Two 650-tonne tunnel boring machines arrive in Nine Elms

Published: Friday 20th January 17

Council leader Ravi Govindia was in Nine Elms today to inspect two recently delivered tunnelling boring machines which will soon start digging the Northern Line Extension.

L-R Mike Wild, Managing Director of London Underground; Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor; Ravi Govindia

Tunnelling begins in March this year and the Tube extension is expected to open for business in 2020.

According to tunnelling tradition, the machines cannot start work until given a name and, following a vote by local school children, the machines are being named Helen and Amy in honour of the first British astronaut, Helen Sharman, and British aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, who was the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia.

Cllr Govindia said: “This Tube extension is already transforming the fortunes of north Battersea and it’s a great pleasure to see these two colossal machines are here and ready to start work. The Nine Elms regeneration programme is one of the greatest sources of new jobs and homes in the country and this would not be possible without the Tube link.

“Wandsworth worked long and hard to shape the unique funding package behind this project, which includes contributions from private development sites like Battersea Power Station combined with business rates revenue from the area’s commercial growth. It’s an innovative model which could help unlock other regeneration projects in the future.”

The Northern Line Extension helped to kick start the regeneration of Nine Elms and Vauxhall which is on course to create around 25,000 new jobs and more than 20,000 new homes. Construction is also boosting the UK economy, supporting around 1,000 jobs, including around 50 apprenticeships.

As well as two new tunnels, two new stations are being created: one at the heart of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and another at Nine Elms to the east, serving new developments such as the US Embassy and the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market, as well as existing communities. 

The machines will tunnel at depths of 26 metres for six months, excavating more than 300,000 tonnes of earth. This will then be passed along conveyors before being loaded on to barges and taken to Goshems Farm in East Tilbury, Essex, where it will be used to create arable farmland. This will remove more than 40,000 lorry journeys from the Capital’s roads, reducing congestion.

 View comments on this article

Comments on this news item have been closed.

If you wish to complain about a comment, contact us at

Recent comments

Who'd have thought 3 bores weigh that much.
Paul Martin

25 January 2017

This is all very good news. Congratulations to yourselves on this matter. I happen to agree with all calls for the tube to be extended towards Clapham Junction if it is at all possible.
Kieron Botting

24 January 2017
tratamento disfunção erétil bh

22 January 2017

As usual, the boring machines are manufactured by the Germans.
j karna

21 January 2017

Wandsworth is in desperate need of better transport infrastructure. The developments in the Point Pleasant area along the Thames and now the new development at the Ram Brewery has created a surge in early morning traffic at Wandsworth Town Station. Extending the Northern Line to Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Town should be a no brainer.
Donovan Jones

21 January 2017

Definitely agree to extend the tube to york road, clapham junction & Wandsworth Town
David Hesketh

21 January 2017

Serving the US Embassy ?? Have they paid their congestion charge bill yet from their Embassy in Mayfair ??
Liz D

21 January 2017

All that planning for only 2 stations ? Another station at the old Homebase store in York Road, one at Battersea Heliport in Lombard Road and one on West Hill would be useful to residents.
Liz D

20 January 2017

Surely it would be cost effective for these machines to keep going to create a logical connection with Clapham Junction ahead of the arrival of CrossRail2? I would guess that tunnelling under Battersea Park would be relatively cheap.

20 January 2017