Cookies on the Crossrail website

We use cookies to ensure we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Crossrail website.

Find out why we use cookies and how to manage your settings.

Last chance for public to nominate their ‘modern day heroes’ in TBM naming competition

By Stuart Buss

Last chance for public to nominate their ‘modern day heroes’ in TBM naming competition
  • Sporting heroes, politicians, royalty and pop stars among more than 600 names nominated so far for final two tunnelling machines
  • Naming competition continues until Friday 7th June – Click here for details

What have Olympians, Paralympians, politicians, members of the Royal Family, actresses, pop stars and famous authors got in common? The answer is that they’re all among the names suggested by the public so far in the naming competition for Crossrail’s final two tunnelling machines.

A total of eight Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) will be used to build 26 miles (42km) of tunnels beneath London to form the central section of the Crossrail route. An event last week gave a glimpse of the scale and power of the huge 1,000 tonne machines as TBM Elizabeth broke through into the new Canary Wharf station box, marking the biggest milestone in the Crossrail project so far.

The naming of TBMs after women is a long-held tunnelling tradition and last month Crossrail asked the public to nominate their ‘modern day heroes’ as part of a naming competition for the project’s final two tunnelling machines. The TBMs will build a 2.7km section of the Crossrail route from Pudding Mill Lane close to the Olympic Park in east London. More than 600 names have been nominated by the public so far from people of all ages and from all parts of the UK, with naming suggestions including:

  • Jess – after Olympic Gold-medal winner Jessica Ennis
  • Ellie – after Paralympic double Gold-medal winner Ellie Simmonds
  • Maggie / Margaret – after former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
  • Joanne – after JK Rowling, best known as the author of the Harry Potter series
  • Kate / Catherine – after Kate Middleton who became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at the Royal Wedding in 2011
  • Adele – after Oscar-winning British singer-songwriter Adele Adkins
  • Helen – after Oscar-winning British actress Helen Mirren
  • Florence – after Florence Nightingale, celebrated as the founder of modern nursing

The tunnelling machine naming competition is open for people to nominate names at, closing on Friday 7th June. A final shortlist of names will then be selected with Crossrail workers, including those who will work on the final two tunnelling machines, choosing two winning names from the shortlisted public nominations. The winning names will be etched onto the side of the two machines before they are launched on their tunnelling journey later this summer.

Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “The recent Canary Wharf breakthrough highlights how impressive these huge tunnelling machines are so this is chance for the public to help us name our final two. There has been a great response to our naming competition so far, with people of all ages and from all parts of the UK suggesting some inspirational modern figures. With just a week left for public nominations, I encourage everyone to put forward their final suggestions for our tunnelling machines that will soon be making their mark on the capital.”

The names of Crossrail’s first six TBMs were each inspired by British heritage and history – tunnelling machines Ada and Phyllis in west London named after early computer scientist Ada Lovelace and Phyllis Pearsall who created the London A-Z; Elizabeth and Victoria in east London, named after Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II; and Mary and Sophia in southeast London, named after the wives of famous railway engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Marc Isambard Brunel.

For the final two tunnelling machines Crossrail is looking ahead to the modern day, asking the public to nominate their ‘modern day heroes’ and inspirational women.

The final two tunnelling machines will be used in Crossrail’s tunnelling drive from Pudding Mill Lane, near Stratford in east London. The machines will tunnel beneath east London to Stepney Green, helping link the surface railway from Shenfield in Essex, through Stratford Station, into the central tunnelled section of the new Crossrail route.

The two 150 metre long, 1,000 tonne tunnelling machines are currently being assembled on site at Pudding Mill Lane. The first machine is set to start tunnelling in the summer and the second machine will start in early 2014. The machines are expected to complete their tunnelling drive by summer 2014.


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

About Crossrail:

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. 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 below central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

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.