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Crossrail launches competition to name giant tunnelling machines

By Peter MacLennan

Crossrail launches competition to name giant tunnelling machines
  • Call for ideas to name six 1,000 tonne tunnel boring machines that will construct new rail tunnels under London
  • Shortlisted names to be published in February with the public invited to vote for their favourites
  • Winners will receive prize and be invited to attend the tunnelling launch event at Royal Oak in March

Crossrail has launched a competition seeking names for six of the giant tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will construct the major new rail tunnels under London.

Londoners and people living along the Crossrail route are being asked to propose pairs of names for the machines. The winning entries will be painted onto the tunnel boring machines.

This spring, the first two 140 metre long TBMs weighing 1,000 tonnes will travel 6.4 km (4 miles) east from Royal Oak via Paddington, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road before reaching Farringdon in summer 2013. Later this year, the second pair of machines will launch from Limmo in Docklands driving 8.3 km (5.2 miles) west towards Farringdon via Whitechapel and Liverpool Street. In the winter, two TBMs will be launched from Plumstead travelling 2.6 km (1.6 miles) and under the River Thames to North Woolwich.

A Crossrail panel will select a shortlist before the public is invited to vote online for their favourite pairs of names in February. Prizes will be awarded to the three entrants who receive the most votes.

Andy Mitchell, Crossrail Programme Director said: “Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project and will transform rail travel in London and the south east. This competition is a chance for Londoners and those living along the Crossrail route to suggest the names of the tunnel boring machines that will construct the major new rail tunnels under London. In years to come the winners of the competition will be able to travel on Crossrail and not only say they named the machines that built the tunnels but that they watched history unfold as tunnelling started.”

The winning entrants will have the option of a prize of either Eurostar vouchers or an annual family pass to Merlin Theme Parks, which have been donated by Crossrail’s tunnelling and delivery contractors. Winners will also be invited to attend the tunnelling launch event at Royal Oak.

To submit your names visit by 6 February 2012.


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

Notes to Editors:

Similar to sea going ships, tunnel boring machines traditionally have female names. Terms and conditions for the competition can be found on the Crossrail website. The competition is open to UK residents.

The new Crossrail tunnels will run between Royal Oak in west London and Pudding Mill Lane and Victoria Dock in east London. There will also be a further, shorter tunnel between Plumstead and North Woolwich. A total of eight TBMs will construct the Crossrail tunnels. This includes:

  • 2 x TBMs constructing the Royal Oak to Farringdon tunnels;
  • 2 x TBMs constructing the tunnels between Limmo and Farringdon;
  • 2 x TBMs constructing the tunnels between Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green; and
  • 2 x TBMs tunnelling between Plumstead and North Woolwich and

from Limmo to Victoria Dock.

Members of the panel to shortlist the TBM names will be drawn from the three main tunnelling contractors and Crossrail senior management.

Arrangements for naming the remaining two TBMs that will construct the shorter tunnel drive in east London will be confirmed at a later date. These TBMs will be launched in 2014.

Prizes have been donated by delivery partner Bechtel Limited, Joint Ventures comprising BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier Construction (BFK); Dragados S.A and John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd; and HOCHTIEF Solutions AG, J Murphy & Sons Ltd.

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 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 across the capital, helping to secure London's position as a world leading financial centre, 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.