Massive London Tunneling Project Passes 11 Percent Mark

Crossrail Ltd has dug 3 miles of tunnels so far with five tunneling machines working night and day to complete Europe’s biggest construction project.

Crossrail Ltd released new photos last week of its tunneling work beneath London, England, a 26-mile project that is Europe's biggest current construction project. Five tunneling machines are in operation and two more will be added later this year. Three miles of tunnels have been created thus far; when the full route opens in 2018, it will boost the extensive London rail network capacity by 10 percent and significantly cut travel times to cross the city, according to the company.

Stuart Buss filed a report on the Crossrail website about its progress to date. Work is going on around the clock with the machines, named Phyllis, Ada, Elizabeth, Victoria, and Sophia. Phyllis has installed more than 1,500 tunnel rings between Royal Oak and Park Lane, at the edge of Hyde Park, Buss reported. Sprayed concrete lining is being extensively used, including in an East London shaft about 100 feet deep that is being built so the two eastern tunneling machines can pass through it later this year, according to his report.

"With 26 miles of new tunnels to be built for Crossrail, we are delivering our own London marathon beneath the streets of the capital. This is a huge and complex task with work underway 24 hours a day below London's streets but our first few miles of tunnel are now completed," said Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail’s CEO. "These new underground images show the scale of transformation taking place beneath London and the essential new transport links being created with every meter of new tunnel built."

Crossrail was established in 2001 to develop the route. It was a 50/50 joint venture between Transport for London and the Department for Transport until December 2008, when it became a fully owned subsidiary of TfL. The company's 2012 sustainability report indicated more than 92 percent of demolition and construction waste is being reused, more than 98 percent of excavated material is being recycled, and Crossrail's rolling stock will include regenerative braking and lower energy usage.

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