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Crossrail’s first slurry tunnelling machine starts work

Construction of the first of two Crossrail tunnels below the Thames got underway yesterday with the launch of the first of the project’s slurry tunnel boring machines (TBMs).

The 110m long Herrenknecht TBM – named Sophia – was launched from the Plumstead Portal in Kent and is expected to progress at an average rate of 100m a week to North Woolwich.

The Thames section of Crossrail is the only part being excavated through the Chalk, which is why slurry TBMs were selected for this part of the scheme in place of the earth pressure balance TBMS being used elsewhere. The soils excavated by Sophia will be pumped out as a liquid slurry to treatment plant at Plumstead.

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