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Crossrail’s eighth tunnel boring machine launches in east London

By Hamish McDougall

Crossrail’s eighth tunnel boring machine launches in east London

Tunnel Boring Machine Ellie has begun her journey from Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green in London’s East End.

Ellie is the eighth Crossrail tunnelling machine to be launched and the last to be inaugurated. She broke ground a stone’s throw from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will dive up to 30 metres below ground on her 2.7 kilometre journey to Stepney Green, before breaking into one of Europe’s largest mined caverns later this year. The tunnel will form part of Crossrail’s north east spur from Whitechapel to Shenfield in Essex.

Ellie is staffed by 20 people, weighs 1,000 tonnes, is 150 metres long and 7.1 metres in diameter. Her sister machine, Jessica, completed the journey from Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green on 3 February and in the coming weeks will be taken to Limmo Peninsula near Canning Town in east London, where she will begin Crossrail’s last tunnel drive towards Victoria Dock Portal.

Ellie was named after Paralympic Champion Ellie Simmonds OBE and Jessica is named after Olympic Champion Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE. Both names were chosen by pupils from Marion Richardson School in Stepney.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “Crossrail’s continuing progress is evidence of Britain’s ability to deliver large scale infrastructure projects on time and within budget. It is fitting that our latest tunnelling milestone, the launch of our eighth machine, Ellie, is taking place only a short distance from the scene of some of Britain’s greatest modern sporting triumphs.”

Ellie Simmonds OBE said: “It’s very flattering to have been chosen, alongside the amazing Jessica Ennis-Hill, as one of the inspirational women after which a TBM has been named. It’s not every day you have a tunnel machine named after you and I wish ‘Ellie’, and all those involved with it, the best of luck in its maiden journey.”

The launch of Ellie continues an unprecedented period of tunnelling milestones, with the western tunnels reaching structural completion, the first Crossrail tunnel beneath the Thames completing at North Woolwich and three tunnel boring machine breakthroughs at Whitechapel and Stepney Green in recent weeks. Tunnel machine Mary has also recently re-launched from Woolwich Box and will complete the final section of Crossrail tunnel under the Thames between Plumstead and North Woolwich.

Crossrail recently passed the halfway point in its construction on time and within budget. Over 30 kilometres out of 42km of bored tunnels are now complete.

Crossrail will add 10% capacity to London’s rail network. It will serve 38 stations, running for more than 100 kilometres from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via central London. 10,000 people currently work on Crossrail, which is at the peak of construction. The project is supporting 55,000 full time equivalent jobs across the UK.

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

Notes to Editor

Joint Venture Dragados Sisk is constructing the eastern tunnels between Limmo Peninsula and Farringdon, Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green and Victoria Dock Portal and Limmo.

For a YouTube video showing an animation of Crossrail tunnelling, click here.

Crossrail’s recent tunnel milestones: 



20 January 2014

TBM Elizabeth breaks through into Whitechapel Crossrail station

24 January 2014

TBM Ada completes her journey from Royal Oak to Farringdon. The western tunnels are now structurally complete.

29 January 2014

TBM Sophia arrives at North Woolwich portal, completing her journey from Plumstead

30 January 2014

TBM Victoria breaks into Stepney Green cavern

3 February 2014

TBM Jessica breaks into Stepney Green cavern, completing her journey from Pudding Mill Lane

25 February

TBM Ellie launches from Pudding Mill Lane towards Stepney Green.

Eight tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will construct ten different tunnels to collectively deliver 42 kilometres of new train tunnels under London. TBM tunnelling is now 70 per cent complete. A gang of 20 people work in the tunnel on each shift to keep each machine operating.

About Crossrail

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 38 stations and runs for more than 100km 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.

Twitter: @crossrail