Digging up Victoria Station should be quite the thankless task, given that it serves more passengers each year than Heathrow Airport, with considerably less room to manouevre.
So for the Taylor Woodrow and Bam Nuttall joint venture working on its £700m upgrade, this is the perfect chance to show how contractors can be considerate when going about massively intrusive works on Londoners’ journeys.
Factors challenging the team on the site are the local theatres (work shuts down early on Thursdays for matinees), visitors (around 82 million people use the underground station annually) and nearby developments, including Land Securities’ work on its 1m sq ft plans for Victoria Circle, where demolition got underway last month.
But for almost three hours the team take us around the massively complex site, one of the biggest jet grouting schemes in Europe and surely one of the most complex in terms of engineering.
When completed, it will include a new northern ticket hall as part of a 50 per cent capacity upgrade. The project is making provision for Crossrail 2 as part of a long-term infrastructure view, and more than 50 apprentices were interviewed, with six currently on-site.
One apprentice tells me he loves the work, but behind the scenes there are struggles to get young, enthusiastic trainees onto courses due to lack of demand.
Some workers on site have to wear chemical suits when carrying out grouting work. During the summer this is uncomfortably hot so the contractors are carrying out tests with new materials to tackle the problem.
And if that wasn’t enough, most Londoners go about their business with little idea that construction work is already going on tens of metres below the ground they are walking on, as part of a new tunnel to connect the two completed ticket halls.
When work is completed in 2018, the station will be easier to navigate and capacity will have increased by 50 per cent. Until then, the team will have to go on making as little noise as possible.