A 120m long TBM named Busy Lizzie last night completed its journey from Germany to Beckton sewage works in east London to start work on the 6.4km Lee Tunnel sewer.
Last night the largest piece of the machine − the 8m diameter cutter head – arrived in four parts, in an overnight operation under police escort.
Since June, the machine has been transported by barge in sections via Germany’s River Rhine to Rotterdam before being shipped across the North Sea to Tilbury, on the Thames estuary in Essex, from where it was driven overnight via the A13 road to Beckton.
Ahead of the machine’s arrival, street signs and lamp posts were moved temporarily to enable the wide load to get past. It will be reassembled 80m below London, where it will start work in January 2012.
This month, hundreds of Newham primary school children rose to the challenge of coming up with a lucky name for the machine. Ryan Waters, 10, from Maryland Primary School, won with ‘Busy Lizzie’, inspired by Her Majesty The Queen.
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 17 metres a day.
In addition to the Lee Tunnel and proposed Thames Tunnel, Thames Water is also upgrading London’s five major sewage works so they can treat more waste, preventing them becoming overloaded in rainfall, and improving the quality to which sewage is treated, to further improve river water quality.
MVB, made up of three of the country’s leading civil engineering contractors − Morgan Sindall, VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche − are working together to deliver the Lee Tunnel.
The £635M Lee Tunnel will help prevent 16M.t of sewage entering the river Thames annually during heavy rainfall.