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Students check out New York's underground scene with subway tour

Most visitors to New York have their eyes on the skies as they admire the city’s famous skyscapers – but one group of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students went deep underground on a tour of one of the world’s largest engineering projects.

New subway links to Long Island and Queens are being built to cut journey times for thousands of commuters in a programme costing billions of dollars.

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The East Side Access project is due to be completed by 2022 and involves creating miles of tunnelling, millions of tonnes of excavation and some $880million worth of communications systems to keep the new trains running.

Professor Nigel Wright secured an opportunity for Electical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Physics students to get a personal tour of the scheme during their visit to New York.

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Their guide was Joe Christen Jr, Vice-President and Deputy Program Executive for East Side Access. He explained the huge logistics of the programme – which involves 100 different projects – and gave an overview of the different stages of the scheme.

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Engineering know-how has been used to overcome challenges presented by the project such as dealing with the different types of ground under New York State from Manhattan’s granite to the softer ground of Queens.   

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The sheer scale of the project includes some six miles of tunnelling using giant specialist machines which carve out the routes. Eventually there will be eight new platforms below Grand Central Station.

Professor Wright, whose specialism is flooding, thanked East Side Access for allowing the DMU students on the special tour. He added: “It was incredible to see the sheer scale of the operation. The caverns carved out for the platforms for impressive and the students saw how engineering is applied to solve problems.”

Warren Pilz and Chris Thomas, both third year Mechanical Engineering students, were on the tour. Warren said: “I thought it was amazing, just seeing some of that scale and how they go about a project that big and deal with the issues. It’s something that tourists would not get to see. It’s been the highlight of our trip.

Posted on Saturday 7th January 2017

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