One millionth tonne of earth removed from Crossrail's West London Tunnels

Local news

The one millionth tonne of earth to travel by rail has left Crossrail’s tunnel entrance in West London for Northfleet in Kent.

The 55 million year old earth has come from the construction of Crossrail’s western tunnels between Royal Oak and Farringdon by two giant 1,000 tonne tunnel boring machines.

Over the past 15 months, more than 860 train loads of excavated material have been transported to Kent by GB Railfreight. The material is then transferred to ship and transported to a new nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.

The earth will be used to create a new Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) wetland on Wallasea Island. A total of 4.5 million tonnes of excavated material from Crossrail’s new tunnels and stations will be used to create the UK’s most ambitious man-made coastal nature project.

Andy Alder, Crossrail’s Western Tunnels Project Manager said: “One million tonnes of excavated material has now been transported from Crossrail’s western tunnels by rail removing thousands of lorry journeys from London’s busy streets. Crossrail will not only deliver a new railway for London and the South East but will leave the legacy of a new nature reserve that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Crossrail will excavate about six million tonnes of material during the construction of stations and its 21km (13 miles) of twin-bore tunnels. Close to 100 per cent of the excavated material is expected to be clean, uncontaminated and reusable elsewhere.

The RSPB wetland will guarantee a place for tens of thousands of migratory birds and combat the threats from climate change and coastal flooding.


For further information contact: Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email

Notes to Editors:

Western tunnels contractor BFK (BAM / Ferrovial / Kier JV) appointed GB Railfreight in February 2012 to transport excavated material from Royal Oak to Northfleet. The first trainload of excavated material from Crossrail’s western tunnels departed for Northfleet on Friday 11 May 2012.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) will require 10 million tonnes of excavated material to create a new 1,500 acre nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex – the largest new wetland nature reserves in Europe for some 50 years.  Crossrail will provide close to 4.5 million tonnes of excavated material to the RSPB.

About Crossrail

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 38 stations and run over 100km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

When Crossrail opens it will increase London’s rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.


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