Crossrail’s tunnel boring machine Jessica has completed a new train tunnel from Limmo Peninsula, near Canning Town, breaking into Victoria Dock Portal in east London.

The 1,000 tonne machine, named after Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE, completed her 900-metre journey in just 9 weeks, travelling as far as 41 metres per day.

The machine will now be dismantled, with parts returned to manufacturer Herrenknecht for use on other tunnelling projects.


Jessica is 150 metres long and 7.1 metres in diameter and was staffed by teams of 20 people. Tunnel segments were made in Chatham, Kent and transported to Limmo by river barge. It is Jessica’s second Crossrail tunnel drive, having already created one of the two tunnels forming the spur from Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford to Stepney Green.

Jessica’s sister tunnelling machine, Ellie, will start the remaining twin tunnel from Limmo to Victoria Dock in the coming weeks.

Crossrail’s rail tunnels are 83% complete, with TBM tunnelling due to complete early next year. The Elizabeth line, as it will be called, opens in late 2018.


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  1. Tom @Tired of London says:


  2. Chris says:

    Victoria and Elizabeth seem (according to the Crossrail website) to have been stuck somewhere in Whitechapel for about the last 6 months. Is there any actual issue that you’re aware of, or has the website just stopped being updated as often as it used to be?

  3. Jimmy says:

    @Chris: I think that was always the plan. When I visited the Whitechapel site in February they said the TBMs were waiting nearby for them to finish digging their shafts and would resume again in September. I’m guessing they built in a lot of leeway just in case.

  4. Chris says:

    @Jimmy: That’s really useful knowledge – thanks very much. I’m on secondment at my firm’s Tokyo office at the minute, and I thought I would miss Victoria and Elizabeth passing under our building at Spitalfields – but it sounds like I’ll be back in time.

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