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Lee Tunnel TBM named by schoolboy

A Newham schoolboy has won a competition for local children to name the £635M Lee Tunnel TBM with his suggestion of “Busy Lizzie”, after alternative names including “Rotacular Poo Polisher” were rejected.

Thames Water chose 10-year-old Ryan Waters as the winner of a competition that was open to hundreds of Newham primary school children.

Waters said he had named the 120m long TBM after the Queen. “The boring tunnel machine is massive. Nothing can defeat it. It bores its way through the ground. It works hard. That is why it is called busy,” he said.

“One hundred years ago and fifty, the London sewers were built. Victoria was Queen. Today Elizabeth is Queen. Lizzie comes from Elizabeth. That’s why it’s called Lizzie.”

Other names suggested by children for the TBM included “Rotacular Poo Polisher”, “Thames Wato-Saurus”, “Kate Middleton”, “Janet Jackson”, and “Milly” after Abbey Mills.

Thames Water chief executive Martin Baggs said: “It is tradition that every tunnelling machine is given a female name for good luck.

“It was a tough decision, which we made by asking for a show of hands from our Lee Tunnel construction team. Ryan’s Busy Lizzie entry, which brought a smile to everyone’s faces, was the clear winner.”

Busy Lizzie will bore the 6.4km long Lee Tunnel as part of Thames Water’s London Tideway Improvements.

The TBM is currently being reassembled in sections at Beckton sewage treatment works after being gradually transported from Germany. The largest parts of the machine will arrive at the site at the end of July.

Tunnelling work is due to begin in January 2012 and is expected to finish in late 2013.  The machine is likely to progress at a rate of 17m a day.

The Lee Tunnel will help prevent 16M.t of sewage entering the River Lee each year from Abbey Mills pumping station − the capital’s largest combined sewer overflow (CSO).

The tunnel will transfer sewage for treatment at Beckton sewage works, which is being expanded by 60% to enable it to cope.

The accompanying Thames Tunnel is still at the consultation stage.

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