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Done Digging: Mission Accomplished for Cleopatra as she Leaves Hackney, UK

National Grid’s flagship London Power Tunnels reached a major milestone as tunneling 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-ft crane.

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

Now she has been transported to a storage area in Rugby, where she will be refurbished by tunneling contractors Costain for their use on other tunneling 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 32-km 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 6 km of the tunnel left to dig. Remaining tunneling 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 organized 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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