Contractors World

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Contractors World UK & Ireland
2012 Vol 2 No 2
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CrossRailCrossrail activities - page 3 of 4



The Connaught Tunnel comprises tunnel and cuts that need to be strengthed and renovated.Sections of the existing tunnel are in a poor structural condition. In 1935, larger ships began scraping the bottom of the Royal Victoria Dock which sits above the Connaught Tunnel.

The Connaught Tunnel comprises tunnel and cuts that need to be strengthened and renovated.

As part of work to deepen the dock, the central section of the tunnel was narrowed with brickwork removed and steel segments installed.

It was originally planned to strengthen the central section of the tunnel by removing the existing steel linings and back filling the entire section with concrete foam. These tunnels would then have been enlarged by boring through the concrete to create tunnels that are large enough for Crossrail trains to pass.

Crossrail will now place cofferdams in the Connaught Passage between the Victoria and Royal Albert Docks, pump out the water and create a dry construction site allowing workers to dig down to the tunnel to undertake the enlargement work through a ‘cut and cover’ approach. Refurbishment of the Connaught Tunnel is being undertaken by Vinci Construction UK Ltd.

The central section of the Connaught Tunnel is in a poor structural condition.   Linda Miller, Connaught Tunnel Project Manager said: “The central section of the Connaught Tunnel is in a poor structural condition.

"To ensure we can undertake the tunnel enlargement work as safely as possible we have now decided to drain a section of the Royal Docks and then dig down into the tunnel. This will be the first time the tunnel has been exposed from above ground since its construction in the 1870s.

"While we will be using modern techniques, we will be using a similar cut and cover approach that was used to build the original tunnel which saw the tunnel constructed first with the docks then built over the top.”

Refurbishment of the Connaught Tunnel includes major repairs to the 1km tunnel including widening of the 550 metres of twin tunnels at the centre, putting in new tracks, waterproofing, installing new water pumps and cleaning the 130 years of coal and soot from the bricks.

During World War II, more than 40,000 explosive devices were dropped on London with the docks and rail lines particularly targeted due to their crucial role in delivering supplies to the BritishSearch for unexploded bombs continues

During World War II, more than 40,000 explosive devices were dropped on London with the docks and rail lines particularly targeted due to their crucial role in delivering supplies to the British war effort.

Connaugh Tunnel was hit by a bomb in 1940. Crossrail will be undertaking further repair work to the damaged section of the tunnel.

Ahead of major works on the Connaught Tunnel commencing next year, Crossrail is undertaking an extensive search of the wider construction area to identify any remaining undiscovered devices that failed to detonate on landing during World War II. The geology of the Royal Docks area meant that some devices that didn’t explode on landing sunk into the first few metres of soil.

A team of highly trained specialists are currently using armoured vehicles with magnetic equipment to investigate the ground around Connaught Tunnel. Their work involves sending probes into the ground in three metre intervals and analysing the results.

Crossrail already has a detailed understanding from existing London-wide maps and ground surveys about where potential devices could exist.

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