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Crossrail will move five million tonnes of earth via river

Crossrail will move five million tonnes of earth via river

London's business leaders have reiterated their support for the Crossrail project on the day Crossrail announces that more than five million tonnes of material excavated from the project will be transported by boat along the Thames for use in landscaping projects. These include a new 1,500 acre nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.

Today Crossrail signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Port of London Authority (PLA) to confirm its commitment to use barges and ships along the Thames to move its excavated materials. If the equivalent five million tonnes were to be transported by road they would require up to half a million lorry journeys.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

"Moving five million tonnes of earth excavated from the centre of London requires a solution of Herculean proportions. Using the barges rather than the roads is a supremely brilliant plan and it brings joy to my heart to see them make their way up and down the Thames.

"Using barges avoids the need for a huge number of lorries to grind their way through the city. It also brings together two of our key priorities - making better use of the river and keeping digging for Crossrail.

"Crossrail will add at least £20 billion to the economy and employ some 14,000 people. It is crucial to London's economic prosperity and I'm absolutely delighted to see work steaming ahead."

During the delivery of Crossrail, Europe's largest construction project, a total of 7.3 million m³ of material will be excavated, which is the equivalent of covering the whole of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens with a three metre layer of soil. Close to 100% of the 7.3 million m³ of excavated material is expected to be clean and uncontaminated and can be reused elsewhere. The project will maximise the use of water and rail for the transport of excavated material, and project managers estimate that on a tonne per kilometre basis, 85 per cent of transport of the material will be by rail and water only.

Commenting on the proposals Transport Minister, Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP said:

"This is a welcome announcement, which underlines the green credentials the Government is keen to see applied to this huge project, while reducing disruption to London's busy streets.

"We are building a new railway line that will benefit millions of people, both directly and indirectly. By using excavated material to redevelop Wallasea Island and aid regeneration in Kent we are also creating a legacy which will benefit areas far beyond the route for generations to come."

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of influential business group, London First said:

"Crossrail is crucial if London is to continue to compete for business investment and jobs with the other major world cities. It is vital that we have the infrastructure needed to accommodate growth. In building Crossrail and upgrading the Tube, London is investing for recovery while offering construction activity and jobs through the worst of the downturn."

Further details on the management of construction works in London were also outlined today. They include the tight control of lorry journeys, particularly in central London, and further emphasis on ensuring excavated material is removed in the most environmentally friendly and efficient way. Agreement has been reached with the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA) to transport the remainder of clean excavated material to regeneration sites in Kent where it will be used to assist with the future redevelopment of the area.

Crossrail has also confirmed its commitment to work with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to create a nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex. Over 4 million m³ of the excavated material generated from construction of the new tunnels will be used for the island. The proposals, which have been approved by Central Government and Essex County Council, will create one of the largest new wetland nature reserves in Europe for some 50 years.

The mud flat and salt marsh habitats created at Wallasea Island will act as a carbon sink and will soak up 2.2 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year. In the region of 400 hectares of this habitat will be created. The transport arrangements have been planned with consideration of the environment and hence carbon cost as a major factor. Transport by water is the order of a quarter of the carbon cost of transport by road.

Crossrail Chief Executive, Rob Holden said:

"All construction projects by their nature will result in some degree of disruption but it is critically important that the impact on central London is kept to a minimum while Crossrail's construction is underway. The Mayor and Central Government have been very clear that we must do all that we can to limit Crossrail's impact in terms of lorry movements.

"Crossrail has been in discussions with local authorities as well as residents and businesses for several years to plan these construction works but also to agree the most appropriate methods for transport of excavated material. The final destinations for the excavated material in Essex and Kent have been specifically chosen to ensure that the vast majority is transported by either rail or river thereby limiting the impact on the road network.

"That's why we've signed up to work with the PLA to help us make the most of the river for the project. Using the river is fundamental for us. You can move much more material on the river in one barge compared to a single lorry; doing so also takes much less energy and generates far fewer environmental emissions."

Port of London Authority Chief Executive, Richard Everitt said:

"The Thames is London's greenest highway. It's already the busiest waterway in the country. We've been working alongside the Crossrail team to help them make the most of the river to help keep the impact of the construction of the rail links to a minimum. Our role is to help turn their vision into reality, linking their construction operations with sites on the river for handling materials. Today we're talking about moving materials out of the capital. Just as important is using the river to get the vital building materials to site and that's something we're already working on."


Media inquiries:

Jonathan Baggs, Press Officer, Crossrail Press Office
Tel: 020 3229 9552
[email protected]

Martin Garside, Corporate Communications Manager, Port of London Authority
Tel: 01474-562366
Mob: 07736-362385
[email protected]

Jonathan Edwards, Press Officer, Mayor of London's Press Office
Tel: 020 7983 4337
Mob: 07825 781014
[email protected]

Notes to Editors

Photographs of this event are available to download from the Crossrail image library. Crossrail Events, Port of London MOU Sept 2009

Transportation of excavated material

Excavated material from tunnelling will generally be removed by rail and water while construction material from stations and station related work such as permanent access and ventilation shafts will generally be initially removed by road and then transferred to the river. Crossrail is working with the Port of London Authority and British Waterways to promote and maximise the use of water transport for delivery of construction materials and the removal of construction material and waste, and with the rail industry to ensure a joined-up approach to the use of rail for transportation of materials.

Excavated materials from eastern tunnelling sites will go direct by river to Wallasea Island in Essex and to two regeneration sites in Kent. Material from the western tunnelling site at Royal Oak near Paddington will go by rail to the sites in Kent while some material will go by river to Wallasea Island. The Grand Union Canal is located in close proximity to the Royal Oak tunnelling site and Crossrail is considering what potential role it can play with the transfer of excavated material and the delivery of construction materials.

Wallasea Island

At least two-thirds of all Crossrail excavated material, or 4 million m³, will be used to create a huge wildlife reserve in Essex. Clay, chalk, sand and gravel taken from the construction of Crossrail will be transferred by ship to Wallasea Island, eight miles north of Southend-on-Sea, which the RSPB will transform into 1,500 acres - nearly 2.5 square miles - of tidal wildlife habitat.

Last year the RSPB submitted a planning application to Essex County Council and consent was issued on 9 July. Development of Wallasea Island is expected to start in 2010.

Minimising disruption

Minimising disruption is a key commitment to Parliament, and Crossrail is currently establishing detailed work plans in advance of main construction starting next year.

This planning not only includes managing traffic movements but also embedding into work plans the requirements of the Crossrail Act relating to noise and dust reduction and contractor best practice. This includes, for example, lorry wheel washers so that soil and other debris is controlled in a responsible manner. Lorries will be required to travel on designated routes with local signing provided to the worksites.

Crossrail's delivery team is employing the best available logistics expertise to determine the most efficient and sustainable way for materials and equipment to be delivered to key central London construction sites while also maintaining traffic flows. This will include methodologies that will co-ordinate supply movements and consolidation centres where construction materials are delivered in bulk prior to being delivered to construction sites as and when needed.

Crossrail is also working closely with key London utility partners to put in place joint processes for the management of Crossrail-related utility works and impacts. They are due to agree matters such as health and safety, minimising and managing disruption to all parties, managing risks to networks, efficient joint working and forward planning of works.

The impact of Crossrail's construction was also lessened by the significant agreement reached in April with the London Fire Brigade that eight permanent access and ventilation shafts across London including at Hanbury Street are no longer required which will eliminate some lorry movements and construction works particularly in east London.

Designated Lorry Routes

Crossrail Lorries will be required to travel on designated routes with local signing provided from the main road network to ensure they keep to the approved routes. Worksites will be numbered and this will be used on local signing in agreement with the local highway authority

Lorry route plans are being produced for each area affected by Crossrail construction, including central London where the greatest activity will take place. The lorry routes are based on those that were submitted and scrutinised through the three-and-half year Crossrail Bill process. Submissions for approval of the routes under the Crossrail Act are being made to relevant local authorities

Traffic Liaison Groups consisting of Crossrail, local highways authorities, TfL and other key stakeholders are being set up to facilitate the planning of traffic management arrangements for Crossrail works. Local community liaison panels of residents and businesses are also being established. Five community liaison and eight Traffic Forums have already been set up.

Measures to limit congestion such as lorry holding areas will also be deployed. Lorries are called forward when a delivery can be accepted so as to assist in the efficient and safe management of vehicles in confined areas.

Tottenham Court Road

At Tottenham Court Road - one of the most advanced parts of the Crossrail programme which includes the major redevelopment of the existing Tube station - specific actions are already being taken to minimise impacts and disruption.

A co-ordinating body, run by Transport for London and involving Camden and Westminster Councils as well as the utility companies, has been set-up to look at all the works and projects, not just Crossrail, taking place in the Tottenham Court Road area, with the aim of maintaining traffic flows and access for deliveries, taxis, cyclists and other road users. This group feeds into a similar one looking at the entire central London area.

Crossrail has opened a visitor centre near Tottenham Court Road station, providing a one-stop shop for information about the Crossrail project and London Underground's redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road Tube station. The visitor centre enables local residents, businesses and anyone interested in the Crossrail project to get further information or have their queries answered by Crossrail staff. The visitor centre includes meeting facilities to be used for local community liaison panel meetings and other community engagement exercises.

The next stage of the station's redevelopment is now underway and will continue into the autumn, ahead of major construction works on the station starting early next year. To limit the impact on the environment, all materials recovered from the redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road station will be processed on site. In excess of 90 per cent of the material will be recycled with glass and metal being sent to commercial recyclers and the remaining rubble, including timber, brickwork and masonry, used on site for construction purposes.

Canary Wharf

Construction started on the Canary Wharf Station in the North Dock at Canary Wharf on 15 May 2009. The work requires approximately 150,000 m³ of materials to be excavated, which equates to approximately 300,000 tonnes. Not all of this will be transported - the preference is to test and re-use as much excavated material as possible on-site. The aim is to reuse around a third of the excavated soil.

Material that does have to be transported will predominantly be taken via river-borne barges, removing an estimated 20,000 lorry loads from East London and Essex roads. Much of this material will transported downstream to the Veolia Environmental Services Pitsea landfill site at Holehaven Creek. The first barge arrived at Pitsea on 23 July.

This material will help to transform the Pitsea site from landfill to high quality land for public access, without disturbing the nearby tidal mudflat, which is a 'site of special scientific interest'.

Canary Wharf Contractors has a long history of using water to transport construction materials. This helps it to alleviate impacts on the local community and environment and reduce costs and construction time.

Barges in use at the Canary Wharf site

• There are eight barges in use. There are normally 3/4 onsite at any one time.
• The largest a 350 tonne capacity. The smallest is a 120 tonne barge
• The large barges are approximately 25m x 6m wide and the smaller ones are 15m x 2m.

Progress on the station

• Work is proceeding to schedule and since the first Giken pile was launched on 15 May, 280 of 294 Giken tubes have been installed
• Approximately 65 percent of the contiguous piles, which support the Giken piles have been installed and the installing of the anchor piles has started.
• The installation of the capping beam, which forms part of the coffer dam on the outside of the worksite, has commenced

Crossrail Progress

The Crossrail Act received Royal Assent on 22 July 2008, granting the powers to build the railway, and Crossrail construction began on 15 May 2009 with work commencing at the new Crossrail Canary Wharf station. The main construction programme begins along the route in 2010.

Since Royal Assent Crossrail has been moving rapidly ahead and progress includes:

• Terry Morgan appointed Chairman, effective 1 June 2009
• Rob Holden became Chief Executive from 1 April 2009
• Appointment of Transcend as Crossrail Programme Partner
• Appointment of Crossrail Central (Bechtel, Halcrow & Systra) as Crossrail Project Delivery Partner
• Compulsory Purchase Notices issued and property acquired at Tottenham Court Road
• Tender issued for £500m London Underground works at Tottenham Court Road. The shortlist of companies has invited to tender was announced on 10 July, 2009. The contract for the Crossrail works at Tottenham Court Road will be advertised at a later date
• Station design contracts have been let
• OJEU notices for the first two tunnelling contracts have been issued
• Signing of funding agreements signed with BAA, City of London and Canary Wharf Group

Crossrail is promoted by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London.

About Crossrail

Crossrail will run 118 km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 60 minutes commuting distance of London's key business districts. When Crossrail opens in 2017 it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10 per cent, 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 will deliver substantial economic benefits for all of London and the South East after the new railway opens in 2017. A study published in February 2009 assessed the key benefits including faster journey times, reduced and public transport congestions, improved productivity and higher earnings. When the results are modelled for just one year - 2026 - the annual economic benefit across all of London's boroughs is estimated at £1.24bn at 2008 prices.

A tunnelling academy is due to open in 2010. Up to 14,000 people are estimated to be employed at the peak of construction in 2013/2015. Crossrail is Europe's largest construction project.

Preparatory works will continue throughout 2009 with the main construction programming starting in 2010 and tunnelling in 2011. Crossrail is scheduled to open for service in 2017.

About the Port of London Authority

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for navigational safety and related matters on 95 miles of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington in west London. The PLA provides navigational, pilotage and other services for users of the Thames.

London is the UK's second largest port, handling over 50 million tonnes of cargo each year.

The RSPB and the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project

• Wallasea Island is eight miles north of Southend-on-Sea. Its new saltmarshes will become natural sea defences, absorbing the power of the tides.

• The Essex estuaries are in the top five most important coastal wetlands in the country and are protected by national and European law.

• The RSPB scheme is called the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project. It will lead to the creation of 133 hectares of mudflats, 276 ha of saltmarsh, 45 ha of shallow saline lagoons, 109 ha of brackish grazing marsh and 22 ha of brackish marsh. About 15km of coastal walks and cycle routes will also be created as part of the project.

• In winter, the new habitats at Wallasea will attract a wide range of waterfowl species, including, brent geese, wigeon, avocet, lapwing, dunlin and redshank. Saltmarshes and other inter-tidal estuary land currently supports two million wildfowl and wading birds in the UK in winter.

• Saltwater fish including bass, herring and flounder are likely use the wetland as a nursery. Plants such as samphire, sea lavender and sea aster are expected to thrive.

• Because of development and sea level rise, inter-tidal habitats are disappearing at a rate of 100 hectares each year. The government has set a combined target for the recreation of saltmarshes and mudflats, of 3,600 hectares (8,895 acres) by 2015

• The Wallasea Wild Coast Project will demonstrate, through a large-scale practical example, adaptation to climate change and sea level rise on the coast.