The two new tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will build the new Northern line extension tunnels, have now successfully passed the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT)
Built by NFM Technologies in Le Creusot in central France, the two TBMs, weighing 650 tonnes each, will now be dismantled and transported to Battersea Station to be launched early next year. They will then be reassembled on site ready to start powering their way under south London Once each TBM starts their 2.5km journey, each will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week for around six months, stopping only for scheduled maintenance.
Each TBM is over 100m long with a cutting head of 6m in diameter. As they advance forward, undertaking two individual drives to construct the tunnels, nearly 20,000 pre-cast concrete tunnel lining segments will be erected in rings.
Luis Rallo, Deputy Director, NLE, said:
"The hard work deployed by the Ferrovial Agroman Laing O'Rourke JV working in collaboration with our client, London Underground, and NFM Technologies to deliver this important milestone is paying off. The project has enabled the two TBM drives to begin early next year. My congratulations go to everyone involved.
The tunnelling will see over 300,000 tonnes of material excavated, which will be passed along conveyors and directly loaded on to barges to make the journey along the Thames to Goshems Farm in East Tilbury, Essex. Here, it will be used to create arable farmland. It is estimated that transporting by river will remove over 40,000 lorry journeys from the Capital’s busy roads, reducing risks for cyclists and pedestrians and also significantly reducing the site’s carbon footprint.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said:
"The construction of these mammoth machines is the clearest indicator yet that we are about to deliver the first major extension of the Tube in nearly 30 years. By extending the Northern line we are improving access to the Tube for thousands of south Londoners as well as triggering the creation of vital new homes and jobs."
Nick Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, said:
"This is the first glimpse of the powerful machines that will help build the Northern line extension and bring Battersea and surrounding areas to within 15 minutes of the West End and City."
The project, which is being funded entirely through the private sector, will see the Northern line extended from Kennington Station to Battersea via Nine Elms, creating two new stations: one at the heart of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and another at Nine Elms to the east of Battersea at the central point of the drive. The extension will serve new developments such as the US Embassy and the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market, as well as existing communities, enabling the regeneration of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea area.