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Tunnelling contract awarded for Northern Line extension

The contract to design and build two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) for London Underground’s Northern Line extension has been awarded to NFM Technologies.

The TBMs are expected to be launched in summer 2016 by Ferrovial Agroman Laing O'Rourke Joint Venture (FLO), which LU has contracted to design and build the Northern line extension, when the machines will begin their seven month 2.5km journey from Battersea to Kennington.

Each TBM ‘cutting head’, which will do the excavation work, will be just over six metres in diameter and the full machine itself will be 106 metres long – equivalent to the length of the pitch at Wembley Stadium.

Two new stations will be constructed – one in 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 Northern Line extension is expected to help transform the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea areas into a major new commercial and residential district with tens of thousands of new jobs and homes. Other transport investments in the area include the transformation of the Vauxhall gyratory, the creation of new dedicated cycle routes through the area, and the upgrading of Vauxhall Tube station to include step free access.

Mike Brown MVO, MD of London Underground, said: “The award of this contract is a key milestone in the extension of the Northern Line. We are well on track for the tunnelling work to commence next year and, once it's complete, this vital addition to the Underground network will help develop the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea areas, supporting 24,000 new jobs and over 18,000 new homes. Customers in Battersea and Nine Elms will also benefit from quicker journey times, with the West End and the City being just under 15 minutes away.”

The cost of the Northern line extension is expected to be up to £1bn, which is being funded entirely through contributions from the developments in the area that will benefit from the extension. The plan got the formal go ahead in November 2014.

During construction the project will support around 1,000 jobs and around 50 apprenticeships spread across the country.

As part of its commitment to build the extension in the most environmentally friendly way possible, LU plans to transport at least 70% of the waste from the TBM work by river. This will minimise the number of lorries on the road in connection with the extension.

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