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Crossrail tunnelling complete as Victoria breaks through at Farringdon

Tunnel boring machine Victoria broke through at Farringdon on 3 June to complete the 42km of tunnelling work on the £14.8bn Crossrail project in London.

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the achievement as “an incredible feat of engineering that will help to improve the lives of working people in London and beyond.”

And London Mayor Boris Johnson used the underground celebration to call for a quick start on Crossrail 2.

Attention now switches to fitting out the tunnels and stations to create an operational railway.

“The challenge now shifts to the complicated and substantial task of fitting out the tunnels and stations to enable Crossrail services to operate.” Andrew Wolstenholme

Crossrail will add 10% capacity to London’s rail network. It will serve 40 stations, connecting Reading and Heathrow in the west with Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. TfL-run Crossrail services through central London will commence in December 2018. An estimated 200 million passengers will travel on Crossrail each year.

Crossrail tunnelling began in the summer of 2012. Eight 1,000 tonne tunnelling machines have been used to bore the new 6.2m diameter rail tunnels.

 “This is a landmark moment for London that puts us a gigantic step closer to the launch of an absolutely vital new railway, which will hugely improve our ability to speedily move people across our city,” Johnson said. “It is a wonderful example of our nation’s talent for engineering, a talent that must not be allowed to founder and that I hope will eventually be put to use on the construction of Crossrail 2.”

His views were echoed by London’s transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy. “The end of tunnelling marks an impressive milestone in construction. When Crossrail fully opens it will provide much needed new transport links and capacity, helping to support London’s continued economic growth and meet the demands of our rapidly growing population. It is vital that we maintain such investment to meet the challenges of the future.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, said: “This is a major milestone in the most ambitious rail project this country has seen for decades. The Crossrail project showcases British engineering at its best, and I congratulate everyone involved in this impressive achievement.”

Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan thanked the workforce for a job well done. “Crossrail is the most significant addition to London’s transport network in a generation and one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK. The completion of Crossrail tunnelling is a truly significant milestone and would not have been possible without the support and commitment of London, our contractors and everyone who works on Crossrail.”

And Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme underlined that efforts are now focused on the railway’s completion. “Over the last three years, our highly skilled team have worked tirelessly to build these major new tunnels under one of the world’s busiest cities. The challenge now shifts to the complicated and substantial task of fitting out the tunnels and stations to enable Crossrail services to operate.”

President of the Institution of Civil Engineers David Balmforth summed up the enthusiasm for the project. "It is fantastic to see Crossrail reach this significant milestone," he said. "The project really is a true feat of engineering - giant 1000t machines, each 150m long carving miles of twin tunnels under London with the aim of improving the well being of those in the capital, creating jobs and boosting the economy. To see this vision coming to life and showcasing our engineering capability is truly inspiring."

If you would like to contact Jackie Whitelaw about this, or any other story, please email jackie.whitelaw@infrastructure-intelligence.com.