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Channel Tunnel Rail Link contractors have marked the start of work on the 7.5km tunnel between Stratford in east London and St Pancras with the positioning of a giant cutter head at the western end of the cut and cover Stratford station box. The Kawasaki cutter head comprises three 200t sections which were lifted into place by contractor NishimatsuCementation Skanska using a 1,500t capacity crane. It will form the front of a 120m long tunnel boring machine.

Assembly of a second machine to work in a parallel bore is expected later this month.

Both will be capable of progressing through the ground at 1.5m/h when tunnelling gets into full swing.

NCE's special supplement on CTRL's progress will be published in September.

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