John Zammit
 Crossrail’s rail tunnels are now 83% complete

·  Europe’s largest construction project remains on time and within budget

Crossrail’s tunnel boring machine Jessica has completed a new train tunnel from Limmo Peninsula, near Canning Town, breaking into Victoria Dock Portal in east London.

The 1,000 tonne machine, named after Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE, completed her 900 metre journey in just 9 weeks, travelling as far as 41 metres per day. The machine will now be dismantled, with parts returned to manufacturer Herrenknecht for use on other tunnelling projects.

Jessica is 150 metres long and 7.1 metres in diameter and was staffed by teams of 20 people. Tunnel segments were made in Chatham, Kent and transported to Limmo by river barge. It is Jessica’s second Crossrail tunnel drive, having already created one of the two tunnels forming the spur from Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford to Stepney Green.

Jessica’s sister tunnelling machine, Ellie, will start the remaining twin tunnel from Limmo to Victoria Dock in the coming weeks. Crossrail’s rail tunnels are 83% complete, with TBM tunnelling due to complete early next year.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said:
“We continue to make good progress on Crossrail’s tunnels. The end is now in sight on Crossrail’s tunneling marathon, but there is much more to do in the form of installing railway systems and fitting out the stations.”

Joint Venture Dragados Sisk is constructing the eastern tunnels between Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green, Limmo Peninsula and Farringdon, and Victoria Dock Portal and Limmo.

It is estimated that Crossrail will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs around the UK. When Crossrail opens it will increase London’s rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.