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Mini Crossrail tunnelling machine starts new sewer

By Krista Eleftheriou

Mini Crossrail tunnelling machine starts new sewer

Crossrail has launched its smallest tunnelling machine Molley to build a new Thames Water sewer in west London.

The 1.45 metres diameter tunnel boring machine (TBM) is just 3.3 metres long and a fraction of the size of Crossrail’s 7.1 metre diameter, 150 metre long machines that are building the new 26 miles of new train tunnels under London.

TBM Molley will build a new 564 metre long tunnel to divert a section of the Great Western Road Sewer between Westbourne Park station and Basing Street, under Tavistock Road.

The sewer needs to be redirected as Europe’s largest infrastructure project will be lowering the mainline tracks near Westbourne Park to accommodate its trains running into Paddington, so impacting on the existing sewer. 

Crossrail’s contractors BFK and Barhale opened a competition for primary school students at Canada Blanch School in west London to name the tunnelling machine. It is part of BFK’s Community Investment Programme which is seeking to leave a lasting legacy in the communities Crossrail constructors work within.

BFK Project Director Graham Hughes said: “This is an exciting project for the local community and a chance to bring engineering to life for young students in the local area. We opened a drawing competition to year 3 and 4 students and selected a winning entry and TBM name. The students joined us for the launch and we hope seeing an engineering project in action will inspire a new generation of future tunnellers and engineers.”

Molley is too small to accommodate workers so is controlled remotely from the surface. Works are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.


For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email

Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) Joint Venture is constructing Crossrail’s western train tunnels between Royal Oak and Farringdon along with the station tunnels at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon.

About Crossrail

The total funding available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 40 stations and run more than 118 km (73 miles) 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.