Crossrail tunnelling gets under way in east London

Crossrail has started boring out its longest tunnel section with a 1,000-tonne drilling machine called ‘Elizabeth’ which is burrowing along a five-mile route deep across east London.

The giant drill is churning through soil 120ft below ground after having been lowered into a shaft at Limmo Peninsula on the Lea River next to Canning Town Bridge last month.

It is creating the first of two twin tunnels from Docklands to Farringdon in the City.

A second machine called ‘Victoria’ is also in place and ready to start a parallel tunnel before Christmas.

The 450ft-long machines push forwards as precast concrete segments are put in place to line the tunnels.


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The segments are manufactured at Chatham in Kent and brought in by barge, to avoid using the streets. Ships are also being used to transport the excavated soil to Wallasea Island in the Thames Estuary to create a 1,500-acre nature reserve.

Crossrail chief Andrew Wolstenholme said: “Using boats and barges to remove materials from these tunnels will keep thousands of lorries off the road in east London.”

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The machines are aimed towards Canary Wharf where they get a maintenance ‘makeover’ in the New Year before continuing on to Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and Farringdon by late 2014.

They join six other tunnelling machines drilling out 13 miles of tunnels across London between Docklands and Paddington.

London’s �15 billion ‘super tube’ opens in 2018 with 37 stations along a 73-mile route from Heathrow and Maidenhead in the west, to Shenfield in the east with a branch from Whitechapel to Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood.

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