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Contractors World  - UK & Ireland
2013 Vol 3 No 4
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Major Works Carried Out To Victorian Rail Tunnel - Page 2 of 2



Hitachi Zaxis excavators remove material from the bottom of drained pit behind the caisson in the London Royal Dock.

   The curved arch of the Victorian Tunnel is visible in the top left.

  Many years ago, the curved top of the tunnel had been replaced by steel plate to enable larger ships to enter the docks.

  Work will now continue to open up a hole that will eventually measure approximately 20 metres long and 10 metres wide to allow for the engineering equivalent of ‘open heart surgery’ to strengthen, deepen and widen the

central section of the tunnel so that it can accommodate Crossrail’s trains.

Sections of the tunnel are in a poor condition and parts of it were narrowed during the 1930s so that the dock above could be deepened to accommodate larger ships with brickwork removed and steel segments installed.



The hole in the crown of the tunnel will allow Crossrail to remove much of this material and to continue with the process of ensuring that the tunnel is safe and ready for the arrival of the new trains.

Over the last few months, a cofferdam measuring 1300 m² has been put in place to allow a section of the Royal Victoria Dock to be drained so that Crossrail workers can access the tunnel from above. During the draining of the dock, a total of 332 fish were removed and safely relocated on either side of the cofferdam.

The tunnel , built in 1878, is the only existing tunnel that will be re-used for Crossrail.

Linda Miller, Connaught Tunnel Project Manager said: “The Connaught Tunnel is testament to the engineering skill of the Victorians, but after 135 years there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to get it ready for Crossrail . Now we’ve opened the top of the tunnel we’ll start the engineering equivalent of open heart surgery - widening and deepening the structure so that it can accommodate up to twelve trains an hour in each direction.”

As well as widening and deepening the central section of the tunnel, the work at the site will include laying new tracks, waterproofing, installing water pumps and cleaning the 135 years of accumulated coal dust and soot from the bricks.

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