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Milestone for Crossrail as TBMs named ahead of launch

London mayor Boris Johnson and transport secretary Justine Greening have marked the start of tunnelling on London’s Crossrail scheme at a tunnel boring machine naming ceremony.

Over the next three years, eight TBMs will construct a total of 21 km of twin-bore tunnel under the capital.

Yesterday Johnson and Greening christened the first 150m long TBM Phyllis - after Phyllis Pearsall who created the London A-Z – ahead it beginning its journey to the Royal Oak Portal in west London. From there, next week, it will start tunnelling 6.4km east to Farringdon via Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road.

Johnson and Greening also named sister TBM Ada, which will follow on slightly behind Phyllis and create the second bore to Farringdon.

“The sight today of these mighty tunnelling machines primed for action is a significant step forward in the construction of this vital infrastructure project,” said Johnson.

It’s exciting that we’ve reached this landmark for this world-class testament to our engineering excellence,” added Greening.

Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan said the start of tunnelling was a “hugely significant” and “symbolic” milestone.

Ready for the off

The first tunnel boring machine will now be placed on self-propelled mobile trailer and moved to Royal Oak Portal, around 400m from its current location at Westbourne Park. Once it reaches Royal Oak Portal, final testing will then take place ahead of tunnelling commencing.

Once the first machine has progressed sufficiently, the second tunnel boring machine will then be launched from Royal Oak. When the second tunnel boring machine 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, the 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.

The Bam Nuttall/Ferrovial/Kier (BFK) joint venture was awarded the £500M western tunnels contract to construct the tunnels between Royal Oak and Farringdon in December 2010.

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