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Tunnelling giant Jessica takes a road trip to get in place for the last stretch of tunnel

By Steve Kennedy

Crossrail tunnelling giant Jessica has completed another epic journey through the heart of east London; but this time it was on the back of a lorry.

Just two months after completing her 2.7 kilometre tunnel drive from Pudding Mill Lane to one of Europe’s largest mined caverns at Stepney Green, Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Jessica made a 5 kilometre journey to her next launch point at the project’s eastern tunnel’s Limmo Peninsula site at Canning Town.

To make the trip, Jessica was dismantled, lifted out in pieces by crane, loaded onto heavy load carrying flatbeds and transported from Stepney by road in a series of carefully managed operations taking place during a month long process.

On Sunday 6 April, Jessica’s iconic 7.1 metre diameter cutterhead and 65 tonne shield were driven through the streets – and through the Limehouse Link – before being unloaded at Limmo Peninsula to be re-assembled and put back to work constructing the final Crossrail tunnels between Limmo and Victoria Dock Portal. 

Dragados Sisk Joint Venture, the contractor constructing Crossrail's eastern running tunnels, have spent several months working with the Metropolitan Police and local authorities to carefully plan the route through the heart of east London.

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