More than two thirds of the companies working on the construction of Crossrail’s western tunnel boring machines come from outside London, it was revealed today.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson and transport secretary Justine Greening turned on the first machine at an official unveiling of the first two 1,000 tonne machines.
The first TBM will be named Phyllis after Phyllis Pearsall who created the London A-Z. She walked 23,000 streets and a total of 3,000 miles to compile the map. The second TBM will be named Ada after Ada Lovelace who was one of the earliest computer scientists. She worked with Charles Babbage on his “analytical engine”, and is regarded as having written the first computer program.
Mr Johnson said: “This mammoth project has already delivered thousands of skilled jobs in London, and once complete will create significant extra capacity to help people travel around this great city, dramatically reducing journey times to support the economic resilience of our capital over decades to come.
“Crossrail is set to build upon the transport benefits Londoners are already seeing as a result of the Neo-Victorian level of investment that has flowed from the Olympics and the upgrades being delivered on the Tube. The sight today of these mighty tunnelling machines primed for action is a significant step forward in the construction of this vital infrastructure project.”
The machines are equivalent to 14 London buses end-to-end with enough force to lift more than 2,900 London taxis.
More than 50 UK companies are supplying materials and services for the construction of Crossrail’s western tunnels between Royal Oak and Farringdon.
Companies such as DAM Structures in East Yorkshire, Eaves Machining in Bolton and Servaccom Redhall in Hull are among those to work on its construction.
Yorkshire steel fabricator DAM Structures plans to increase its workforce from 45 to 65 people by the end of the year as a direct result of their work on Crossrail while Servacomm Redhall who produce prefabricated buildings have just taken on ten additional employees.
Around 4,000 contracting opportunities have yet to be advertised.
The TBMs will now move to the Royal Oak Portal in west London where they will start tunnelling 6.4 km east to Farringdon via Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road next week.
Over the next three years, eight tunnel boring machines will construct a total of 21 km of twin-bore tunnel under the capital. The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118 km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “The first tunnel boring machine will shortly get underway on its journey from Royal Oak to Farringdon via Paddington, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road and will arrive at Farringdon in autumn 2013.
“Further machines will be launched later in 2012 and beyond. The extent the tunnels to be built under London are on a scale not seen for many years. By late 2014, over 21km of twin-bore tunnel will have been constructed.”