As the final tunnels are being dug underneath the streets of London, Ciara Lee ventures deep into the subterranean network of Europe's biggest infrastructure project.
Thirty-five metres below the streets of London lies Europe's biggest ever infrastructure project - Crossrail. A marathon of tunnels are being built beneath the city connecting 40 stations stretching to towns outside the capital. It's expected to increase rail capacity in London by 10 percent and generate thousands of jobs. House prices anywhere near it are soaring. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER CIARA LEE, SAYING: "This tunnel boring machine, called Elizabeth after the queen, is 150 metres long. This is the final push under the streets of London, excavating land between Whitechapel and Farringdon. But the project is far from over. Next will be the rails, the signals, and then the stations." Eighty-five percent of the tunneling is now complete using machinery built specially in Germany. It will take until 2018 to complete the project, but so far it's running on time and on budget. Steven Kay is the central area delivery director. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STEVEN KAY, CENTRAL AREA DELIVERY DIRECTOR FOR CROSSRAIL, SAYING: "It will change the traveling experience. You'll see larger stations, larger station platforms. The capability to move people east to west will transform businesses and transform the lives of Londoners. It will impact almost everybody in the capital." At a cost of 14.8 billion pounds, it's faced criticism by some who feel it's an extravagant project considering the UK economy is only just beginning to recover. But Crossrail says the network will help London as it battles to cope with its growing population. And it's also expected to set an example internationally. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STEVEN KAY, CENTRAL AREA DELIVERY DIRECTOR FOR CROSSRAIL, SAYING: "Crossrail is the most significant project in Europe. It's really a springboard for other projects in the UK and further afield. High Speed 2 of course is being talked about, Thames Tideway is in the planning phase as well so these projects will really learn from the experience Crossrail has had." So far the project has tunneled under the river Thames, and encountered ancient archeological sites in the city. The end goal is to get trains on tracks, and generate an estimated 42 billion pounds over 60 years to help keep the UK economy working on full bore.