By 2018, things will be moving fast for the residents of Fitzrovia. A journey to the departures lounge at Heathrow will take barely half an hour. Days of rushing to meetings in Canary Wharf will be over – soon just 12 minutes away. As for the evening train home from Liverpool Street or Paddington station? Reachable in five minutes flat. Many more journey times will be cut by up to half when one of Europe’s largest construction projects, Crossrail, rolls out.
Running from Berkshire to Essex via central London, Crossrail will serve forty stations along the way. As part of the developments in central London, ten new Crossrail stations are being built in the capital. A chief focus is the £1bn transformation of the area surrounding Tottenham Court Road station – soon to be the major point of connection for Fitzrovia. Crossrail’s first phase will oversee the renovation of the existing underground station at the intersection of Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street to a third more capacity.
And that’s just the beginning: when work on Tottenham Court Road underground is completed in 2017, the focus turns to life above ground. Crossrail’s largest over-site development will provide 500,000 sq ft of retail, office and residential space above the two ticket halls and along the eastern end of Oxford Street.
As Tottenham Court Road station makes its mark as a pivotal junction on London’s transport map, Fitzrovia’s scenery will see an upgrade too. A new £41 million scheme, the West End project, will build upon the neighbourhood’s natural beauty in time for Crossrail’s 2018 opening. Pavements will be widened by two metres, and six new “mini-parks” created, transforming vacant lots into leafy squares with benches and trees open to the local community.
Most exciting of all, the initiative will see the one-way system on Tottenham Court Road converted to a peaceful, pedestrian-friendly boulevard during daylight hours: from 8am-7pm Monday to Saturday, only buses and cycles will soon be permitted in the area. As a result, traffic is expected to reduce throughout the area (even on the nearby Charing Cross Road, Gower Street and High Holborn), and bus journeys will speed up by up to 3 minutes. And when travel moves faster? The real business of life can finally slow down.