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Saturday, 11 February 2012


Some of the major physical manifestations of Crossrail are now very visible.

Last week I was able to go and see the first of the Tunnel Boring Machines which is currently being (re-)assembled at the Royal Oak portal. You can easily see it from  the Great Western Main Line and it is on the site of the old Westbourne Park Bus Garage Base.

Constructed by Harrenknecht AG these eight machines are the 'Rolls Royce' of TBMs. At £10m each they weigh 1000 tonnes. They are a moving factory, digging their way through the earth at the front and pressing into place the tunnel segments at the rear. Next month this machine will be pushed into place and the drive to Farringdon (Drive X) will start. Behind it a second machine will be delivered from Tilbury Docks to start work on the second tunnel.

In time further machines will start from near Canning Town in the opposite direction towards Farringdon (Drive Y), and two more from Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green. Lastly two TBMs will dig from Plumstead to North Woolwich.

The scale of the machine can be seen from the photo - the external diameter is 7.1m - and that's me on the right.

Across at Paddington this weekend the taxicab road on the west side of the station has been closed for the last time. This area forms part of the Crossrail station. The associated side entrances to the station are also closed at this time as is Eastbourne Terrace. Originally it was envisaged that this road would remain open in a limited way but it was discovered that this would double the length of time needed so a two year complete closure has been agreed. All bus routes have ben diverted.

A new drop off and pick up area has been fashioned on the east side of the station. and this photo shows it in the last stages of construction earlier this week. Access is from the Bishops Bridge - it was build ready to accept the new connecting road. The centre of gravity of the station thus moves very much towards the Grand Union canal.

Later this year further changes at Paddington will be made to deal with the significant numbers of Olympic Games family members arriving and departing on the Heathrow Express.


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