Magazine article Geographical

London's New Underground: Chris Fitch Heads beneath the Surface to See How the Crossrail Project Is Adding to London's Historic Subterranean Transport Network

Magazine article Geographical

London's New Underground: Chris Fitch Heads beneath the Surface to See How the Crossrail Project Is Adding to London's Historic Subterranean Transport Network

Article excerpt

For the last few years, Mary and Sophia have been boring away beneath London, Named after the wives of Isambard and Marc Brunei, constructors of London's first Thames tunnel, the pair are 1,000-tonne, 150m-long bespoke boring machines tunnelling through the clay, sand and chalk which comprises the geological base of the capital. More than 15S years since the first trains--steam locomotives with rickety wooden carriages--started trundling along the Metropolitan Railway (the first line of what would eventually become the London Underground), the Crossrail line will open in 2018 with 42km of new running tunnels, stretching from Essex and East London, all the way across the city to Heathrow and Reading in the west.

Seven million tonnes of earth has been excavated from underneath an already crowded city, 98 per cent of which has been used to create new areas of agricultural land, nature reserves and recreational facilities in the south-east of the UK, including a new 1,500-acre RSPB nature reserve in Wallasea Island, Essex. …

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