The Mayor of London and the UK Secretary of State for Transport today revealed the first of the eight giant 1,000 tonne TBMs that will carve Crossrail’s 21km of twin tube tunnels under the capital. The TBM will today begin its journey to the Royal Oak Portal in west London from where, next week, it will start tunnelling 6.4km east to Farringdon via Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road.
The TBM will now be placed on self-propelled mobile trailer and moved to Royal Oak Portal, around 400m from its current location at Westbourne Park.
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Once the first machine has progressed sufficiently, the second TBM to be used on this western section will then be launched from Royal Oak. When the second TBM has reached Paddington, both machines will then progress forward through the Paddington station box to Bond Street and then onwards to Farringdon.
Later this year, a second pair of machines will launch from Limmo in Docklands driving 8.3km west towards Farringdon via Whitechapel and Liverpool Street. In the winter, two more TBMs will be launched from Plumstead travelling 2.6km and under the River Thames to North Woolwich.
Joint Venture partners BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and Kier Construction (BFK) were awarded the US$782M western tunnels contract to construct the tunnels between Royal Oak and Farringdon in December 2010.
Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “The first tunnel boring machine will shortly get underway on its journey from Royal Oak to Farringdon via Paddington, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road and will arrive at Farringdon in autumn 2013. Further machines will be launched later in 2012 and beyond. The extent the tunnels to be built under London are on a scale not seen for many years. By late 2014, over 21km of twin-bore tunnel will have been constructed.”
Crossrail Chairman Terry Morgan said: “The start of tunnelling is a hugely significant and symbolic milestone. Massive progress has been made since the start of Crossrail construction in May 2009 with work underway at nearly twenty sites along the route. Crossrail will bring significant economic and transport benefits to London and the south east with hundreds of British businesses now part of the Crossrail supply chain.”
Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening said: “Crossrail will make a huge difference to generations of Londoners, reducing journey times, improving connectivity, supporting the economy and creating jobs. It’s exciting that we’ve reached this landmark for this world-class testament to our engineering excellence.”
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London said: “This mammoth project has already delivered thousands of skilled jobs in London, and once complete will create significant extra capacity to help people travel around this great city, dramatically reducing journey times to support the economic resilience of our capital over decades to come.
“Crossrail is set to build upon the transport benefits Londoners are already seeing as a result of the Neo-Victorian level of investment that has flowed from the Olympics and the upgrades being delivered on the Tube. The sight today of these mighty tunnelling machines primed for action is a significant step forward in the construction of this vital infrastructure project.”