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Tunnelling Machine Ursula Half Way Through Her Journey

Ursula, one of six tunnel boring machines (TBMs) being used to dig London’s new super sewer, has completed half of her stretch of the main tunnel, passing Waterloo Bridge in the process. 

In March 2019, Ursula became the second giant tunnelling machine to be launched from a 45m deep shaft at Tideway’s Kirtling Street site in Battersea. Since then, the TBM has travelled 3.8km eastbound following a subterranean route below the River Thames. Her journey so far has seen her pass by famous landmarks including the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. 

The TBM has also journeyed beyond Tideway sites at Heathwall Pumping Station, Albert Embankment and Victoria Embankment. Upon arrival beneath the site at Blackfriars Bridge Foreshore, Ursula will undergo a 6–8 week pit stop to prepare for the final part of her drive to Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey.  

To date, Ursula has installed 2,115 concrete segment rings which are used as the primary lining for the tunnel. Each ring is made up of eight segments including a key stone, and weigh in excess of 30 tonnes.

Over half a million tonnes of excavated material has already been removed from this stretch of tunnel, all of which was removed from site by barge.

Millicent, the westbound TBM launched from Kirtling Street, completed her 5km journey to Tideway’s Carnwath Road site in Fulham late last year, becoming the first tunnelling machine on the project to complete her section of the main tunnel.