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Magdalena Strzeminska, Crossrail engineer
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a Crossrail engineer

Written by
Danielle Goldstein

…according to Magdalena Strzeminska, 28.

London soil is full of dead people

‘We found plague victims just outside what will be Farringdon’s eastern ticket hall while we were digging a shaft. Archaeologists arrived onsite very quickly, did their thing and took the bodies away. I think they’re now all in the Museum of London.’

Our city is constantly vibrating

‘When you have trains moving underground, everything vibrates. So when you walk around London, look on buildings for little brass nodes called prisms – they’re control points for surveying equipment. Surveyors shine lasers on to them, which bounce back to tell them that the building hasn’t moved.’

There are Crossrail digging machines entombed underground

‘The tunnel-boring machines are the shape and size of the tunnel and look like giant worms. At the front they have huge teeth which munch through the ground. We had four of these machines in Farringdon – two have been taken out but two are buried underground.’

The tube is getting its first underground incline lift

‘It’s a lift that runs on a slope rather than straight up and down – like in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. You don’t see many of them, but we didn’t have any space for a lift shaft at Farringdon, so we just put one in alongside the escalators.’

There’s a new island made out of London dirt

‘Crossrail has created an island in Essex from everything dug from the tunnels called Wallasea Island, which is now a bird sanctuary. There are cycling paths and other things. It’s not just waste!’ν

Magdalena is supporting Tomorrow’s Engineers Week.

Now discover the things you only know if you’re a police officer.

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