Tunnelling begins in southeast London

11 January 2013

Crossrail’s fifth tunnelling machine, Sophia, began her journey from Plumstead to North Woolwich as part of the construction of a tunnel under the River Thames for London’s new rail link, Crossrail announced yesterday. As the only slurry machine, the TBM is equipped to deal with the chalk, flint and wet ground conditions that it will encounter in southeast London.

The 110m TBM is scheduled to drill at an average rate of around 100 metres a week, installing precast concrete segments as rings to form the tunnel lining as it advances forwards.

When Crossrail opens, up to 12 trains per hour during peak time will link southeast London and the Royal Docks with Canary Wharf and central London. Crossrail stated it will enable local residents to get to and from London's key employment areas much more quickly and easily; the journey from Abbey Wood to Bond Street will be around 20 minutes quicker.

Stephen Hammond, Crossrail minister, said: "The launch of Sophia, Crossrail's fifth tunnelling machine, demonstrates the great progress the project is making, stimulating the economy, generating thousands of jobs during construction and delivering huge transport improvements to people living in southeast London".

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail's chief executive, added: "The start of tunnelling in southeast London marks another milestone for Crossrail, a project that will transform public transport in and around the capital. The benefits for southeast London are huge - for the first time people living between Abbey Wood and the Royal Docks will be able to travel right through the centre of the capital without having to change trains, bringing Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow closer than ever before."

Across the Crossrail project, eight tunnelling machines will construct 21km of twin tunnels under London. The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.