diamond geezer

 Monday, January 01, 2018

Crossrail opens this year. This year!

This is what a platform roundel looks like. It's very purple.

Actually, if you look closely it's purple and a barely distinguishable shade of blue, because these are the official colours decreed by the brand ambassadors.
Crossrail Purple: Modal colour and the primary way of quickly identifying the service across multiple touchpoints. A bold and assurant purple.
TfL Blue: Provides the reassurance and integration with the rest of the TfL family and is a constant feature across all other TfL rail modes.
White: provides a focus for the other colours and adds balance and order, avoiding overuse of the other brand colours.
I wish I could write gobbledegook like that and get paid for it.

These three colours form the "core colour pallette" for the brand, and will be used as appropriate across all aspects of the new line, including stations, rolling stock, uniforms and marketing. What's more, they ought ideally to be used only in the correct proportions.

I am indebted to Ian Visits for unearthing the official Design Idiom on the TfL website for us all to giggle at.

I wasn't expecting to see my first Crossrail roundel yet, because the brand doesn't launch until December, and its new platforms are almost all out of sight underground. But Custom House is a surface level station not yet in use - a unique state of affairs - so it was just about possible to see the new roundels they've started installing on the platforms. It wasn't easy, though, thanks to the long wall bordering Victoria Dock Road and, more importantly, the fact that the adjacent DLR station is closed.

Which is odd, because the DLR station is supposed to be open.

Custom House station closed in February to enable reconstruction work, the aim being to increase capacity at the station by 50% and enable interchange with Crossrail services. A fresh concourse and overbridge were part of the project, whose completion required the use of 400 tonnes of steel and 300,000 litres of concrete. Throughout the year the public have been repeatedly told that the closure was intended to run until "late December 2017". But something's gone somewhat awry.

Custom House was a permanent feature on TfL's online list of closed stations until 30th December, but on the morning of the 31st it suddenly disappeared, which looked promising. I paid a visit yesterday with high hopes, but no, it was still closed and the train sped straight through.

It took me a while to walk back and see what was going on. Nothing was going on because it was the weekend. All was quiet. Both of the existing elevated walkways into the station were barriered off. The metal supports above the new walkways didn't yet have a canopy on top. A substantial amount of scaffolding remained, encasing the space above the platforms. A concrete mixer was lying around on the upper level alongside bags of cement. The foot of the escalators was sealed behind a blue hoarding. There were several blue hoardings elsewhere on the platforms, and others shielding various upper passageways. It did look like some of these hoardings will be remaining in situ when the station finally reopens... but yesterday was not the day.

Admittedly I turned up with eight hours of December remaining, so it might have been possible for an enormous team of craftspeople to descend on Custom House and sacrifice their New Year's Eve to enable the station to reopen before midnight. But completion would have required a very large team indeed, and TfL later came clean and confessed that their "late December" deadline had been comprehensively missed. A fresh update on their online list confirms that Custom House is now "closed until mid-January 2018 due to Crossrail works", and so the extended closure continues.

And I mention this mainly as a reminder of how extraordinarily complicated the entire Crossrail project is. There are still umpteen platforms to fit out, stations to complete, tracks to check, signals to set and trains to test, not to mention all the other enabling works required before the service can properly launch. So many things could still be delayed, or go awry, or not quite go as planned, before the big deadline on 9th December. If contractors can't sort out a relatively minor DLR revamp during the eleven months scheduled, let's trust Crossrail doesn't suffer a similar stumble somewhere as the next eleven months progress.

Update, 3rd January: TfL have announced that Custom House station will reopen on Monday 8th January, despite work being as yet unfinished. "The work has reached a stage where the DLR station is now able to reopen. However, work will continue to complete the station's full facilities, including a mezzanine deck above the DLR platforms, new station canopies and two additional staircases, by spring 2018.". The press release fails to mention that the station is reopening later than advertised.
Update, 7th January: The station actually opened a day early, around 2pm on Sunday afternoon. It still looks much like it does in my photo, with a lot of blue hoardings everywhere, and is very clearly unfinished.

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