The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway returns to BBC Two on Wednesday 13 February 2019. Full broadcast details and links to watch the previous series can be found on the BBC programme page. Explore all our related content below, plus download your free poster to accompany the programme.
Skip to content
My OpenLearn Profile
- Personalise your OpenLearn profile
- Save your favourite content
- Get recognition for your learning
The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway
Ten thousand engineers and construction workers race to complete the Elizabeth line.
Available on BBC iPlayerBBC Two on Saturday
16th March 2019 at 1:25AM
In this series of The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway, we follow the 10,000 men and women tasked with building the new Elizabeth Line underground railway, formerly known as Crossrail, underneath the busy streets of Central London.
This fifteen-billion-pound construction project, one of Europe’s largest and most complex has only nine months left to finish fitting out and testing of all of its 10 new stations, 41 kilometers of twin-bored tunnels, and its fleet of 66 new trains, before the line is due to open to passengers. However, the closer the deadline gets, the more the schedule starts to slip.
We’re on the ground as the pressure and challenges facing its workforce begin to grow, from installing 10 tonne ventilation fans at Canary Wharf Station, fitting out platforms and concourses the size of an aircraft carriers under Oxford Street, and the mission to launch test trains into the tunnels - all while keeping London moving.
This series follows events leading up to the announcement that the Elizabeth Line will be delayed by over a year into 2020 and require a further £2 billion of funding. We’ll see how engineers must pull together, working on borrowed time, to restore their reputation, the reputation of the new railway, and the reputation of British engineering.
Why do we look on with adoration and amazement at some engineering creations while others leave us feeling indifferent? Dr Ian Johnston examines why some structures are worthy of their iconic status.
Read now ❯Iconic engineering: The Forth Bridge and Concorde
Download your free 'A City in the Making' poster to accompany the OU/BBC series 'The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway'.
Read now ❯Download your free poster, 'A City in the Making'
Why do we look on with adoration and amazement at some engineering creations while others leave us feeling indifferent? Dr Ian Johnston examines why some structures are worthy of their iconic status.Read now ❯Iconic engineering: The Forth Bridge and Concorde
Download your free 'A City in the Making' poster to accompany the OU/BBC series 'The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway'.Read now ❯Download your free poster, 'A City in the Making'
Pixabay under Creative-Commons license
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
From microscopic electronic devices to super structures like dams, bridges and towers, engineering has a vast scope that touches every area of our lives. The BEng (Hons) is a fascinating and thorough general engineering degree course that explores the fundamentals of this creative and analytical subject, and provides a firm foundation on which to build a successful career. It covers the range of techniques, concepts and knowledge required by professional engineers – from materials and mechanics to design and modelling – and you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in a number of areas: engineering design, environmental technologies, or energy and sustainability. Learning outcomes have been defined to fulfil the Engineering Council’s requirements under UK-SPEC, and early on in your studies you’ll compile a development plan aimed to fulfil your personal and professional aims. You’ll work on real projects and there are two compulsory week-long residential schools where you’ll team up with other students to create innovative solutions to challenging problems.Learn more ❯Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
This integrated masters degree combines undergraduate and postgraduate study, and we've designed the learning outcomes to fulfil the educational requirements for Chartered Engineer status. The course covers the techniques, concepts and knowledge required by professional engineers. You'll begin by exploring the fundamentals of this creative and analytical subject ? using a range of methods underpinned by science and mathematics. Later you'll choose one of five areas in which to specialise. You'll get to work on real-life projects and team up with other students at residential schools to create innovative solutions to challenging problems.Learn more ❯Master of Engineering
Engineering is at the heart of the built environment, and plays a central role in every aspect of our working and personal lives – from electricity generation and transport networks to smartphones and bicycles. If you’re working in engineering-related employment at a technical level and would like to climb the career ladder, this foundation degree is for you. It applies the study of engineering fundamentals like energy, design, manufacturing, materials, mechanics and structural analysis, to the solution of real-life problems. It also supports you in personal development planning and work-related issues – such as health and safety and project management, building on your existing skills and experience. The Foundation Degree in Engineering combines traditional academic skills with the needs of your workplace, and can be considered a step up from an apprenticeship. It also provides a route to an honours degree in engineering, or to our popular Open degree – paving the way to many new career opportunities.Learn more ❯Foundation Degree in Engineering
This online module will change your way of seeing and solving complex problems for ever. Through a mix of academic and practical work, you'll develop an understanding of design, acquire new design skills, and build a portfolio of design projects as a strong foundation for future study or work experience. It looks at common principles of design and thinking that lead to creative ideas and solutions in all design disciplines. Within a specially created online design studio, you'll complete practical activities and interact with tutors and other students, experiencing a completely different way of learning.Learn more ❯Design thinking: creativity for the 21st century
This introductory module examines the range of human activity that is 'engineering', setting current practice in a historical context and looking forward to new developments that will help shape the future. Key scientific principles, mathematical techniques and design methodologies are introduced and explained, to equip you with a basic toolkit on which to build further study. Mathematics is presented in an engineering context to emphasise relevance and build your confidence in framing problems, addressing design challenges and formulating solutions. Reflective practice is encouraged throughout and you will have the opportunity to share and discuss aspects of your work with other students.Learn more ❯Engineering: origins, methods, context
This module builds on the concepts and techniques inEngineering: origins, methods, context(T192). It begins by focusing on invention and innovation, and the advisory or legislative frameworks used to promote good practice and ensure safety. Examples of patents, standards and an energy case study are examined, providing a basis for introducing key topics in engineering and mathematics. Next, it takes you on a tour of modern manufacturing methods, and explores how these are related to properties of materials, product design, environmental sustainability and profitability. More advanced mathematical techniques, including basic calculus, are introduced and applied in an engineering context.Learn more ❯Engineering: frameworks, analysis, production
Our free courses
Urban processes are increasingly held to be responsible for causing a variety of problems environmental destruction, social injustice, global financial instability. They are also identified as harbouring the potential to meet these challenges through urban experiments in sustainable living, creative culture and alternative economies. This free course, Changing cities, explores how contemporary processes of urbanisation challenge how we think about political agency, providing a framework for the analysis of the causes, implications and responses to issues of common concern.Learn more ❯Changing cities
This free course, An introduction to design engineering, looks at the way in which engineers use ideas and approaches from the discipline of design thinking to inform their work. The complexity that people bring to design problems is introduced, along with some basic methods of dealing with such complexity.Learn more ❯An introduction to design engineering
The I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in August 2007, resulting in at least 13 deaths, illustrates the importance of structural integrity. This free course, Introduction to structural integrity, looks at the investigation that followed the collapse of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River in 1967 which demonstrates how the study of safe design and the assessment of components and structures under load is of increasing importance in engineering design.Learn more ❯Introduction to structural integrity
Dr Ian Johnston
Lecturer in Engineering and STEM Open Media Fellow
Dr Ian Johnston is an academic engineer and applied mathematician with a passion for taking science to the masses. His official research is in superconductivity, in which he has gained his doctorate. Hewas academic consultant to "Electric Dreams" and "Bang Goes The Theory".
Prof Jeff Johnson
Professor of Complexity Science & Design, STEM
Jeff is interested in the application of systems thinking and design in environmental, social and economic policy. He has worked on modules and courses in many areas including design, mathematics, artificial intelligence, robotics and engineering.
Dr Nick Bingham
Senior Lecturer in Geography, FASS
Nick's interest in taking seriously the role that non-human entitles (whether they are insects and microbes or technologies and data) play in social life has involved him researching topics as diverse as food safety, the bee crisis and smart cities.
Dr George Revill
Senior Lecturer in Geography, FASS
George has worked on a number of OU environmental and social science modules. Current research brings issues of sound, mobility, communication and landscape together in terms of acoustic geographies of space, place, landscape and environment.