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Paying a visit to the Crossrail tunnels as work continues

The tunnelling at the Crossrail site in Pudding Mill Lane. The tunnelling at the Crossrail site in Pudding Mill Lane.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
6:00 PM

It’s the point where 1,000 tonne tunnelling machines were launched into action and where thousands of passengers travelling from Havering will begin their descent underground.

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And kitted out in hard hat and protective footwear I was invited to see Crossrail’s Pudding Mill Lane, Stratford site, which marks the point where trains will make their way into the tunnels, which will stretch right the way through central London and into Paddington in the west.

Two of Crossrail’s 1,000-tonne tunnelling machines were launched from this point, named “Jessica” and “Ellie” after two of the famous Olympians from London 2012, Jessica Ennis and Ellie Simmonds, a nod to how close the portal is to the Olympic Park.

Excavation work is still taking place to get the clay out of the tunnel and these machines will create just over a mile of new tunnels between Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney.

We are shown the concrete segments that line the tunnels, after being put together to form a ring.

I am told that there are 1,751 of these rings in the whole drive. 770 rings had been installed so far, meaning that they are well over a kilometre into the tunnel.

“We have got some very good crews up here, some very good, very experienced people and I think everyone works very well together,” said Bob Brown, site manager. Next was a trip to Stepney Green caverns, which are among the largest mined caverns ever constructed in Europe. This is where the Crossrail route will split in two. One section will make its way towards Essex and the other towards south east London.

There are currently more than 10,000 people working on 40 sites across London,

The crews are on target and by 2019 passengers will be able to use the services.

Once open the new rail line will carry an estimated 200 million passengers a year, with trains carrying up to 1,500 people during rush hour.

There will be changes to overground stations such as Ilford and Romford, and surface director Matthew White is optimistic about what Crossrail has to offer.

Speaking about Romford station, he said: “The inside will be remodelled to create much more space and there will be a new entrance to the north side of the station so more people can access it more easily.”

Residents using stations between Stratford and Shenfield are also set to benefit from new lifts, longer platforms and in some cases changes to ticket halls and station entrances.

For more photos from the visit see our gallery to the right.

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