Light at the end of the tunneling
- Light at the end of the tunneling: National Grid completes digging after going underground to create London’s new 32km electricity superhighway
- Tunneling complete on National Grid’s flagship London Power Tunnels project
- Work to install electricity cables well underway with first section due to go live later this year
- £1billion project will help ensure London has the power it needs to maintain its status as a leading global city
After four years of digging beneath the bustling streets of London, tunneling has now been completed on National Grid’s flagship London Power Tunnels project.
The final breakthrough occurred at Kensal Green and marks the end of an era for the project team who first began sinking the tunnel shafts in 2011.
It’s been a truly epic undertaking that has seen engineers working around the clock to carve out a 32km network of tunnels using two giant sized TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines) named Evelyn and Cleopatra.
Working at depths typically ranging from 20 to 60 metres underground engineers have had to negotiate the challenges of tunneling beneath the Thames and working around London’s existing labyrinth of tunnels, sewers and citadels.
David Luetchford, National Grid’s Head of Cable Tunnels said: “This is a really exciting landmark and takes us one step closer to the completion of the project.
“It’s amazing to think that over the last four years our tunneling teams have been digging around the clock, with many Londoners unaware of what’s been happening beneath their feet.”
Since tunnelling began engineers have excavated enough material to fill the Emirates stadium. This has been put to good use with much of the London Clay excavated being used to remediate former National Grid gasworks across the capital, so the land can be freed up for exciting redevelopment opportunities.
Installation of the high voltage electricity cables which will transport energy supplies across London is already well underway and the first section due to go live this year.
The tunnels will plug London into new sources of energy which will help ensure future demand can be met. Currently accounting for 20 per cent of the country’s energy use demand in the capital is growing at a rate of around 5 per cent a year.
Mr Luetchford said: “This project will create a new energy superhighway deep beneath the capital which will help ensure Londoners continue to have the energy they need at their fingertips.
“When we switch on London Power Tunnels it will play a vital role in maintaining the capital’s status as a leading global city – it’s very exciting to be a part of that story.”
The project is due to be complete and fully operational in 2018. For more information go to www.londonpowertunnels.co.uk