Crossrail - The most ambitious infrastructure project

Ar. Anwar-Punekar
"There is no strategy in India for integrating Metro stations with their context that can support existing and emerging urban centres. The biggest lesson from Crossrail is to recognize the catalytic impact rail infrastructure projects bring on areas their stations serve", opines London based Ar Anwar Punekar. Currently, Lead Urban Designer at Crossrail Limited, Anwar with over 16 years of interdisciplinary built environment experience on mega infrastructure and housing projects speaks to Ar Apurva Bose Dutta on Crossrail, his most ambitious infrastructure project ever.

As Lead Urban Designer of Crossrail, what are the challenges that you have encountered during the conceptualization/construction of the same?
Infrastructure projects are essentially engineering-led and it was often hard to convince project management colleagues in Crossrail about the qualitative improvements urban design can add. As designers of a subjective realm - built environment - we can't build as much hard evidence as the civil engineers and transport planners can. As a result, the value urban design could add was seen 'as something nice to have' and not taken on board. Over the years, however, things have changed for the better. Good context inclusive design was recognized as a USP both inside and outside Crossrail. With good design we have had positive design reviews from Design Council Cabe – an independent design advisory body in the UK. We also have had good stakeholders buy in and positive media coverage.

Farringdon-Station-Cowcross-Street
Farringdon Station Cowcross Street

What are the green and sustainable features that have been made a part of Crossrail?
Canary_Wharf_Station
Canary Wharf Station, Architects Impression
Crossrail's sustainability strategy has derived its key themes and initiatives by mapping the sustainable strategy of the UK Government. Key performance indicators such as Breeam and Ceequal have not only been used to bench mark Crossrail against established industry standards but Crossrail is also the first to introduce these standards in underground stations. There are 20 key initiatives that focus on social and economic and environmental themes some of which are ensuring ethical supply chains, creating sustainable jobs as well as provision of step free access to all the 37 Crossrail stations. The excellent rating achieved by some stations such as Whitechapel has been because of benefits of those related to a) environment such as reduction in excavation, increase in day light levels and provision of bio-diverse green roof; b) economic such as regenerating High Streets, optimizing footfall and journey time; and c) social such as improved accessibility, intuitive way finding and inclusive design.

Can you please explain the relevance of 'Technology' in this project?
The stations have been designed to combine the latest station technology with tried and tested engineering solutions. Among a number of advanced technologies adopted, the PES (Platform Edge Screen) wall – between the platform edge and the railway track - has been conceived as a 'hard-working' service wall which will integrate the platform services equipment requirements in order to keep the tunnel wall cladding as a clean and simple back drop for the wayfinding signage. It is seen as a sleek, ephemeral, high technology element that can be easily updated and improved with the new technologies emerging throughout the life of the station. The technology wall will provide the departing passenger with information relating to their journey through integrated digital customer information systems, clocks and line maps. The design of the technology wall and the consistent platform and internal station aesthetics will help to create a unique identity for Crossrail which will be common to both the tunnel and box stations.

What opinion do you have on the Metro Projects in India?
If you study Docklands Light Rail (DLR) in London, you will find how design and implementation of stations, public realm enhancement, spaces and uses under the viaduct, and zone of positive influence have improved with successive stations over the years. Similarly, Metro projects need to evolve to the next stage to be able to positively transform areas around their stations and along the viaduct.

Whitechapel-Station-Upper-Concourse
Whitechapel Station Upper Concourse

There is no strategy in India for integrating Metro stations with their context that can support existing and emerging urban centres. Metro stations are often built as standalone structures needed to drop and pick up passengers rather than be a crucial part of the city's growth story. It is not entirely up to the Metro projects but is also to do with the planning and transport authorities that lack proactive approach to shape and manage the positive impact of Metro Stations. Planning and transport authorities need to grasp the potential transformation Metro Projects can bring. In countries like Hong Kong the transport authority is able to take a more strategic approach because it controls the stations and the land around them. When we have multiple land-ownership issues we need to be much more proactive. The Metro projects have a vital role in strengthening existing and emerging urban centres and leaving a legacy of new public spaces, high quality buildings and pedestrian-friendly areas around their stations.

As a country whose's major transport advancements include the Metro Rail Projects, what lessons can India learn from Crossrail. What kind of strategies should station designs have for the future?
The biggest lesson from Crossrail is to recognize the catalytic impact rail infrastructure projects bring on areas their stations serve. Through good urban design this impact can be transformed to the benefit of the wider urban context in the form of regeneration beyond the immediate context in which the stations sit. It is important to maximize the potential of the catalytic impact by integrating 'design and implementation' of stations, public realm and potential property development to optimize the social, economic and environmental benefits. The negative impacts such as the severance and physical divide caused by the viaduct along the route need to be mitigated by encouraging linkages and by creative use of undercroft areas. Whilst the infrastructure, stations and enhanced public realm provide high quality passenger experience outside the station as they arrive and leave, the greatest impact will be on the property values around stations. The value of any potential development sites under sole or joint ownership of Metro delivery agency can be optimized, which can then feed into the core project funding.

Paddington Station(daytime)
Paddington Station

In this context, wider urban design studies if carried out jointly with key stakeholders not only establish a framework within which different elements can evolve, but also effectively provide a rational and consistent basis around which discussion and negotiation for funding and implementation can occur. In order to reinforce the above strategies and design approach, it is vital for good design to become the law as 'The 2008 Planning Act' and 'Compulsory Purchase Act 2004' have specific sections pertaining to design criteria and the desirability of good design in the UK and similar emphasis is increasingly placed elsewhere around the world. Equally important is the expertise and capacity of the client design teams and the client organization itself to lead and manage sustainable design and delivery outcomes.

In comparison to building metro stations and the infrastructure needed for them to be in operation, integration of station with the urban context bears a small fraction of their costs. However, the amount of public support gained for the contextual improvements is often high and sometimes exceeds the provision of the station itself. Public support generated by consultation and positive media coverage is crucial in publicly funded infrastructure projects and particularly when they exceed beyond several electoral terms of elected governments. Potential passengers and local communities see improvements of areas around the stations as a reward for the traffic jams, muck, dust and the disruption they have to put up with for years while the infrastructure is put in place. The old practice worldwide that the rail infrastructure delivery/operating agencies have nothing to do with the areas outside the stations has been proved redundant. It makes a compelling argument from any social, economic and environmental perspective that stations need to be integrated with their urban context, local communities need to be regenerated and potential development opportunities must be future proofed so they can be delivered later by others when the time is right.
NBM&CW August 2013
NBM&CW Celebrates 30 Years of Progress in the Construction Industry

NBM&CW Celebrates 30 Years of Progress in the Construction Industry

This month marks a significant milestone for our publication as we celebrate 30 years of dedicated service to the construction industry. For over three decades we have been relentless advocates for the adoption of technology, equipment

Read more ...

The Future of Indian Infrastructure Construction Landscape

The Future of Indian Infrastructure Construction Landscape

The Indian construction industry is poised for a significant transformation over the next two decades. With a strong focus on infrastructure development, India will invest over 1.40 trillion USD in the next five years on infra

Read more ...

KNR Constructions: Optimizing Project Delivery with Advanced Equipment

KNR Constructions: Optimizing Project Delivery with Advanced Equipment

Mechanization is helping projects become more financially viable. At KNR, we have become self-reliant by deploying our own equipment and new construction methodologies, which is also helping us optimize cost and time during

Read more ...

Volvo CE: Electric Excavators, Wheel Loaders, Haulers & Compactors

Volvo CE: Electric Excavators, Wheel Loaders, Haulers & Compactors

Volvo CE India is a frontrunner in sustainable construction equipment, offering electric excavators, wheel loaders, haulers, and compactors alongside advanced technologies for efficiency and flexible business models to meet evolving customer needs.

Read more ...

Rajpath Infracon: Transformative Technologies Driving Growth Opportunities

Rajpath Infracon: Transformative Technologies Driving Growth Opportunities

Rajpath Infracon recognizes that innovation is the key to building sustainable, efficient, and durable roads for the future. They advocate for the adoption of advanced technologies throughout the entire project lifecycle - from materials and design to construction and maintenance.

Read more ...

AFCONS: Leveraging Technologies Like GFRP, HSFRC, UHPC, Precast & BIM

AFCONS: Leveraging Technologies Like GFRP, HSFRC, UHPC, Precast & BIM

AFCONS Infrastructure is at the forefront of construction innovation, leveraging disruptive technologies like GFRP, HSFRC, UHPC, precast construction, and BIM to address labor shortages, enhance sustainability, and improve project efficiency.

Read more ...

Wirtgen: Cold Milling Machines, Asphalt Pavers & Compaction Equipment

Wirtgen: Cold Milling Machines, Asphalt Pavers & Compaction Equipment

With its innovative and cost-effective road building and rehabilitation machines, the Wirtgen Group has emerged as an undisputed market leader, offering customers tech-rich and value-for-money products.

Read more ...

Godrej Switches to 100% Green Energy; Builds 3D Printed Office from RCA

Godrej Switches to 100% Green Energy; Builds 3D Printed Office from RCA

We have implemented eco-friendly production processes and energy-efficient technologies to minimize our carbon footprint; we also adhere to stringent waste management protocols, and the principles of Circular Economy.

Read more ...

Terex: Cutting-Edge Mobile Crushers & Screens, Washing Systems & Cranes

Terex: Cutting-Edge Mobile Crushers & Screens, Washing Systems & Cranes

Terex India, a leader in materials processing equipment like Powerscreen® mobile crushers and Finlay® screens, is at the forefront of sustainable construction. Their Hosur facility exemplifies operational excellence with a focus on clean energy, environmental responsibility, and digital tools for efficiency across their diverse product range including Terex® Washing Systems, Franna® cranes, and EvoQuip® solutions.

Read more ...

BMC Mumbai: Road Repair with Thin White Topping & Ultra-Thin White Topping

BMC Mumbai: Road Repair with Thin White Topping & Ultra-Thin White Topping

Thin White Topping/Ultra-Thin White Topping overlays are innovative pavement repair and strengthening solutions and are also cost-effective and less maintenance intensive, having demonstrated performance comparable to traditional

Read more ...

ACE: Mobile Crane, Pick & Carry Crane & Backhoe for Next-Gen Construction

ACE: Mobile Crane, Pick & Carry Crane & Backhoe for Next-Gen Construction

Action Construction Equipment (ACE) offers a comprehensive range of construction equipment – mobile cranes, Pick & Carry Cranes, fixed tower cranes, backhoe loaders, and more – while pioneering sustainable solutions and advanced technologies like automation and AI for next-generation construction.

Read more ...

Sanghvi Movers: Leading Crane Rental Industry With End-to-End Solutions

Sanghvi Movers: Leading Crane Rental Industry With End-to-End Solutions

Sanghvi Movers, Asia's largest crane rental company, leverages its extensive fleet of cranes and expertise to address infrastructure growth in India. They offer comprehensive solutions including logistics, erection services, and project management for diverse sectors like wind energy and refineries.

Read more ...

JCB LiveLink & Industry 4.0 for Connected Machines & Smart Manufacturing

JCB LiveLink & Industry 4.0 for Connected Machines & Smart Manufacturing

JCB India leads the way in digital construction with JCB LiveLink for their iconic Backhoe Loaders and other machines, offering real-time data, improved efficiency, and Industry 4.0 adoption for smarter manufacturing.

Read more ...

Adani Group: Driving Construction Innovation with Digital Solutions & AI

Adani Group: Driving Construction Innovation with Digital Solutions & AI

Ambuja Cements and ACC’s focus on Digitalisation and AI-driven strategies are delivering exceptional solutions. By embracing cutting-edge technologies and fostering a culture of innovation, we are offering best-in-class products and

Read more ...

SCHWING Stetter: Batching Plants, Concrete Pumps & Waste Recycling Plants

SCHWING Stetter: Batching Plants, Concrete Pumps & Waste Recycling Plants

SCHWING Stetter India, a leader in concrete equipment, offers a wide range of innovative products – batching plants, concrete pumps, mixers and waste recycling plants – to promote sustainable and efficient construction practices.

Read more ...

Kalpataru Group: Transforming the EPC Industry for a Greener Future

Kalpataru Group: Transforming the EPC Industry for a Greener Future

Kalpataru Group champions sustainable practices in the EPC industry, focusing on renewable energy, green buildings, and innovative technologies for a greener future.

Read more ...

Puzzolana: Leveraging R&D for Advanced Crushing & Screening Equipment

Puzzolana: Leveraging R&D for Advanced Crushing & Screening Equipment

Puzzolana leverages R&D to develop cutting-edge crushing and screening equipment, including high-capacity jaw and cone crushers, for optimized production and reduced costs per ton.

Read more ...

SGES Group: Expert Geotechnical Solutions for Streamlined Construction

SGES Group: Expert Geotechnical Solutions for Streamlined Construction

At SGES, our team brings over 200 years of collective experience in solving complex geotechnical problems; by quickly providing tailored solutions, we assist clients in making timely decisions, thus avoiding time and cost overruns.

Read more ...

Sany: Intelligent Service Platform with Telematics & Electric Dump Truck

Sany: Intelligent Service Platform with Telematics & Electric Dump Truck

Sany India discusses their Intelligent Service Platform with telematics and analytics, commitment to electric vehicles like the SKT105E mining dump truck, and plans for hybrid construction equipment.

Read more ...

To get latest updates on whatsapp, Save +91 93545 87773 and send us a 'Saved' message
Click Here to Subscribe to Our eNewsletter.