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Crossrail's fleet of bespoke machines to fit-out the tunnels

A fleet of bespoke machines are being used in the fit-out of Crossrail's tunnels. Find out more about each of the machines below.


Crossrail's giant concreting train

The 465 metre long concreting train – which, when fully assembled, is the length of more than 4 football pitches – is a sophisticated mobile underground concrete batching factory. The concreting train played a key role for Crossrail in installing the permanent track quickly and safely on the eastern section of the route.

Dry materials are loaded onto the concreting train which then batches the concrete.  

The concreting train was refurbished and brought to the UK from France via the Channel Tunnel in August 2015. It will be based at Plumstead and used in the installation of standard track slab.

Running and maintaining the concreting train is a 24 hour operation. Concrete pouring took place during the night with restocking and maintenance carried out during the day.

The ability to mix and batch concrete on the move meant the concreting train was able to deliver a high daily output - at peak production it installed over 300 metres of concrete track slab a day.

When the concreting train was not operating in the tunnels it had to be split in two due to its size and located on two of the eight railhead tracks.

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Multi-purpose gantries

Multi-purpose gantry in use in Crossrail Thames Tunnel_212859

A bespoke fleet of four multi-purpose gantries is being used to carry over 70,000 sleepers and 57km of rail inside the tunnels as part of the initial sequence of works to build the new tracks.

Each gantry, operated by a single person, will run along the raised curbed sides of the tunnel’s first stage concrete.

After positioning 108 metre long sections of rail along a stretch of tunnel, the gantry will then carry and deposit sleepers at carefully measured intervals, before lifting the rail into place on top of them. The track will then be secured in place using clips, props and jigs before it is welded and the formation is concreted into position.

Two gantries will operate from Plumstead, one from Westbourne Park and the other will install the floating track slab underneath the Barbican estate.

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Concrete shuttle

Concrete shuttle approaching Paddington station_239622

To support permanent track installation in the Crossrail tunnels between Royal Oak Portal and Bond Street, a concrete shuttle was used to transport concrete from the temporary railhead at Westbourne Park.

Pre-mixed fibre reinforced concrete from the batching plant is loaded onto the shuttle, delivered into the tunnels and pumped into place.

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Drilling rig

Crossrail's state-of-the-art drilling rig_216496

A state-of-the-art drilling rig, comprising two machine components, will move through the tunnels drilling more than 250,000 holes in the tunnel lining. 

The first machine drills all the holes that will accommodate brackets for cabling, walkways and fire mains while the second machine will focus on the holes for overhead electricity line which will power the new Crossrail trains.

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Construction trains

Crossrail loco in use at Plumstead railhead_214844

Crossrail is using a fleet of construction trains to help deliver sleepers, rails and other materials into the Crossrail tunnels.  

Manufactured in Germany, this locomotive train is a 500 horsepower, 9.3 metre-long shunting locomotive train, weighing 42 tonnes.

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Near You

Near You

Explore Crossrail's stations, tunnels and archaeological works Near You