A tunnel boring machine (TBM) has become the first to break through to complete a section of tunnel for London’s new Thames Tideway super sewer.
The TBM, named after suffragist Charlotte Despard, is digging the 1.1km Frogmore Connection Tunnel from Wandsworth to Fulham.
The 500m southern section of the Frogmore Connection Tunnel, from Dormay Street to King George’s Park, is now complete.
Charlotte will now be lifted from the shaft, taken back to Dormay Street and placed back into the ground to tunnel 600 metres north to Fulham.
A joint venture comprised of Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall and BAM Nuttall is delivering the west section of the project.
Charlotte is a three-metre-wide machine and more than 70 metres long, while the Frogmore Connection Tunnel is being created at a depth of around 30 metres. The TBM has been refurbished and previously worked on a water ring-main project in north London.
The first section of the main tunnel is also close to completion, as tunnelling machine Millicent approaches Fulham after tunnelling almost 5km from Battersea. So far, 8km of the 25km Thames Tideway Tunnel has been built, with four tunnelling machines in the ground.
Once complete in 2024, the tunnel will help stop tens of millions of tonnes of raw sewage pouring into the river every year.
Sally Cox, project director, said: “This breakthrough, the first on the Tideway project, marks another key step toward a cleaner, healthier River Thames.
“Despite being the smallest TBM on the Tideway project, Charlotte is creating vital infrastructure that will benefit Londoners and their river for many years to come.
“Our tunnelling team has done a fantastic job getting this machine to King George’s Park and will now focus on completing the northern section of the Frogmore Connection Tunnel.”