I had the chance to tour the new Elizabeth Line at Farringdon – an £18b underground line that London is building. To say it is impressive is an understatement. The builders are using a massive round machine – visible in some of the pictures – to bore through the earth, injecting fast-setting concrete through the sides of the machine, letting the concrete set, and then moving on to the next section. Our guide showed us how they are planning ahead for the future, from laying electrical lines and WIFI access to specially-designed holes to allow air to swirl away from an oncoming train without peoples’ hair and papers blowing away. These holes are also being made large enough so that if someone was to fall onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train, they could crawl through to safety under the platforms.
I’m reading Mary Beard’s SPQR, and it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the massive construction works of ancient Rome. Here, of course, they’re not using slave labor, and they proudly count the days that pass without injuries on the job. It’s an incredible feat of engineering, and I’m excited to see it when it opens!