By January 9, Crossrail tunnel boring machines had dug a total of 28km (171/2 miles), making almost two-thirds of the total tunnelling now complete.
This leaves just nine miles left to dig, which will be completed by the end of the year.
In readiness for a break over the Christmas period, TBMs constructed a record 166.4 metres of tunnel on December 11 - the highest daily figure of the project so far.
TBM1 Phyllis is the only TBM to have completed its drive so far, but it is expected that three more will finish in the next few weeks, with TBM2 Ada arriving at Farringdon, TBM5 Sophia at North Woolwich and TBM7 Jessica at Stepney Green.
It is also expected that TBM3 Elizabeth will arrive at Whitechapel in the next month. Elizabeth broke into Stepney Green Cavern, 40 metres below Stepney Green in London’s East End, on November 6 (RAIL 736).
Stepney Green, where TMB3 Victoria is due to arrive shortly, is the convergence point for the north and south sections of the route. Elizabeth and Victoria are the TBMs undertaking the longest journey (8.3km between Limmo Peninsula and Farringdon).
The last machine to commence tunnelling is TBM8 Ellie, which Crossrail expects to start from Pudding Mill Lane next month.
Meanwhile, campaigners have stepped up calls for full step-free access at all Crossrail stations.
Seven stations - Manor Park, Maryland and Seven Kings in East London, and Hanwell, Taplow, Iver and Langley stations in West London - are not currently planned to have any sort of step-free access.
Rail Minister Robert Goodwill confirmed that both Transport for London and the DfT are “keen” to make Crossrail entirely step-free, but said: “Delivering this will depend on cost, technical feasibility and identifying sources of suitable funding.”
Goodwill added that work is underway to look at technical solutions, and promised that a solution would be “much clearer by spring 2014”.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has also confirmed that he wants “all” stations to be step-free, although he has not stated when he intends for this to happen.
Prior to a meeting in Parliament on the subject of accessible transport on January 9, Transport for All activists took their case to the Department for Transport - where they presented officials with a tray of home-baked biscuits, iced with the accessibility and Crossrail logos - before going on to meet Transport Select Committee Chairman Louise Ellman.
Disabled Redbridge resident Nicole Benjamin said: “Without a station lift, travelling into London can be a painful and exhausting experience. I feel angry that although Crossrail is coming to Redbridge, Seven Kings station has been planned without step-free access.”
Transport for All Campaigns Co-ordinator Lianna Etkind said: “Making Crossrail step-free would cost just 0.2% of the entire Crossrail budget. That’s not an expense, that’s a rounding error.”
As a result of campaigning last year, the DfT and TfL (as joint sponsors of Crossrail) agreed to undertake a feasibility study into making all stations step-free. The results are expected to be made public by the summer.
- This news article was originally published in RAIL 740 on 22 January 2014