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Tunnel segment plant begins full operations and creates jobs for unemployed

By Krista Eleftheriou

Tunnel segment plant begins full operations and creates jobs for unemployed
  • New factory becomes fully operational producing the first of 250,000 concrete segments to line the Crossrail tunnels

  • The first of 15 trainees and apprentices start work, some of whom have been unemployed for up to 12 months

  • Prime Minister visits Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy during National Apprenticeship Week

A new tunnel segment manufacturing facility has begun full operations in west London, pouring the first batch of 250,000 concrete segments that will line 42km (26 miles) of Crossrail tunnels.

Located at Old Oak Common, the facility will employ about 60 people at its peak, including the first of 15 trainees and apprentices, some of whom have been unemployed for up to 12 months.

They are among the first group of apprentices and trainees to receive training at the new Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) – a facility that will not only train up to 3,500 people to work on Crossrail, but will also continue to operate well beyond the Crossrail project and help the UK become a world leader in tunnelling construction.

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, the Prime Minister David Cameron and Skills Ministers John Hayes yesterday visited TUCA and met several apprentices.

The segment production has begun ahead of the start of Crossrail tunnelling next month, with the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) currently being assembled at Westbourne Park. The concrete segments will be loaded onto the 1,000 tonne mobile underground factory. As the 140 metre long machine advance forward the precast concrete segments will be formed into rings to line the tunnels behind the TBM cutter head.

Joint venture contractors, BAM Ferrovial Kier (BFK), will manufacture more than 75,000 tunnel segments at the Old Oak Common site to be used in the 6.4 kilometre (4 mile) twin tunnels running between Royal Oak in west London and Farringdon.  Construction of the segment factory for the eastern running tunnels between Farringdon and Docklands is currently underway at Chatham in Kent and scheduled for completion in late April.

Crossrail’s Western Tunnels Project Manager Andy Alder said: “Preparations are well underway for the start of Crossrail tunnelling next month. Ahead of that, we are stockpiling tunnel segments and have begun pouring the first batches of more than 250,000 concrete segments that will be made to line 42 kilometres of Crossrail tunnels. The new factory at Old Oak Common is a good example of Crossrail delivering new employment opportunities for unemployed people. These trainees and apprentices will gain new skills that provide the opportunity for a long-term career in the construction industry.”

At least 400 apprenticeships will be created over the life of the Crossrail project. More than 70 apprentices have already started work.

The trainees and apprentices at the concrete segment factory have received pre-apprenticeship training at TUCA in abrasive wheels, manual handling, site logistics and pre-cast concrete manufacturing, and passed their CSCS Health and Safety tests.

Among the trainees is Nara Pina, 21, from Goodmayes, who says after being unemployed she is hopeful her traineeship will set her up for a career in civil engineering: “2011 was a hard year. But everything came together in the end. I was accepted into college studying civil engineering and started this job as a trainee engineer. Everything you want in life is hard. When you want something you just have to pursue it otherwise there is no point in having dreams."

The factory will produce more than 200 segments per day at its peak and include a laboratory to test the quality of the concrete to ensure that the segments have a 120 year life. The factory has been built specifically for the production of Crossrail’s tunnel segments with the site to become home to a major Crossrail train depot once segment production is completed.

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Notes to Editors

The European Social Fund has funded the pre-apprenticeship training at TUCA. Other partners include BFK, Jobcentre Plus and National Construction College.

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 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.