Crossrail on June 3 started its shortest tunnel drive from Limmo Peninsula, beside Canning Town station, toward Victoria Dock Portal in east London. Tunneling machine Jessica, named after British Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE, will create the 900-m tunnel forming part of the southeast spur of London’s new rail line. The tunnel begins from a 35-m deep access shaft alongside the mouth of the River Lea, and will run to Victoria Dock Portal, where the Crossrail tracks reach the surface at Custom House station. It is Jessica’s second tunneling mission, having already completed a tunnel from Pudding Mill Lane, near Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to Stepney Green over the winter.
Jessica’s launch continues Crossrail’s good progress with over 80 percent of rail tunnels now complete. Later this year Jessica’s sister machine, Ellie, will create the second tunnel from Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock Portal. Crossrail is creating 42 km of bored tunnels using eight tunnel boring machines, four of which have already retired after completing their journeys.
Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “The end is now in sight for Crossrail’s tunneling marathon. We wish those operating Jessica a safe and speedy journey through to Victoria Dock. While this is our shortest tunnel drive, it still forms an important part of Crossrail’s southeast spur, which will bring tremendous benefits to Docklands and south east London.”
London’s population is set to grow from 8.4 million today to around 10 million by 2030. Government, the Mayor of London and Transport for London are investing in Crossrail and other transport infrastructure to support access to jobs, education, housing and to boost economic growth. 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 United Kingdom.
Crossrail aims for at least 95 percent of its excavated material to be beneficially reused. This includes transporting materials by river barge to Wallasea Island in Essex where it will help form a new nature reserve, established in partnership with RSPB. The concrete segments lining the tunnel are manufactured in Chatham, Kent and also transported to Limmo Peninsula by river barge.
When Crossrail opens in 2018, it will increase London’s rail-based transport network capacity by 10 percent and cut journey times across the city, bringing an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London.