Posted 13th March 2012 | 5 Comments
Mayor reveals how Crossrail was almost axed
Boris Johnson and Justine Greening pressed a button to start tunnel machine 'Phyllis' rotating as a demonstration. Boring is to start this month.
THE TRANSPORT SECRETARY and Mayor of London have launched Crossrail tunnelling at a ceremony near Paddington today. The first two machines -- known as Ada and Phyllis -- will start work in the next few days, working their way eastwards from the portal at Royal Oak.
The German-built tunnel boring machines (or TBMs) weight 1,000 tonnes apiece and are 150 metres long.
A total of eight will be used to carve the bores for the 42km of 6.2m diameter tunnels needed for Crossrail. Two more machines will start from Docklands later this year, eventually meeting the Paddington pair at Farringdon, while others will be in use by the winter building the shorter tunnels in East London on the Shenfield and Abbey Wood routes.
Transport secretary Justine Greening said it was "exciting that we've reached this landmark".
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson added: "The sight of these mighty tunnelling machines primed for action is a significant step forward."
But he also revealed that the whole project, costing some £14.8 billion, had been in the balance after the May 2010 election, when the incoming Coalition Government had been seeking ways to reduce public spending.
The Mayor said: "I remember there was a period of appalling, nail-chewing suspense when the new government was trying to understand how to deal with the colossal mess they'd discovered the country was in, and one distinguished Cabinet Minister -- no names, no pack drill, I'll only say he wears Hush Puppies -- was heard to say that we'd save a lot of money by cancelling this project.
"I'm proud to say that I became one of the leading Crossrail bores, and we bored on, and made our case to Government."
Tunnelling will continue until 2014, and services are due to start in 2018.
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