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Crossrail completes first tunnel “breakthrough”

By Tom Lawson

Crossrail has successfully completed it’s first tunnelling “breakthrough” at our Limmo Peninsular worksite, near Canning Town.

The breakthrough took place at the end of August when our eastern tunnels contractor drove the first of two 58m SCL (sprayed concrete lining) tunnels connecting the main Limmo shaft to the auxiliary shaft.

The newly constructed tunnel is teardrop shaped with an average diameter of 8.2 metres.  Approximately 45 metres below ground, the tunnel connects the two huge launch shafts, creating the space to build the TBMs underground.

Elizabeth and Victoria (our third and fourth TBMs) will be lowered in sections into the Limmo main shaft and assembled underground, before starting their 8.3km (5.16 mile) journey towards Farringdon.

Crossrail’s Eastern Tunnels Project Manager Peter Main said “Works at Limmo Peninsula are progressing well with this first breakthrough providing positive testament of the Contractor’s efforts in completing our first significant SCL works in challenging ground. Elsewhere we are nearing completion of the excavation of the Stepney Box and with the construction and with commissioning of our tunnel segment factory in Chatham, Kent now complete we are looking forward to the launch of our TBMs and commencement of the running tunnels.

“Our first two TBMs, Elizabeth and Victoria, will drive to Farringdon via Canary Wharf, Whitechapel and Liverpool Street, mining 1.2 million tonnes of excavated material as they go. The team are currently constructing a new dock and conveyer system at Instone Wharf to take the excavated material to Wallasea Island by ship where it will be used to create Europe’s largest manmade inter-tidal nature reserve.”

Crossrail’s eastern tunnels will run for 8.3km (5.16 miles) from Docklands to Farringdon where they will join with the western tunnels from Paddington.

When complete, Crossrail will transform rail transport in east London with areas such as Whitechapel, Ilford and Romford gaining direct links to the capital’s major employment areas.