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Contractors World  - UK & Ireland
2013 Vol 3 No 3
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Overview & Update - Page 2 of 5

Contractors World - Crossrail- Liebherr tunnelling excavators at Stepney Green shaft


Liebherr tunnelling excavators at Stepney Green shaft

More than 7,000 people are now employed on Europe’s largest infrastructure project working across more than 40 worksites.

The numbers working on the project will grow further. Over the course of the project, Crossrail will generate more than 75,000 opportunities for businesses, generating enough work to support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs.

Firms across the UK are already supplying Crossrail’s worksites with 57 per cent of UK supplies from London and the South East and 43 per cent from the rest of the UK. Small and medium sized businesses make up 58 per cent of suppliers.

More than 400 apprenticeships will be created through Crossrail’s contractors. The new Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in east London will train up to 3,500 people with the skills required to work below ground. The first trains will start running through the central section in 2018.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.


33 miles (54 km) of rail and station tunnels are being built on Crossrail. This includes 42 kilometres of rail tunnels built by large tunnelling machines and 12 kilometres of passenger, platform and service tunnels being mined by excavators at the new Crossrail stations.

Five of the eight tunnelling machines are now constructing the new rail tunnels under London. When completed each of the two tunnels will be 21 kilometres (13 miles) long.

Each tunnelling machine is a 1,000 tonne, 148 metres long underground factory. They are operated by ‘tunnel gangs’ comprising of about twenty people - twelve people on the TBM itself and eight people working between the rear of the machine and the tunnel entrance.

They are running nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, stopping for maintenance and certain holiday periods.

  • Contractors World - Crossrail - Construction of Crossrail’s Western tunnels.  Overseeing tunnel lining placement. Western Tunnels

Phyllis and Ada have reached the 5 kilometre (3.18 miles) mark with Phyllis approaching Bond Street station box and Ada under Hyde Park. Phyllis achieved a weekly distance record last week, building 136 rings (217 miles). The team also passed the “third point” – completing a third of the western tunnels.

Construction of Crossrail’s Western tunnels. Overseeing tunnel lining placement.

Phyllis was the first machine to begin tunnelling in May 2012, with Ada starting in August from the Royal Oak Portal. Both tunnelling machines have gone under the main lines into Paddington and the District and Circle lines, and both have passed through the walls to the new Crossrail Paddington station underneath Eastbourne Terrace (the walls are in place and excavation will start in May).

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