Stepney Green in the East End of London is where Crossrail tunnels from northeast and southeast London converge. It is now home to one of Europe’s largest underground caverns, 40m underground.
Joint venture Dragados Sisk is constructing the eastern tunnels between Limmo Peninsula and Farringdon, Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green and Victoria Dock Portal and Limmo.
Elizabeth, along with her sister machine Victoria, is completing the longest tunnel drive on the Crossrail project, from Limmo Peninsula near Canning Town to Farringdon, a distance of 8.3km (5.16 miles).
Since being launched last winter, both machines have been drilling round the clock, passing through the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station in the summer. Elizabeth will now undergo maintenance inside Stepney Green’s westbound cavern before resuming her journey towards Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and Farringdon. Yesterday’s breakthrough is the first of four that will take place at Stepney Green. Victoria is due to breakthrough into the site in the next few weeks.
The Stepney Green caverns are constructed with sprayed concrete lining. They are approximately 50m long, 17m wide and 15m high.
The whole £14.8bn Crossrail project involves the construction of 42km (26 miles) of 6.2m diameter tunnels under London and Docklands. More than 22km of tunnels, more than half of the total, are now complete.
Major tunnelling began in May 2012 and is expected to be complete by the end of next year. One of the tunnel boring machines, Phyllis, has already completed her journey on from Royal Oak in west London to Farringdon in the City.
Pictured below is the Stepney Green workforce watching Elizabeth break through.