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Elizabeth, London Crossrail.

Photo: John Jammit. A section of Elizabeth entering the shaft.

Corbusier, I am reliably informed by a friend who knows about such things, thought of architects as peevish, whilst he apparently regarded engineers as virile and manly. I never really understood why, but there might be a clue in these images.

However politically incorrect Corbusier's opinions might sound today, on seeing these images of “Elizabeth”, one of the eight tunnelling machines for the London Crossrail project, the thought must at least be entertained that he had a point.

The scale of the operation is impressive. The tunnelling machine weighs 550 tonne and it is being delicately lowered into a 40m deep shaft using a crane capable of lifting 1,350 tonne.

Elizabeth will start tunnelling next year from Limmo Peninsula, adjacent to Canning Town station, and will head towards Canary Wharf station. A sister machine “Victoria” will cut the adjacent tunnel travelling slightly behind. The two machines will dig the longest tunnel sections on Crossrail at 8.3 km.

At Canary Wharf, the machines will enter the “station box” where they will be repaired and generally fixed-up ready to head out towards Whitechapel, Liverpool Street and Farringdon.

Above ground operation.

Photo: Brendan Bell.

Ready to be lowered.

Photo: Brendan Bell.

Detail of the machine section.

Photo: Brendan Bell.

On the cusp of the shaft.

Photo:Frank Jenkins.

Entering the shaft from ground level.

Photo:Frank Jenkins.

View from within the shaft.

Photo:Frank Jenkins.

Photo: John Jammit.

Looking down.

Photo: John Jammit.

Landed safely.

Photo: John Jammit.


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