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Tue June 22 2021

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Ready, steady, go for Olympian TBMs

19 Aug 13 A tunnel boring machine (TBM) named after Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill has begun building a 2.7km Crossrail tunnel from Pudding Mill Lane, near the Olympic Park, to Stepney Green.

Crossrail’s 1,000t seventh TBM will be followed by sister machine Ellie, named after Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, to build a second tunnel. The names for Crossrail's final two TBMs were suggested by Marion Richardson Primary School in Stepney.

Transport minister Stephen Hammond said: "The launch of the last pair of tunnel boring machines in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium marks another significant milestone in the Crossrail project, as we approach the halfway stage in our tunnelling marathon." About 18km of tunnels have been completed for the scheme, which will connect east and west London and 37 stations from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Crossrail programme director Andy Mitchell said: "We're delighted that our final two tunnelling machines, which start their race at Stratford, have been named after two Olympic heroines and will deliver their own tunnelling marathon under London. The Olympics legacy has transformed Stratford and east London, and Crossrail too will transform the way Londoners travel, and support regneration across the capital."

Once Jessica has completed her tunnel drive from Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney, she will then be partially dismantled and taken to the Limmo shaft at Canning Town to construct the final two Crossrail tunnels between Limmo and Victoria Dock Portal. This is the shortest of the Crossrail tunnels, with each measuring 900m.

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