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Eastern tunnels - Limmo Peninsula to Farringdon

At approximately 8.3 km in length, Limmo Peninsula to Farringdon was the longest of the five Crossrail tunnel drives. Two giant tunnelling machines, Elizabeth and Victoria, were launched in 2012 to drive westbound to Farringdon via Canary Wharf, Stepney Green shaft, Whitechapel and Liverpool Street at depths of up to 40 metres deep.

Crossrail TBM Elizabeth lowered into the main shaft, 25 October 2012

Unlike the western tunnels, the station and tunnelling access shafts on the eastern drive were constructed prior to the arrival of the TBMs. The tunnelling machines successfully broke through into each of the pre-constructed underground caverns, undergoing planned maintenance at each stop before being relaunched to continue their journeys towards Farringdon.

Crossrail’s eastern tunnelling machines, named Elizabeth and Victoria, were launched from the Limmo Peninsula site near Canning Town towards in late 2012 to create 8.3km (5.16 miles) of tunnels from east London to Farringdon – Crossrail’s longest tunnel section.

It took just over three years to construct the tunnels, with Elizabeth and Victoria successfully breaking through into Farringdon station in May 2015.

10 Crossrail tunnelling machine Elizabeth breaks through into Farringdon May 2015_196754

Elizabeth arrived at Farringdon on 9 May 2015 and sister machine Victoria successfully broke into Farringdon Crossrail station on 23 May at 5.30am. Victoria then constructed the remaining section of Crossrail tunnel as she progressed into Farringdon station, completing the job and linking all Crossrail tunnels.

Crossrail tunnelling ended on 26 May 2015 when TBM Victoria completed her journey.

12 Crossrail tunnelling machine Victoria breaks through into Farringdon May 2015_199321

Having completed their journeys beneath the capital, Victoria and Elizabeth will now be dismantled. Their 130 metre trailers will be removed from the tunnel via the shaft at Stepney Green and returned to manufacturer Herrenknect, with parts recycled for future tunnelling projects.

The cutterheads will be cut into small pieces and removed via the shaft at Farringdon. The front “cans” of each machine will be left in the tunnel, and Crossrail trains will pass through them when services begin in 2018.