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Voting now underway to name Crossrail’s giant tunnel boring machines

By Peter MacLennan

Voting now underway to name Crossrail’s giant tunnel boring machines
  • Crossrail publishes shortlist of names for the tunnel boring machines that will tunnel under London

  • Voting open until the end of February with the three winners as well as three lucky voters receiving a prize

Crossrail has received a huge response to its competition to name six of the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will construct the major new rail tunnels under London.

The competition has attracted nearly 2,500 entries from across London and the UK with a huge selection of imaginative ideas for the three pairs of machines.

A shortlist of names has now been selected by a Crossrail panel. This features ideas inspired by British heritage, literature, London life, transport, engineering as well as famous Britons.

The ten pairs of names are:

TBM Name A

TBM Name B




Characters from Charles Dickens novels - Oliver Twist and Little Nell from The Old Curiosity Shop.



Matilda was the wife of William the Conqueror. Millie comes from the old English name Millicent which means 'Strength'.



Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.



Characters from The Railway Children, Roberta (Bobbie) and Phyllis.



Ada Lovelace was one of the earliest computer scientists. She worked with Charles Babbage on his "analytical engine", and is regarded as having written the first computer program. Phyllis Pearsall single-handedly created the London A-Z.  She walked 23,000 streets and a total of 3,000 miles to compile the map.



Characters from EastEnders – Peggy Mitchell and Pat Butcher.



Named after Gracie Fields and Vera Lynn - who epitomized the British 'Blitz Spirit'.



Mary was the wife of the famous railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sophia was the wife of Marc Isambard Brunel who built the first tunnel under the Thames.



Medal winning British sprinters Dorothy Manley and Audrey Williamson who competed in the 1948 London Olympics.



Characters from the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield - Betsy Trotwood and Dora.

Public voting on the shortlist is now open, and will close on 29 Feb 2012. To vote, visit

Andy Mitchell, Crossrail Programme Director said: “We received a fantastic response to our competition to name six of the tunnel boring machines that will tunnel under London. Nearly 2,500 entries were submitted with people drawing inspiration from from Charles Dickens and Brunel through to EastEnders. A shortlist of names for the first six Crossrail tunnel boring machines is now open to the public vote via the Crossrail website.”

The winning names will be painted onto the tunnel boring machines prior to their launch. Prizes will be awarded to the three entrants who receive the most votes as well as three lucky voters.

This spring, the first two 140 metre long TBMs weighing 1,000 tonnes will travel 6.4 km (4 miles) east from Royal Oak via Paddington, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road before reaching Farringdon in summer 2013.

Later this year, the second pair of machines will launch from Limmo in Docklands driving 8.3 km (5.2 miles) west towards Farringdon via Whitechapel and Liverpool Street. In the winter, two TBMs will be launched from Plumstead travelling 2.6 km (1.6 miles) and under the River Thames to North Woolwich.

The winning entrants and three voters will have the option of a prize of either Eurostar vouchers or an annual family pass to Merlin Theme Parks, which have been donated by Crossrail’s tunneling and delivery contractors. Those who have named the machines will also be invited to attend the tunneling launch event at Royal Oak.

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

Notes to Editors:

The winning names will be announced in early March.

Terms and conditions for the competition can be found on the Crossrail website. The competition is open to UK residents.

Members of the panel to shortlist the TBM names were drawn from the three main tunnelling contractors and Crossrail senior management.

The new Crossrail tunnels will run between Royal Oak in west London and Pudding Mill Lane and Victoria Dock in east London. There will also be a further, shorter tunnel between Plumstead and North Woolwich. A total of eight TBMs will construct the Crossrail tunnels.

Arrangements for naming the remaining two TBMs that will construct the shorter tunnel drive in east London will be confirmed at a later date. These TBMs will be launched in 2014.

Prizes have been donated by delivery partner Bechtel Limited, Joint Ventures comprising BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier Construction (BFK); Dragados S.A and John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd; and Hochtief Construction AG, J Murphy & Sons Ltd.

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 across the capital, helping to secure London's position as a world leading financial centre, 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.