Tunnel boring machine (TBM) Cleopatra has dug 13km of 32km London Power Tunnels route

Cleopatra removed by crane from tunnelling shaft in Hackney Project will create a new underground electric superhighway to help keep the lights on in the capital

National Grid’s flagship London Power Tunnels reached a major milestone as tunnelling machine Cleopatra completed her work on the project.

Not to be confused with the ancient Egyptian Queen, tunnel boring machine (TBM) Cleopatra has now been completely removed by engineers from the tunnel with the help of a 500 foot crane.

It took almost a month to remove the mighty machine from a National Grid tunnelling shaft site located in Hillstowe Street, Hackney.

Now she has been transported to a storage area in Rugby, where she will be refurbished by tunnelling contractors Costain for their use on other tunnelling projects.

David Luetchford, National Grid’s Head of Cable Tunnels, said “The removal of Cleopatra is a big milestone for National Grid, marking the completion of over two thirds of our 32km tunnel route.”

“Getting the machine out of the ground was a huge job, and I would like to say a big thank you to all the residents living on nearby Hillstowe Street for their co-operation as we moved some very large equipment off the site.”

He added: “London Power Tunnels is creating an electric superhighway deep below the capital which will help ensure Londoners remain connected to the safe and reliable power supplies which make life as we know it possible.”Tunnelling began in 2011 and now there is less than 6km of the tunnel left to dig. Remaining tunnelling work on the project is being done by another TBM named Evelyn which began work in early 2012. A third TBM Powering Paula dug smaller access tunnels as part of the project. All three machines were named by local schoolchildren in a series of competitions organised by National Grid.

Earlier this year work began to install the high voltage cables which will transport electricity through the tunnels once they are operational. The first section of tunnel is due to go live late next year with the project due to be fully complete and operational in 2018.

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