Just a few days ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation her namesake, TBM Elizabeth arrived at Canary Wharf neatly underscoring the contribution the railway industry is making to a revitalised Britain.
The 1,000 tonne tunnel boring machine, Elizabeth, was the first to arrive at Canary Wharf after a five mile tunnelling trip from Canning Town. Together with twin machine, Victoria, Crossrail’s eastern tunnelling machines set off from the Limmo site at Canning Town last December. Over the past six months, both machines have been working 24 hours a day to excavate the first section of new tunnels beneath the River Lea and east London.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, admitted many had doubts the project would ever get going. ‘Many thought it would never happen, it seemed almost unimaginable. But now, with the arrival of this gigantic tunnelling machine in the heart of Canary Wharf, grubby with mud and rubble, we can be in no doubt it’s on its way.
‘This new railway is adding vital new capacity to our transport network and creating thousands of jobs all over the UK. It is the perfect example of how investment in London benefits the entire country.’
Tunnel Boring Machine Elizabeth will now undergo maintenance inside the Canary Wharf station box before resuming tunnelling towards central London. Sister machine Victoria is due to break through into the station in the next few weeks.
Western tunnelling machines Phyllis and Ada have now reached Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street respectively. In south-east London, tunnel boring machine Sophia has reached the Woolwich station box with sister machine Mary now underway from Plumstead.
Says Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme, ‘The Canary Wharf tunnelling breakthrough is our biggest milestone so far and a symbolic moment that shows the scale of the essential new transport links Crossrail is delivering.
‘We are making good progress in building world-class new stations and a marathon of tunnels beneath London with the entire Crossrail project now more than a third complete. We are on track to deliver Europe’s biggest construction project on time and on budget.’
Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, nearly eighteen months after she succeeded her father, King George VI.