Yesterday was the Farringdon station Open Day, an opportunity for a few fast-fingered members of the public to descend into the actual station where actual Crossrail trains will be actually running in less than six actual months time. We had to enter down the fire escape. By the time you get here, the escalators should be finished.
This is the western ticket hall. Those escalators lead down from the Thameslink ticket hall, at ground level, while behind the stairs will be a direct connection to platform 4. The diamond pattern on the sloping concrete roof is a nod to the station's close proximity to Hatton Garden. Simon Periton's diamante artwork continues around the walls.
Arriving passengers will be funnelled to the rear of the ticket hall where they'll have to double back to join the escalators down to the platform. The back wall doesn't have diamonds on it, so I fear will be the ideal location for an enormous advertising screen, which nobody heading on or off the escalators would be able to miss.
These three escalators will be the transition between the bespoke Farringdon up top, and the generic Crossrail platforms down below. All the lower levels at the central stations will be looking very much like this, so best get used to it.
This is the central concourse between the platforms. At some stations it'll go all the way along, but here at Farringdon it stops after a couple of side tunnels. Something similar happens up the far end, linking to Barbican tube station, but we weren't allowed that far along.
The central concourse is broad and clear with panelled concrete walls, including a layer above head height with spotty indentations. There are no sharp corners here, only softly contoured curves. Here at Farringdon the signage urges departing passengers to walk down to the second entrance, so that arrivals can pour out through the first.
The totem pole signage is unusual, or at least it is to us now, but expect to see it at every central Crossrail station. The elegant symmetry is perhaps an architectural nod towards classic tube stations like Gants Hill. Directions for incoming passengers are on the pole, and directions for outgoing passengers are on the arms.
And yes, the two Crossrail platforms at Farringdon won't be numbered, they'll be labelled A and B. I've seen exactly the same labelling at Custom House, again with A for eastbound and B for westbound, so I suspect this lettering of platforms may be a cross-Crossrail thing.
All the signs are up, including the roundels on the platform, a Legible London map to guide you towards the correct exit, and the "Way Out" arrows pointing to either Farringdon or Barbican. Even the line diagrams are in place, despite the fact the routes they show won't be fully operational until the end of 2019.
What really struck me was the vivid purple colour, apparently tweaked to match the precise colour of the Queen's outfit when she came to open the line. We've not seen this shade on the tube before, so it really stands out. Look at all these interchange connections that'll be possible for the first time. Look very specifically at Tottenham Court Road. Spotted it?
Intriguingly the line diagrams installed at Farringdon have failed to include the Central line connection at Tottenham Court Road. Have the designers messed up? Or is this a deliberate concealment to discourage passengers from changing trains at Tottenham Court Road and nudge them on to Bond Street instead. I suspect the latter. But be it error or white lie, it's not a good look.
And then there are the platforms. The tracks are hidden behind long glass walls, a bit like the Jubilee line on steroids. Doors will open when the trains arrive, and adverts may or may not appear on the panels inbetween. I think the Next Train Indicators are going along the top.
The platforms are very long, but we were restricted to one end. The fitting out didn't look particularly finished elsewhere, almost as if they'd got our end ready first so it would look good on Open Day. But six months should be long enough to get the remaining walls ready, and all the other stations finished, and the trains tested, and everything, probably. Just don't expect to be getting down Bond Street for an Open Day any time soon. [13 photos]