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Crossrail completes tunnels in Docklands and southeast London

By Hamish McDougall

  • Tunnel machine Ellie spectacularly finishes journey at Victoria Dock Portal
  • Ellie completes her 900m journey in just six weeks, travelling as far as 46 metres per day
  • The ‘final push’ begins on Crossrail train tunnels, now 87% complete, from Whitechapel towards Farringdon

Crossrail’s train tunnels in Docklands and southeast London are now structurally complete, following the breakthrough by tunnel machine Ellie at Victoria Dock Portal in east London.

Also announced today, tunnel machine Elizabeth has started the final push west from Whitechapel that will see her and sister machine Victoria complete Crossrail’s train tunnels at Farringdon next year.

Tunnel machine Ellie had one of Crossrail’s shortest but most complex drives, 900m from Limmo Peninsula, near Canning Town, to Victoria Dock Portal. Ellie successfully navigated the Docklands Light Railway, Jubilee line and utilities, all in close proximity to the River Thames and River Lea. She completes a set of Crossrail tunnels in east and southeast London that stretch from Plumstead to Whitechapel, with an additional spur between Stepney Green and Stratford.

It is Ellie’s second drive, having already completed a 2.7km stretch from Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green. She will now be dismantled and returned to manufacturer Herrenknecht, with the parts recycled for future projects.

Simon Wright, Crossrail’s Programme Director said: “The end is in sight for Crossrail’s tunnelling marathon. Having successfully delivered all bored tunnels west of Farringdon and east of Whitechapel, we now begin the final push to complete tunnelling at Farringdon next year. The next challenge is to fit out the tunnels and stations with systems to run Crossrail trains through central London in 2018.”

Tunnel machine Elizabeth is 60% through Crossrail’s longest drive, a distance of 8.3km from Limmo to Farringdon. She has already successfully negotiated Canary Wharf Crossrail station and Stepney Green cavern, before waiting in Whitechapel ahead of the completion of a shaft beneath Durward Street. The drive to Farringdon will reach the deepest point on the Crossrail route, approximately 40m beneath street level near the Barbican in the City of London.

Each of Crossrail’s eight tunnel boring machines weighs 1,000 tonnes, is up to 150 metres long and 7.1 metres in diameter. They are staffed by teams of 20 working around the clock. Crossrail’s eastern tunnels are built by Dragados Sisk Joint Venture.

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email pressoffice@crossrail.co.uk

Notes to Editor

Crossrail’s eight tunnel boring machines are undertaking 10 separate drives to construct a total 42km of tunnel. Crossrail began tunnelling in May 2012 when the first tunnel machine, Phyllis, launched from Royal Oak in west London. Six of Crossrail’s eight tunnel machines have now completed their journeys under London.

Tunnel machine Ellie is named after four time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds OBE. The name was selected by school children from Stepney. Tunnel machine Elizabeth is named after HM Queen Elizabeth II, chosen after a public poll.

Tunnel segments for the eastern tunnels were made in Chatham, Kent and transported to Limmo by river barge. Excavated material from Crossrail tunnels is shipped to Wallasea Island in Essex, where it will help create a new nature reserve, in partnership with the RSPB.

It is estimated that Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs around the UK. It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes commute of central London.

About Crossrail

The total funding available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 40 stations and run more than 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

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