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Crossrail reveals first completed train tunnel

By Krista Eleftheriou

Crossrail reveals first completed train tunnel

Europe’s largest infrastructure project, Crossrail, has unveiled its first completed train tunnel 18 months after tunnelling machine, Phyllis, started her 6.8 kilometre journey from Royal Oak to Farringdon.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, Infrastructure Minister Lord Deighton and Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel Dedring have become the first visitors to set foot inside the completed train tunnel, entering via what will be the future Crossrail Farringdon station.

They gained a glimpse of how the most significant addition to London’s transport network in a generation will look when it opens in 2018, and enclosed a time capsule in the remaining section of Crossrail’s first tunnelling machine, Phyllis.

Crossrail is delivering a significant economic boost across the UK with more than 10,000 people currently working across 45 construction sites. Over 75,000 business opportunities will be created across the UK during the life of the project.

The ministers met several of the workers including apprentices that have been constructing the new passenger tunnels underneath Farringdon station. Crossrail is on target to deliver over 400 apprenticeships with more than 260 apprentices already working on the project.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rt Hon. Danny Alexander said: “This first tunnel is a key milestone in the journey towards a better transport network in London. Crossrail will transform the way people travel, slashing journey times from the City to Heathrow by around 30 minutes and increasing London's rail capacity by ten per cent. Anyone who travels in London knows Crossrail can’t come soon enough and today shows that the project is on track to open in 2018.

“This is just one part of the government’s plan to invest in our future through growth boosting projects. When completed Crossrail is set to create £42 billion for the UK economy, which means more jobs, better skills and growing businesses across the country.”

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Deighton said: “Big projects bring big rewards and Crossrail is another excellent example of the UK delivering on time and on budget to create world-leading infrastructure that will drive our economy. The project will create the equivalent of 55,000 new jobs, support thousands of business and produce lasting benefits for the whole country through the supply chain.

“With 90 per cent of contracts going to UK firms and 62 per cent outside London, it is a model that projects should be looking to follow so that we get the infrastructure the UK needs to compete in the global race.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The completion of the first section of Crossrail tunnel is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved in delivering this landmark infrastructure project. As well as creating thousands of jobs in the capital and across the UK, it is sending out a very strong message that London is planning for the future and delivering on a scheme that will revolutionise rail travel in our great city.”

Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “Crossrail has finished construction of its first section of tunnel, showing that the UK can deliver big projects on time and on budget. In the process we are creating a new generation of tunnellers, with many of them training at the new £13m Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in east London, providing skills for not only Crossrail but future infrastructure projects. We have also helped more than 750 people move from unemployment into work.”

BAM Ferrovial Kier Joint Venture Managing Director, Tom Tagg said:  "This has been a tremendous engineering performance which has taken skill and accuracy to deliver a complex piece of infrastructure while allowing London to function above. We have been proud to be the first tunnelling machine to start building Crossrail’s new tunnels and pleased to be finishing first and ahead of schedule.” 

Among the items included in the Crossrail time capsule were a 2013 edition of the London A to Z  donated by Phyllis Pearsall’s company who TBM Phyllis was named after, a Crossrail “Start of Tunnelling” mining tally and a tunnel phone used to communicate without standard telephone signal.

Crossrail’s seven giant tunnelling machines are approaching 25 kilometres out of 42 kilometres of new train tunnels that will link east and west London. Another 14 kilometres of new passenger, platform and service tunnels are being constructed below the new Crossrail stations.

Phyllis is the first tunnelling machines to complete her tunnel construction with another three 1,000 tonne, 150 metre long tunnelling machines due to complete tunnelling at Farringdon in the coming year.

Farringdon station will be at the heart of London’s rail network, becoming one of the UK’s busiest rail stations linking north, south, east and west London and three of London’s major airports. More than 140 trains an hour will pass through the station including 24 Crossrail trains an hour in each direction, during peak times.

More than 150,000 passengers a day will use Farringdon station after Crossrail opens and they will be able to travel to Tottenham Court Road in three minutes, Heathrow in just over 30 minutes and Canary Wharf in nine minutes.

When Crossrail opens in 2018, it will transform train travel across London and the south east, delivering faster journey times, boosting London’s rail capacity by 10% and bringing an additional 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes travel of the capital’s major business centres. Over 200 million passengers will travel on Crossrail each year.

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Notes to editors

Crossrail’s eight tunnelling boring machines (TBMs) are building ten different tunnels to collectively deliver 42 kilometres of new train tunnels under London. A gang of 20 people work in the tunnel on each shift to keep each machine operating.

The naming of TBMs after women is a long-held tunnelling tradition. Western tunnels machines Phyllis and her sister Ada, were named after early computer scientist Ada Lovelace, and Phyllis Pearsall who created the London A-Z. Ada, is in the Holborn area and is due to complete tunnelling this winter at Farringdon. Over the coming months, Phyllis’ 130 metre long trailer system will be removed from the tunnel via the Fisher Street shaft at Holborn.

Crossrail invited Londoners to submit ideas for items to be included in the time capsule with those with winning suggestions to have the opportunity to visit Crossrail.

Crossrail’s western tunnels are being built by contractor Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK).

More than 1,000 people are working on the western tunnel section of the project, building new train tunnels between Royal Oak at Farringdon, and new passenger, platform and service tunnels for new stations at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon.

About Crossrail

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 38 stations and run 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 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.