Crossrail:One of Europe’s largest cranes lowers giant boring machine into Canning Town dig

A 550 tonne ‘mechanical mole’ has been was lowered into a 40 metre deep shaft opposite Canning Town Station ahead of tunnelling for Crossrail’s eastern section.

It marked a major milestone in the construction of the �14.8bn rail line connecting East and West London.

The delicate operation on Thursday required one of the largest cranes in Europe to lift the equivalent of 280 London taxis.

Perfect weather conditions were needed, and the light winds and no rain allowed for Elizabeth, as the boring machine is named, to be moved underground.

The Crossrail team at Limmo Peninsula will shortly repeat the operation with sister machine Victoria.

Together the pair will construct Crossrail’s longest tunnel section - 8.3 kilometres between Canning Town and Farringdon.

Crossrail’s chief executive, Andrew Wolstenholme, said: “This is a significant milestone for Crossrail’s progress in East London.

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“When Crossrail is completed it will dramatically improve transport in east London and bring places like Custom House and Abbey Wood to within 20 minutes of London’s major employment areas.”

Later this year Elizabeth will start travelling under the River Lea towards Canary Wharf.

Preparations have already started to receive Elizabeth with workers breaking out hard concrete at the other side of the tunnel to allow the machine to enter the station next year. Both tunnelling machines will undergo maintenance before continuing their journeys toward Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and Farringdon.

Work is also underway on the River Lea to construct a jetty to berth ships taking 1.2 million tonnes of earth to Wallasea Island to create a RSPB nature reserve.