Crossrail is beginning to move after the longest tunnel drive of the project got underway with the 1,000 tonne Elizabeth machine taking on the job.
The tunnelling development will travel 8.3 kilometres to create a link between the Docklands and central London which will form one of the most prominent parts of the new network. Both Elizabeth and sister tunnelling machine Victoria were lowered into place 40 metres underground into a shaft at Limmo Peninsula near to Canning Town station last month. Elizabeth has now begun its journey to connect the Docklands to Farringdon and representing a major milestone in the construction of this transport infrastructure.
Crossrail is designed to provide commuters with an alternative of using the London Underground system to travel across the capital. It is also seen to be relieving the pressure on the Tube network which can become overly congested during rush hours and giving people an extra rail option that they can use on their daily travel to work. Elizabeth is responsible for forming the longest tunnel section of the entire network while Victoria will be used in the coming months to create the eastern tunnels.
Stephen Hammond, Crossrail minister said: "The start of tunnelling in east London marks another major milestone in the construction of Crossrail. It yet again shows the engineering expertise involved in delivering this huge infrastructure project for the capital, set to boost the economy and generate thousands of new jobs."
Once the initial section is complete both Elizabeth and Victoria will be taken in for maintenance before continuing to Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and their final destination of Farringdon. Officials behind the plans have earmarked late 2014 for a completion date and will mean that Crossrail is on track to be fully operational for 2018 when all the components have been delivered.
The Crossrail network will provide a high frequency and high capacity service that will create a link between Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east taking in 37 stations along the route.
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