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Jobs created at new factory in Kent to supply Crossrail

By Stuart Buss

Jobs created at new factory in Kent to supply Crossrail
  • Factory in full production to produce 110,000 concrete segments to line Crossrail’s eastern tunnels
  • More than 120 jobs created at Chatham Dockyard factory
  • Segments being transported from Chatham to London by barge

A new tunnel segment manufacturing facility at Chatham in Kent is in full production to produce and ship 110,000 concrete segments that will line the eastern tunnels of the new Crossrail route through London and the south-east.  

More than 120 new jobs have been created and filled by local workers at the Chatham Dockyard factory, including 5 apprenticeships. The facility began operation last year and is now in full production, operating 24/7 and manufacturing more than 300 concrete tunnel segments a day. Each 8 segments produced form a complete tunnel ring in the new Crossrail tunnels and the Chatham factory has now produced over 2,200 tunnel rings.

The Chatham site was selected due to its dockyard location allowing concrete segments to be delivered by barge from Chatham to the entrance of Crossrail’s eastern tunnels at Limmo Peninsula near Canning Town. Each 50 metre long 1,200 tonne barge can deliver around 320 tunnel segments, the equivalent of 40 lorry loads.

The concrete segments produced at Chatham are being used to line 8.3km of new tunnels being built to form the eastern section of the Crossrail route. Two huge tunnel boring machines (TBM) Elizabeth and Victoria are burrowing their way from the Limmo site in east London towards Farringdon in central London - as the 150 metre-long TBMs advance forward, the precast concrete segments are formed into rings to line the tunnels behind the TBM cutter head.

Bill Tucker, Crossrail Area Director Central said: “The Chatham factory is playing a crucial role in the delivery of Crossrail, supplying 110,000 segments to line the new tunnels being built in London. By creating new jobs for local people, the Chatham factory set up by our contractor DSJV is ensuring the economic benefits of Crossrail spread well beyond the capital. With a number of UK tunnelling projects in the pipeline, we hope this manufacturing facility will help contribute towards a lasting skills legacy beyond Crossrail.”

Crossrail are working closely with the Port of London Authority to use the River Thames to transport materials and waste throughout the project, including the concrete segments from Chatham to east London.

James Trimmer, Port of London Authority's Head of Planning and Partnerships, said: “The Thames is ideally placed for major infrastructure projects like Crossrail and we have worked together to realise a vision for making full use of the river. It's great to now see that vision coming to life, as vessels carrying tunnelling spoil heading out of London on the Thames pass others bringing tunnel segments to site. Last year saw over three million tonnes of goods and materials moved on the Thames. This keeps over 150,000 lorry movements off the roads, reducing emissions and saving communities close to construction sites from unnecessary exposure to traffic congestion.”

Crossrail and its contractors are working closely with local job centres and Kent construction hire firm Cheema to place local people in the roles created at the Chatham factory. New jobs created at the factory include general operatives, crane drivers, concrete finishers, and forklift drivers. As well as creating local job opportunities, the factory has also delivered business benefits to two Kent firms:

  • Brett Concrete, from Maidstone in Kent, have supplied around 25,000 cubic metres of concrete to date which has been used in the production of the concrete segments at the Chatham factory. Supplying materials to the factory has allowed the company to take on 6 new staff so far.
  • Medway Ports, part of the Peel Ports Group who own the Chatham Docks site, are benefitting from the use of the Chatham site for Crossrail’s production and barge deliveries. Some 340 barge movements will take place through Chatham Docks to transport 110,000 concrete segments during the Crossrail project

The Chatham facility has been constructed by joint venture contractor Dragados Sisk who are building Crossrail’s eastern tunnels. Facilities at the factory include:

  • A 4,500m2 size factory, housed in a renovated former steel storage building
  • Two concrete segment production lines on thefactory floor each using a series of concrete moulds to form the tunnel segments – the moulds are flexible and can be adapted to produce concrete products for a range of future projects
  • An on-site testing laboratory to analyse samples of the concrete segments produced to ensure they are of the high-quality needed to be used in Crossrail tunnels – the lab includes tests on the compression, tensile strength, flexibility and fibre-content of the concrete segments produced
  • A 25,000m2 storage yard, the equivalent size of 100 tennis courts, where up to 16,000 concrete segments can be stored before being loaded onto barges
  • An on-site computerised concrete batching facility to deliver a ready supply of concrete to manufacture the tunnel segments

A small wharf has been constructed at Limmo Peninsula in east London to receive the barges carrying the concrete segments from Kent. A large gantry crane then unloads the segments and lowers them into the 44 metre deep shaft where the tunnel entrance is located. The segments are loaded onto small locomotives that deliver the segments to the tunnelling machines.

Chatham is one of two major concrete segment factories manufacturing pre-cast concrete segments to line a total of 42 kilometres of tunnels under London. A second factory is located at Old Oak Common in west London to supply segments to the western tunnels between Royal Oak, near Paddington and Farringdon.

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

Notes to Editors:

Crossrail contractor Dragados Sisk is constructing Crossrail’s tunnels between the Victoria Docks in east London and Farringdon and Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green.

About Crossrail:

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 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.