As has been noted in the press the last few days, the full opening of Crossrail has been extended for another year. I think the biggest effect from this is the revenue expected, but also affects those who were looking forward to a better service into London.
I believe the tunnels have all been built, and the soil which was dug from these tunnels was transported to Essex, to a nature reserve.
To be precise, to the RSPB nature reserve at Wallasea island, which is not far from Southend airport as the crow flies (or the aeroplane).
So, today, I took a drive to see the Wallasea island RSPB site. There are many ways of approaching the site, see google maps, but a recommendation is via the A130 rather than Rayleigh high street, and the final part of the route is via a rather narrow road into the site. I was intrigued as to how the lorries coped with these roads when delivering vast amounts of soil / excavation material.
The car park is quite small, and typical of an RSPB site, but currently has little or no amenities, i.e. toilets, cafe etc. The walk into the site was along a sea wall, and we were soon to discover that the excavations all came by river, i.e. along the river Blackwater from London (the Thames), and probably by barge.
The car park appeared to be opposite Burnham, and as we walked along the sea wall, you could see a structure which looked very like a long bridge, and as we neared this structure it was made clear that this was one very long conveyor belt from the barges/river to the land, and probably about 200 metres long.
At some time over the past ten years, or so, a considerable amount of debris from Crossrail had been distributed over this site. It was huge, in the order of 2-3 miles square. The conveyor belt clearly had transported all of this at some stage.
Over the years, the sea walls had been breached, and the land built up from below sea level to possibly 3 metres above sea level in places, with lagoons etc etc.
The work is still continuing to some extent, and the site is far from complete, with certain areas still closed off to access. You also need to be aware that whatever distance you walk, you need to repeat this in reverse, there is not currently a circular tour.
You do also need binoculars to view the bird life. Most of the birds were some distance away from us.
The RSPB site at Wallasea island will be amazing eventually. It is already pretty good. There was a massive group of geese, and with binoculars you can see many other birds. I went along for the walk! There was the usual heron, and many others, but you need to visit to see these, preferably with binoculars.
Interestingly, on the drive home, and along the narrow road in/out of the site; there were a considerable number of birds in the fields, which possibly included pheasants, bittern etc. I am quoting my wife, they were mostly brown birds. I found this part of the day most interesting, as my legs were aching at this stage!
A pleasant day out, though.