In London, innovation construction methods are saving customers time and money.
The expansion of Vauxhall, which serves the city’s Vauxhall-Battersea district and is one of London’s busiest rail hubs, highlights Transport for London’s investment in projects that support economic growth, employment opportunities, and housing development. It also showcases the engineering and construction ingenuity and creativity needed to transform a working station in the heart of a large metropolis.
To increase capacity, Vauxhall is being reconfigured to allow for more ticket gates and adding wide-aisle gates to ease the commutes of disabled passengers and commuters traveling with cumbersome bags. Also key to this much-needed expansion is the installation of a new elevator that will connect the ticket hall to the train platforms, ensuring step-free access for passengers traveling on the Victoria line.
Rather than drill the elevator shaft from the top down, Bechtel, Transport of London's engineering, procurement and construction partner, opted for an unconventional bottom up approach.
The Benefits of Drilling Up
Though it might sound counterintuitive, Bechtel opted to fight gravity and drill up. Original plans had proposed starting the excavation of the elevator shaft at street level and working downward to the trains. However, starting from the top down would have caused costly diversions to avoid drilling into utility pipes and wires. It also would have forced the removal of large concrete slabs that form the sidewalk and the station’s roof.
“We saw an opportunity for a more innovative and efficient approach … by shifting the start of excavation to below ground level,” explains Matt Lagar, project manager for the Vauxhall project.
This process saved Vauxhall $15 million (£9.7 million) and 20 days.
This isn’t the first time this unorthodox approach has been taken. In the late 1990s, the technique was used with the revamping of the Green Park Tube stop, one of the 100 Tube stations revitalized for Transport for London. That creative technique saved time and improved quality of life for urban dwellers, eliminating the noise, dust and other hassles of a traditional top-down drilling.
A New Era for Vauxhall
The reconfiguration of the Vauxhall station, which is served by both the Victoria line and the UK’s National Rail system, is part of an overall rehabilitation for the once run-down area. There will be pedestrian and bike-friendly areas, as well as the construction of 20,000 high-end homes in Battersea’s Nine Elms neighborhood.
The impact may be felt for years to come: Though more than 21 million passengers currently commute through the station every year, Transport for London estimates that the number could grow by 40 percent over the next few years, as more people settle in the area.