Need a hole dug? Ask Sophia and Mary

In our February 2013 issue, we noted with some surprise that there was more than just one piece of infrastructure-related tunneling equipment that had been given a pet name.

We already knew that a piece of tunnel boring equipment for the Port of Miami Tunnel – a project involving Meridiam Infrastructure – had been christened ‘Harriet’. But then we discovered Harriet had a sister named ‘Phyliis’ being deployed on the Crossrail project in London.

We are now pleased to inform you that the third and fourth members of the family have been discovered. Contained within a press release from Crossrail and Berkeley Homes came news that a new ‘station box’ at Woolwich, south-east London, will act as a staging post for two, 1,000-tonne tunneling machines known as ‘Sophia’ and ‘Mary’.

The Crossrail project – planned to open in 2018 – will see the construction of a 118-kilometre rail line in south-east England linking Berkshire and Buckinghamshire via Greater London to Essex and Kent.  Sophia and Mary will be combining their heft to dig twin bore tunnels from Plumstead, underneath the River Thames, to North Woolwich.

The station box – which will eventually house the Woolwich Crossrail station – was itself the subject of some substantial digging. The press release notes that 140,000 tonnes of material were excavated in order to make room for the construction. However, we do not yet know the name (or names) of the tunneling equipment responsible.