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Northern Line extension tunnelling machines lifted below ground in readiness for launch

Category: General / 17 February 2017

The Ferrovial Agroman and Laing O’Rourke (FLO JV) team successfully overcame major technical challenges to deliver the lift safely and on time.

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Northern Line extension lowers TBM at Battersea site Helen and Amy the two massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will be used to build the major part of the tunnels for the Northern Line extension (NLE), are being lifted and lowered down below ground in readiness for their impending journey from Battersea to Kennington. 

On Sunday 12 February 2017, a brand new, 750 tonne crawler crane lifted Helen, who will bore the southbound tunnel, into the Battersea Power Station site crossover box. Amy charged with boring the northbound route, followed on Tuesday 14 February.

Derek Whelan, FLO TBM Project Manager, said, ‘Successfully lifting 600 tonnes of machinery is undoubtedly a major feat. This operation has been nine months in planning and seeing it come to fruition was very rewarding. It has been a great team effort and I am proud of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved.'

Lifting a 295 tonne, 6m diameter TBM is a highly technical process with many challenges. Prior to the lift, enabling works had to be completed safely and on time. Crane pad foundation construction, crossover box construction, TBM assembly, Sprayed Concrete Lining adit construction and TBM slide rail installation were just some of the works that have been carried out in preparation for the lift.

Jonathan Cooper, London Underground Project Manager, said, ‘The team have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to safety whilst working incredibly hard to ensure the date for the contract lift was met. This gives us the best chance of launching the TBMs on time. Well done all!'

35 lorry loads delivered the crane, manufactured by Liebherr, to the Battersea Power Station site. The first delivery arrived on Monday 6 February, upon which assembly began. A test lift took place on Sunday before the main lift.

Northern Line extension TBM positioned at Battersea siteThe TBMs were lowered into the basement of the crossover box one at a time and perpendicular to the direction they will be tunnelling in as a result of the constraints placed by the props running along the crossover box. Following this, each TBM was rotated 90 degrees to line up with the launch rails and jacked into the launch caverns.

Luis Rallo, NLE FLO Deputy Project Director, said, ‘Coordination of the two lifts including the pulling of the first TBM in a timely manner to make room for the second in the box, planning all safety and technical aspects of such a complex operation and the great team spirit displayed by all is proof of the commitment and professionalism of the FLO team working in close collaboration with London Underground. This successful operation is an important milestone for the project in readiness for the launch of Amy and Helen. A wonderful achievement.

The Ferrovial Agroman Laing O'Rourke joint venture is thrilled to reach this major milestone for the project.

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