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Crossrail casts its final concrete tunnel segment

By Hamish McDougall

Crossrail casts its final concrete tunnel segment
  • Last of 250,000-piece tunnel jigsaw is made at Chatham, Kent
  • Kent-based team of 120 play a crucial role in the delivery of Crossrail
  • River transport of tunnel segments saved 10,000 lorry movements
  • Crossrail tunnels are now 82% complete

Crossrail has manufactured the last of its 250,000 concrete segments, used to line the tunnels of Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

The final piece was cast at a specially built Crossrail factory in Chatham, Kent. The factory has produced 110,000 tunnel segments to line Crossrail’s 12km long eastern twin tunnels, from east London to Farringdon. Segments for the western tunnels from Royal Oak to Paddington were manufactured at a separate facility at Old Oak Common. Segments for the Thames Tunnel between Plumstead and North Woolwich were manufactured in Ireland.

At peak, the Chatham factory operated 24 hours a day, five days per week and on average manufactured 330 segments per day. Each segment weighs 3.4 tonnes. Seven segments and a key stone form a complete tunnel ring in the new Crossrail eastern tunnels, which are being built by joint venture Dragados Sisk.

The Chatham factory sustained 120 jobs for local people, including two apprentices. Maidstone-based Brett Concrete supplied 140,000 cubic metres of concrete for the segments and Medway Ports facilitated 260 river barge movements from Chatham to Limmo Peninsula, near Canning Town, where segments feed Crossrail’s 1,000 tonne tunnel boring machines. Using river transport removed approximately 10,000 lorry journeys from the roads of Kent and east London.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project with an immense supply chain spread across the country. The team at Chatham have done a superb job supplying our eastern tunnels with concrete segments.”

Crossrail worked closely with the Port of London Authority (PLA), who shared their marine expertise to support the supply of tunnel segments by river. 

James Trimmer, PLA’s director of planning and environment said: “Crossrail has really made the most of the river, both for shifting tunnelling spoil away and getting essential materials like the tunnel linings to site.  Their use of the river has taken the tonnage of freight moved on the Thames to record levels.”

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.

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

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.

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.