Crossrail tunnelling ‘mole’ being assembled ready to start digging

Work has started today on assembling Crossrail’s newest 1,000-tonne tunnel boring machine in east London.

Components for the 450ft-long machine are being transported from Tilbury Docks to a worksite on the banks of a loop in the River Lea near Blackwall, to be reassembled over the next four months and lowered in sections down two vertical 150ft-deep shafts.

The huge machine, once fully assembled below ground, will then begin boring out the first of Crossrail’s two east London twin tunnels between Docklands and the City.

It is one of two giant boring machines, named Elizabeth and Victoria, which start tunnelling a five-mile route next winter deep under Canary Wharf, Whitechapel and Liverpool Street to Farringdon.

Another two machines burrow under west London once they are fully assembled.

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Together, the four giant ‘moles’ will carve out more than a-million tonnes of subterranean soil under London, which is to be used to create Europe’s largest man-made tidal nature reserve at Wallasea Island in the Thames estuary.

The �14 billion Crossrail ‘super tube’ opens in 2018 with a direct link from Whitechapel and Canary Wharf to the City, West End and Heathrow Airport.

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