The Elizabeth line, London’s newest railway and part of the London Underground network officially opened on 24 May 2022. Working with the client, Crossrail, Grimshaw with Atkins, Maynard and Equation led a unique role on the new line - delivering the line-wide design for the project - a design strategy that brings a cohesive, intuitive and consistent passenger experience.
The new line, which in total serves 41 stations running 100km east to west across the city through 42km of new tunnels, includes 10 new central London stations and the upgrading of 31 existing stations. It is estimated to ultimately carry 200 million passengers per year, increasing the capacity of London’s underground railway network by 10%.
The line-wide design encompasses the platforms, passenger tunnels, escalators and station concourses, including signage, bespoke furniture, fittings, finishes, and technology creating a ‘family of elements’. Taking its cue from the engineering feat of the new line - the complexity and scale of the project - one of the defining features of the design is the treatment of the passenger tunnels and platforms.
At almost double the length and height of standard London Underground stations, these spaces are clad in glass fibre reinforced concrete (GRFC) which ‘shrink wraps’ the structure - sitting tightly against the sprayed concrete finish of the structural lining. This creates a fluid, vast environment with curved junctions in the passenger tunnels which increases sightlines, alleviates the below ground experience and improves passenger flow and safety.