London’s £14.8bn Crossrail project has reached a series of landmarks in the past fortnight, including three tunnel boring machine breakthroughs.
Crossrail’s western tunnels are now structurally complete with tunnelling machine (TBM) Ada reaching the end of her journey at Farringdon on 24th January, having set out from Royal Oak near Paddington in August 2012. This follows the arrival of her sister machine Phyllis at Farringdon in October 2013.
In southeast London, TBM Sophia has completed Crossrail’s first tunnel beneath the Thames, arriving at the North Woolwich Portal on 29th January, having started south of the river in Plumstead last August.
TBM Jessica has also completed her tunnelling journey from Pudding Mill Lane, breaking through into one of Europe’s largest mined caverns beneath Stepney Green on 3rd February.
In addition, tunnelling machine Elizabeth made a spectacular entrance into the new Crossrail station at Whitechapel on 20th January on her journey from Limmo Peninsula to Farringdon (pictured above). Her sister machine Victoria also broke through into Stepney Green on 30 January (pictured below).
Contractors have also finished civil construction of the first of two new Bond Street station ticket halls. The western ticket hall on Davies Street is five storeys underground, with works starting earlier this month on a passenger tunnel to connect the Crossrail ticket hall to the existing underground station.
Crossrail recently passed the halfway mark on time and within budget. This year will see the project transition from major civil engineering work to station and tunnel fit-out. 30km out of 42km of bored tunnels are now complete.
Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “The tunnelling teams deserve tremendous credit for their safe and efficient progress in constructing this major new railway under London. The end is now in sight for Crossrail tunnelling with over 70% of the new rail tunnels now constructed. The next major element of the Crossrail programme will now begin with the fit-out of our tunnels and stations.”
Ada’s 6.9km journey was particularly challenging for engineers, navigating a complex web of Tube lines, building foundation piles and infrastructure up to 30m beneath central London. This included passing less than a metre above the operational Northern line at Tottenham Court Road.
Now that Sophia’s journey has finished, her ‘sister’ Mary will shortly be launched from the Woolwich box to complete the final section of tunnelling on Crossrail’s southeast section. With the arrival of TBM Jessica at Stepney, an eighth tunnelling machine, Ellie, will launch from Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney later this month.
TBM Jessica will now be taken to Limmo Peninsula for reassembly where she will construct the new Crossrail tunnels between Limmo and Victoria Dock Portal.