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Crossrail competition asks public to name our last two tunnelling machines

By Stuart Buss

Crossrail competition asks public to name our last two tunnelling machines
  • Final two tunnelling machines to be launched from Pudding Mill Lane near Olympic Park in east London this summer
  • Naming competition asks public to nominate names of inspirational modern figures for tunnelling machines – Click here for details

Crossrail has today asked the public to nominate their ‘modern day heroes’ as part of a naming competition for the final two tunnelling machines to be used to build the Crossrail route beneath London.

A total of eight Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) will be used to build 26 miles (42km) of tunnels beneath London to form the central section of the Crossrail route.

The naming of TBMs after women is a long-held tunnelling tradition and the names of Crossrail’s first six TBMs were each inspired by British heritage and history – tunnelling machines Ada and Phyllis in west London named after early computer scientist Ada Lovelace and Phyllis Pearsall who created the London A-Z; Elizabeth and Victoria in east London, named after Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II; and Mary and Sophia in southeast London, named after the wives of famous railway engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Marc Isambard Brunel.

For the final two tunnelling machines Crossrail is looking ahead to the modern day, recognising the state-of-the-art new transport links being delivered for current and future generations. To help name the final two TBMs, the public are asked to nominate their ‘modern day heroes’ and inspirational women.

Fittingly, Crossrail’s remaining tunnelling machines will be launched from Pudding Mill Lane close to the Olympic Park - the setting for a number of heroes at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games such as Gold-medal winners Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, Laura Trott and Sarah Storey.

Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “The Crossrail project is moving London forward so we are focussing on inspirational modern figures for the names of our final two tunnelling machines. There are a range of role models and inspiring names for people to choose from in culture, sport, entertainment and a range of other areas. We look forward to hearing their naming suggestions for our final two tunnelling machines that will soon be making their mark on the capital.”

The tunnelling machine naming competition is now open for people to nominate names at The public nomination process will run for 5 weeks, closing on Friday 31st May when a final shortlist of names will be selected.

Crossrail workers, including those who will work on the final two tunnelling machines, will then choose two winning names from the shortlisted public nominations. The winning names will be announced in the summer and etched onto the side of the two machines before they are launched on their tunnelling journey later this summer.

The public nomination process is open to a range of suggestions but names for the tunnelling machines must follow two specific criteria:

  • In line with tradition, the tunnelling machines must be named after women
  • The names must be real-life figures, not fictional characters

Along with the public nomination process, Crossrail is working with two local schools in east London where the final two tunnelling machines will pass through. Tunnelling contractor Dragados Sisk (DSJV) is arranging activity in Carpenters Primary School in Stratford and Ben Jonson Primary School in Tower Hamlets. Pupils at both schools will be asked to come up with their own ‘modern day heroes’ as naming suggestions for the Crossrail tunnelling machines. The names suggested by the local schoolchildren will then be included along with public suggestions in the shortlist for Crossrail workers to choose the winners from.

The final two tunnelling machines will be used in Crossrail’s tunnelling drive from Pudding Mill Lane, near Stratford in east London. The machines will create 2.7km of tunnels beneath east London to Stepney Green, helping link the surface railway from Shenfield in Essex, through Stratford Station, into the central tunnelled section of the new Crossrail route.

The two 150 metre long, 1,000 tonne tunnelling machines are currently being assembled on site at Pudding Mill Lane. The first machine is set to start tunnelling in the summer and the second machine will start in early 2014. The machines are expected to complete their tunnelling drive by summer 2014.

Enter our competition here:


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

About Crossrail:

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118 km (73 miles) from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels below central London 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.