A new dive-under at Acton, being constructed by Network Rail as part of the Crossrail programme, is now structurally complete and is on schedule to open early next year.
Currently, passenger services passing through Acton are held up by long freight trains entering and leaving a nearby freight yard. The new dive-under will allow Paddington-bound passenger services to pass under the slower freight trains, avoiding delays, increasing capacity and improving reliability.
Construction of the dive-under began in October 2013. More than 34,000 tonnes of earth were excavated from the 5 metre wide site that is surrounded by the operational railway, with freight trains passing on one side and passenger trains on the other. More than 1,400 piled foundations have been installed and construction has involved nearly 40,000 tonnes of concrete and the installation of 730 metres of track.
Electric overhead wires to power trains and signals to control them will now be installed before the first test trains use the dive-under at the end of this year. The dive-under will come into full operation at the start of 2017.
When the route to the west of London fully opens in 2019, the Elizabeth line, which will be run by Transport for London, will significantly improve links to the West End, the City and Canary Wharf.
Matthew Steele, Crossrail Programme Director at Network Rail, said: “This is another great achievement as part of Network Rail’s work on the Crossrail programme. Constructing the dive-under while trains continued to operate on either side of the worksite has been a massive engineering challenge. We will now work to ensure that the final elements of the dive-under are put into place so that trains can begin to use it from the start of 2017.”
Matthew White, Surface Director at Crossrail, said: “The structural completion of the dive-under is another step towards providing people in west London and the Thames Valley with better and more reliable services as part of the Crossrail programme. The Elizabeth line will make it quicker and easier for people to get to a whole range of destinations across London and the South-East.”
A short video about the construction of the dive-under: