The first Crossrail train tunnel has been completed, as the tunnelling machine Phyllis finished the Royal Oak to Farringdon tunnel in London. The tunnel construction marks the half-way mark in Crossrail’s 26 mile excavation marathon.
It has been 17 months since Phyllis commenced her 4.2 mile journey from Royal Oak in west London. In what Crossrail hails as “the most significant addition to London’s transport in a generation”, Phyllis and six other machines have collectively passed the 13 mile mark in their mission to build major new underground train tunnels in the UK capital.
Currently in the Holborn area, Phyllis’ sister machine, Ada, is due to complete tunnelling during the winter. Six other machines will finish their routes in 2014. Phyllis will be dismantled over the coming weeks, and her 130 metre long trailer system removed from the tunnel via the recently completed Fisher Street shaft.
Crossrail Programme Director Andy Mitchell said: “Crossrail’s construction continues to move ahead at a significant pace. Crossrail has not only completed the first Crossrail tunnel under London but has reached the half-way point for our tunnelling machines with a phenomenal 13 miles of train tunnels constructed to-date. A further six tunnelling machines are currently hard at work constructing over 100 metres of new tunnel each day with major tunnelling due to complete next year.”
The final concrete rings for the western tunnels at Old Oak Common will be cast at Crossrail’s temporary concrete segment factory this week. The rings are erected by the tunnelling machines as they excavate the earth and advance forwards.
More than 1,000 people are working on Crossrail’s western tunnel section, building new train tunnels between Royal Oak at Farringdon, and new passenger, platform and service tunnels for Crossrail stations at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon. A further 9,000 people are working across the project.
Following its opening in 2018, it is estimated that upwards of 200 million passengers will travel on Crossrail each year. The system promises to transform train travel across London and the south east, boosting London’s rail capacity by 10%, delivering faster journey times and bringing an additional 1.5 million people closer to the capital’s business centres.