Crossrail – Europe’s Biggest Civil Engineering Project

Posted April 6, 2012 in Sonas News

Crossrail, a project to build a major new railway link under central London, is Europe’s largest civil engineering construction project. Estimated to cost £15.9 Billion (yes, billion) up to 14,000 people will be needed by the project’s supply chain at the peak of construction (2013-15). Crossrail will provide London with a high‐frequency, high‐capacity and accessible link between Heathrow Airport, the West End, the City of London and Canary Wharf. Rail projects really don’t get much bigger than this one.

Work on the route itself began on 15 May 2009 when piling works started at the future Canary Wharf station with the first trains are now planned to run on the central section in 2018.

London is forecast to continue to grow, in terms of both population and employment. The latest draft London Plan, published in July 2011, expects that by 2031 nearly 1.3 million additional people and 750,000 new jobs will be in the capital. There is projected 35 per cent growth in the public transport requirement for the city. Over 35 per cent of the future employment growth in London is expected to be located in areas to be well served by Crossrail services – the West End, the City and Canary Wharf.

The Crossrail programme will require 14,000 employees at the height of the works and the industry as a whole needs to recruit 45,000 people by 2014 if major projects are to be completed on time.
According to the ECITB, due to a current skills shortfall, demand for people with the relevant Construction and Engineering skills is expected to rise by between 5% and 15% a year over the next few years so there are real opportunities for long and rewarding careers for a lot of people.

In the second quarter of 2012, the first two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will start out on their journey from Royal Oak towards the west of Farringdon station.
This will be followed later in the year by the launch of two further tunnel boring machines in Docklands that will head under central London towards the east of Farringdon. Further shorter tunnel drives will take place in the Royal Docks and east London.

Latest News
The first of eight 1,000 tonne tunnel boring machines that will construct the new the 6.2m diameter Crossrail tunnels has just been unveiled. And it is big. Really big.

One of the 140m Long Tunnel Boring Machines

The 140 metre long, fully assembled tunnel boring machine (TBM) is currently undergoing factory testing. The machine will shortly be dismantled and shipped to London where it will be re-assembled at Westbourne Park ahead of tunnelling commencing from Royal Oak in March.

Facts and Figures

  • For those of you that love those facts and figures, here is a small fix:
  • A total of 21kms of twin-bore tunnels are required to be constructed to deliver Crossrail. This adds up to 42km of bored tunnels located below the busy streets of London.
  • The tunnels will weave their way between existing underground lines, sewers, utility tunnels and building foundations from station to station at depths of up to 40m.
  • The projected cost of the project is £15.9 billion
  • London’s total carbon emissions will be reduced by over 1,300 tonnes per annum as a result of modal shift
  • Crossrail involves the construction of 118 kilometres of track and building or modifying 37 stations