The Black Locomotive

‘The shaft was the negative equivalent of a skyscraper, an absence driven into the ground rather than a presence raised above it. A small lift provided access to the lower levels. Austin Arnold adjusted his hard hat, labelled with a Crossrail logo, and opened the lift’s gate.

‘Austin was giving him the welcome patter. He seemed to have a script. It was mostly a list of achievements, punctuated by statistics: days worked, distance dug, volume of earth excavated. Each was measured not in square metres or tonnes or kilometres, but double-decker buses, blue whales and swimming pools: the SI units of the non-specialist.’

— Rian Hughes, The Black Locomotive


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