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Wed August 10 2022

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Crossrail awards £1.25bn tunnelling contracts

10 Dec 10 The winners of four major tunnelling contracts have been announced by Crossrail, accounting for 18km of the 21km of twin-bore tunnellng under central London that the project involves.

The four contracts are together worth £1.25bn and are the first of 30 major contracts that will be awarded by Crossrail over the next 18 months.

The four contract awards are:

C300 – Western Running Tunnels (Royal Oak to Farringdon): JV of BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman, Kier Construction – value £500m when combined with contract 410

C305 – Eastern Running Tunnels (Limmo Peninsula to Farringdon; Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock; Stepney Green to Pudding Mill Lane): JV of Dragados, John Sisk & Son – value £500m.

C410 – Early Access Shafts and Sprayed Concrete Lining Works for Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations tunnels: JV of BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman, Kier Construction –value £500m when combined with contract 300.

C510 – Early Access Shafts and Sprayed Concrete Lining Works for Whitechapel and Liverpool Street stations tunnels: JV of Alpine BeMo Tunnelling, Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering, Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction – value £250m.

Contracts C300 and C410 are a combined award as the new delivery programme allows Crossrail to take advantage of cost-efficiencies in this particular tunnelling section.

The contract for Tunnel Drive H (Plumstead to North Woolwich) will be awarded in 2011.

Crossrail said that competition was so fierce that the bids received have made a major contribution to £1bn project savings.  

Tunnelling activity will begin in late 2011. In spring 2012 the first two tunnel boring machines will start their journey from Royal Oak towards Farringdon. This will be followed later in 2012 by the launch of two further tunnel boring machines in Docklands that will head towards Farringdon under central London. Further shorter tunnel drives will take place in the Royal Docks and east London.

Tunnelling teams will work around the clock to complete the tunnels for Europe’s largest infrastructure project with thousands of others employed to upgrade the existing rail network and build major new stations along the central section of the route.

To construct the 21km of twin-bore tunnel required for Crossrail, seven tunnel boring machines will be used and will undertake 10 individual tunnel drives and construct the 6m diameter tunnels. Each TBM will be up to 120m in length. Crossrail plans to track the progress of the TBMs on its website. 

The Western and Eastern running tunnels will have tunnel portals at Royal Oak, Pudding Mill Lane and Victoria Dock. The tunnel boring machines or TBMs will commence their eastbound journey under London from Royal Oak and westbound from the Royal Docks. Construction of the tunnel portal at Royal Oak is now underway.

Up to 14,000 people will be employed at the peak of construction of the railway between 2013 and 2015.

A total of 21 km of twin-bore tunnel is required to be constructed for Crossrail. The five tunnels to be constructed are:

  • Royal Oak to Farringdon west (Drive X) - length of drive approximately 6.2km
  • Limmo Peninsula in the Royal Docks to Farringdon east (Drive Y) - length of drive approximately 8.3km
  • Stepney Green to Pudding Mill Lane (Drive Z) - length of drive approximately 2.7km
  • Limmo Peninsula in the Royal Docks to Victoria Dock Portal (Drive G) - length of drive approximately 900m
  • Plumstead to North Woolwich (Drive H) - length of drive approximately 2.6km

All of this adds up to 42km of bored tunnels located below the busy streets of London.

As announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review, a more efficient construction timetable means that Crossrail’s central section will now be delivered in 2018 rather than 2017. It is expected that Crossrail services will commence on the central section by the end of 2018 followed by a phased introduction of services along the rest of the Crossrail route.

Crossrail chief executive Rob Holden said: “Crossrail has now reached a very significant milestone with the award of the main tunnel contracts. The value of the contracts, combined with the length of tunnel to be constructed, is on a scale not seen in the UK since the Jubilee Line Extension or the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

“Significant competition in the construction industry for Crossrail work has delivered highly competitive bids. Over £1bn in savings to Crossrail’s construction costs have been identified to-date in part due to a more efficient construction timetable and these contract awards will help secure these savings. Crossrail will award a further series of tunnel construction contracts in 2011 including the new Thames Tunnel between North Woolwich and Plumstead. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the companies and consortia who participated in these tunnel bids. They each committed a huge amount of resource and we look forward to working with the winners to further develop their ideas with ours to deliver Crossrail in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: “Today we take an important step forward in one of Europe's biggest infrastructure projects. These tunnels - stretching 13 miles under the city – will help boost rail capacity across London by 10% relieving overcrowding on other hard-pressed services. 

"Crossrail is a critical project for this country which has the potential to generate up to £50bn in wider economic benefits for UK GDP and allow the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. Coming fast on the heels of an announcement for around 600 new Crossrail carriages, today is a major milestone in a scheme that will transform journeys across the South East.”

Kulveer Ranger, Mayor of London’s transport advisor, said: "Today London is another step closer to making this all important railway a reality. With these contracts in place we can begin burrowing beneath the city's streets to forge the line which will make zipping from east to west even quicker and easier for Londoners, commuters and visitors."

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. 

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