the general public in 2018, cutting journey times significantly. Its 200 meter platforms will ensure plenty of additional room for the increased number of passengers. There will be 38 stations on the route between Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

A 24-hour public help desk has been set up by Crossrail on 03456023813 to deal with any queries, or alternatively, members of the public can email helpdesk@crossrail.co.uk. Information about the current works at Farringdon Station can be found on the Crossrail website.

Written by Samuel Gould

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