A new tunnel segment manufacturing facility has begun full operations in west London, pouring the first batch of 250,000 concrete segments that will line 42km of Crossrail tunnels.
Located at Old Oak Common, the facility will employ about 60 people at its peak, including the first of 15 trainees and apprentices, some of whom have been unemployed for up to 12 months.
They are among the first group of apprentices and trainees to receive training at the new Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) – a facility that will not only train up to 3,500 people to work on Crossrail, but will also continue to operate well beyond the Crossrail project and help the UK become a world leader in tunnelling construction.
As part of National Apprenticeship Week, the Prime Minister David Cameron and Skills Ministers John Hayes yesterday visited TUCA and met several apprentices.
The segment production has begun ahead of the start of Crossrail tunnelling next month, with the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) currently being assembled at Westbourne Park. The concrete segments will be loaded onto the 1,000 tonne mobile underground factory. As the 140m long machine advance forward the precast concrete segments will be formed into rings to line the tunnels behind the TBM cutter head.
Joint venture contractors, BAM Ferrovial – Kier (BFK), will manufacture more than 75,000 tunnel segments at the Old Oak Common site to be used in the 6.4km twin tunnels running between Royal Oak in west London and Farringdon. Construction of the segment factory for the eastern running tunnels between Farringdon and Docklands is currently underway at Chatham in Kent and scheduled for completion in late April.
Crossrail’s Western Tunnels Project Manager Andy Alder said: “Preparations are well underway for the start of Crossrail tunnelling next month. Ahead of that, we are stockpiling tunnel segments and have begun pouring the first batches of more than 250,000 concrete segments that will be made to line 42km of Crossrail tunnels. The new factory at Old Oak Common is a good example of Crossrail delivering new employment opportunities for unemployed people. These trainees and apprentices will gain new skills that provide the opportunity for a long-term career in the construction industry.”
The factory will produce more than 200 segments per day at its peak and include a laboratory to test the quality of the concrete to ensure that the segments have a 120 year life. The factory has been built specifically for the production of Crossrail’s tunnel segments with the site to become home to a major Crossrail train depot once segment production is completed.