May Update #2: London life sciences hub, Nottingham student development, Sellafield Nuclear Hub, UK Construction Week Transpennine route electrification, Octopus backs wind

Crossrail announces 24 May opening

Crossrail has announced the Elizabeth line will officially open from 6:30am on 24 May with trains running between Paddington and Abbey Wood, until 11pm with trains every 5 minutes. Except for Bond Street which has suffered additional delays and will open later.

The opening follows months of operational testing and finishing touches and in the initial few months the line will only open 6 days a week with more testing and upgrades scheduled for Sundays. The full schedule is planned for Autumn.

The entire network is longer than 100km between Reading and Heathrow in the West to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East. It has 41 stations and will carry around 200 million passengers per year.

The original scheduled opening date was December 2018 however setbacks delayed the opening until now.

A new underground map of London will shortly be released.

HS2 buys new Manchester station


HS2 line has bought a property in Manchester next to Piccadilly station which will become the new high speed station together with another property acquired previously. Construction at the new Piccadilly high speed station includes 6 new platforms and is scheduled to start in 2025 and due to open in 2035-2040.

The 52 mile extension of HS2 to Manchester will chop more than an hour off the current journey time between Manchester and Birmingham at just 41 minutes and halve the journey time from London to Manchester at just 2 hours.

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Elephant and Castle station upgrade

Elephant and Castle station upgrade

TfL has called for bidders to complete upgrade works at London’s Elephant and Castle Station. The project will provide a new station box including entrance and ticket hall, and connect platforms underground but funding has yet to be agreed with the Government as TfL announced it can’t fund the work. The author finds this strangely confusing as during the lockdown every second story was about TfL buying & developing real property for residential purposes not associated with transport in the least. Anyone see privatisation on the horizon?  

Deadline for expressions of interest is 20 May with an industry engagement day in Stratford on 27 May. More info here.

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Hollywood comes to High Wycombe


A Hollywood feature film is scheduled to start being filmed in High Wycombe with temporary studios initially. The final 26-acre site will be commenced later in the year, to be completed over the next 18 months. The owner Stage Fifty already operates 2 other UK locations.  It will include 295,000 sq ft of production space with eight stages, stunt rehearsal space, workshops, production offices, a cafe and parking.

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Newish £150m Covent Garden office block

A new office 11 story block is planned for Covent Garden. it is not really new as the developers plan to A new office 11 story block is planned for Covent Garden.

It is not really new as the developers plan to retain 80% of the original Richard Siefert design. The corner block will be demolished and rebuilt by Lendlease as the main contractor. Gaps and infills between the current tower blocks will also be completed as part of the project. Most of the work will be done on the interior, bringing the building up to modern safety and design standards.

The new development will have the highest rating of energy efficiency and net-zero, with openable windows and rainwater harvesting systems. The development will cost £150m and complete in 2023.

Massive West Midlands warehouse planned


A new £1bn warehouse project in the West Midlands ‘West Midlands Interchange’ will provide a rail freight interchange and provide 8 million square feet of logistics space. At 734-acres, the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange will be the largest logistics site in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. At least 15 warehouse unites will be built over the next 10-12 years. The scheme will transfer freight transport from road to rail, with trucks replaced by trains in the rail system upgrade. Rail generates up to 70% less carbon as one rail freight carriage can replace up to 72 HGVs.