OMG! TfL just unveiled these super-powerful tunnel boring machines that will build the Northern Line extension

And you thought your job was boring…

As long as I’ve lived in south London there’s been a rumour that the reason the Tube doesn’t extend very far south of the river is because the settlements are built on impermeable rock.

And in fact, that was true, back when the original tunnels were made. However, scissors beats rock as far as modern tunnelling technology goes, as the super-powerful boring machines that are set to build the Northern Line extension have been revealed.

Boring machines

The two 650 tonne tunnel boring machines have been finished and will start building the 3.2km tunnel from Kennington to Battersea in early 2017.

The 100 metre long machines were built by NFM Technologies in Le Creusot in central France and each have a 6-metre diameter cutting head in order to create two 5.2-metre diameter tunnels.

Once they arrive in the UK, they will be rebuilt over three months and named by local schoolchildren.

Boring machines

The tunnelling will see 300,000 tonnes of earth displaced as the machines run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over six months.

Boring machines

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The construction of these mammoth machines is the clearest indicator yet that we are about to deliver the first major extension of the Tube in nearly 30 years. By extending the Northern Line we are improving access to the Tube for thousands of south Londoners as well as triggering the creation of vital new homes and jobs.”

Boring machines

Nick Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: “This is the first glimpse of the powerful machines that will help build the Northern Line Extension and bring Battersea and surrounding areas to within 15 minutes of the West End and City. The TBMs will make their way to London later this year and in early 2017 will start powering their way under south London to create the first major Tube extension since the Jubilee line in the late 1990s. Their manufacture is a significant step forward in the project which, once complete, will help us to support jobs, homes and growth in this area and keep pace with London’s rapidly rising population.”

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