Crossrail’s second east London tunnel gets going towards Canary Wharf

The second giant drilling machine digging out a deep-level tunnel for Crossrail under east London has started work.

The 1,000-tonne boring machine named ‘Victoria’ is following a parallel tunnel started by its sister machine called ‘Elizabeth’ two weeks before.

Both were lowered in sections down a 150ft shaft near the Lea Estuary at Canning Town, by the Thames opposite the O2 Arena, ready to drill out five miles of twin tunnels towards Canary Wharf, Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and on to Farringdon by 2014.

They are Crossrail’s third and fourth tunnelling machines after two named ‘Phyllis’ and ‘Ada’ set off in west London towards Farringdon from Paddington earlier this year.

Eight tunnelling machines are set to drill a total of 13 miles of twin tunnels between Docklands and Paddington.

The �15 billion project opening in 2018 has 37 stations along 73 miles from Maidenhead and Heathrow through the West End and City to Whitechapel, then splitting with one branch to Stratford and Shenfield and the other to Canary Wharf and under the Thames to Abbey Wood in south-east London.