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First Crossrail tunnelling machine completes her journey

By Krista Eleftheriou


  • Crossrail completes its first train tunnel under London as tunnelling machine Phyllis finishes Royal Oak to Farringdon tunnel
  • Tunnel construction reaches the half way mark in 26 mile tunnel marathon
  • Time capsule competition launched for items to be placed inside the tunnel, the winners will be offered a guided tour of a Crossrail site

Crossrail has completed the construction of the first of its new train tunnels under London. It comes as Crossrail’s tunnelling machines reach the 13 mile point in their 26 mile marathon tunnel build.

Crossrail tunnelling machine Phyllis has finished the project’s first train tunnel, 17 months after commencing her 4.2 mile (6.8 km) journey from Royal Oak in west London and Farringdon in central London.

Phyllis and six other Crossrail tunnelling machines have collectively passed the 13 mile mark (21.4 km) of their 26 mile marathon to build major new train tunnels under London as part of works to deliver the most significant addition to London’s transport in a generation.

Phyllis’ sister machine, Ada, is in the Holborn area and is due to complete tunnelling during the winter while another six machines will finish tunnelling next year.

During the coming weeks, Phyllis will be dismantled and her 130 metre long trailer system will be removed from the tunnel via the recently completed Fisher Street shaft. Crossrail is asking Londoners to submit ideas for items to be included in a time capsule at the Farringdon site to mark the first completed tunnel. Those with the winning suggestions will have the opportunity to be among the first to visit the completed tunnel later this year.

Andy Mitchell, Crossrail Programme Director said: “Crossrail’s construction continues to move ahead at a significant pace. Crossrail has not only completed the first Crossrail tunnel under London but has reached the half-way point for our tunnelling machines with a phenomenal 13 miles of tunnels constructed to-date. A further six tunnelling machines are currently hard at work constructing over 100 metres of new tunnel each day with major tunnelling due to complete next year.”

This week, the final pre-cast concrete rings will be cast at Crossrail’s temporary concrete segment factory for the western tunnels at Old Oak Common. The rings are erected by the tunnelling machine as it excavates the earth and moves forward underground.

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. Another 9,000 people are working across the project.

When it opens in 2018, Crossrail 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 closer to the capital’s business centres. Over 200 million passengers will travel on Crossrail each year.

To enter Crossrail’s time capsule competition, visit

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

Notes to Editor

Crossrail’s time capsule competition is open to all ages. Winners will be offered the opportunity to visit a Crossrail worksite.

Crossrail’s eight tunnelling machines will build ten different tunnels to collectively deliver 26 miles of new tunnels under London. Tunnelling machine has completed her tunnel drive and will be dismantled leaving just the front “can” in situ. A further six tunnel boring machine (TBM) are still working under London and the final TBM, Ellie, will launch this winter.

The naming of TBMs after women is a long-held tunnelling tradition. Tunnelling machines Ada and Phyllis were named after early computer scientist Ada Lovelace and Phyllis Pearsall who created the London A-Z.

Each tunnelling machine is 150 metres long and weigh 1,000 tonnes. A gang of 20 people work in the tunnel one each shift to keep each machine operating.

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

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.