Crossrail Project London Begins New Docklands Tunnel Drive

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Crossrail Project London Begins New Docklands Tunnel Drive

Crossrail is a £14.8 billion travel infrastructure project that is projected to improve rail links in the capital. The Crossrail route will pass through 40 stations and run from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

When Crossrail opens it will increase London’s rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

On the 4th June, Crossrail started its shortest tunnel drive from Limmo Peninsula, beside Canning Town station, towards Victoria Dock Portal in east London.

Tunnelling machine Jessica, named after British Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE, will create the 900m tunnel forming part of the south-east spur of London’s new rail line. The tunnel begins from a 35m deep access shaft alongside the mouth of the River Lea, and will run to Victoria Dock Portal, where the Crossrail tracks reach the surface at Custom House station. It is Jessica’s second tunnelling mission, having already completed a tunnel from Pudding Mill Lane, near Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to Stepney Green over the winter.

Jessica’s launch continues Crossrail’s good progress with over 80% of rail tunnels now complete. Later this year Jessica’s sister machine Ellie will create the second tunnel from Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock Portal. Crossrail is creating 42 kilometres of bored tunnels using eight tunnel boring machines, four of which have already retired after completing their journeys.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “The end is now in sight for Crossrail’s tunnelling marathon. We wish those operating Jessica a safe and speedy journey through to Victoria Dock. While this is our shortest tunnel drive, it still forms an important part of Crossrail’s south-east spur, which will bring tremendous benefits to Docklands and south east London.”

London’s population is set to grow from 8.4 million today to around 10 million by 2030. Government, the Mayor of London and Transport for London are investing in Crossrail and other transport infrastructure to support access to jobs, education, housing and to boost economic growth. It is estimated that Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs around the UK. In addition to Crossrail, 61,000 jobs are created around the country annually through TfL’s investment programme.

Crossrail is catalysing regeneration around London. Once construction is complete at the Limmo Peninsula site, the historic former home of the Thames Ironworks is to be developed into a high density residential development, contributing funds to the Crossrail funding envelope.

According to research from GVA, nearby Custom House Crossrail station has seen nine planning applications within a 1km radius between 2008-2013, comprising nearly 9,000 new homes, 340,000 square feet of office space and 45,000 square feet of retail space.

Crossrail aims for at least 95% of its excavated material to be beneficially reused. This includes transporting materials by river barge to Wallasea Island in Essex where it will help form a new nature reserve, established in partnership with RSPB. The concrete segments lining the tunnel are manufactured in Chatham, Kent and also transported to Limmo Peninsula by river barge.

When Crossrail opens in 2018, it will increase London’s rail-based transport network capacity by 10 per cent and cut journey times across the city, bringing an extra 1.5m people to within 45 minutes of central London.

Pictured: TBM Jessica re-assembled at Limmo to start second tunnel drive

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