Crossrail Completes First London High-Speed Train Tunnel

Crossrail, the U.K. government project to develop a high-speed rail network from the west to the east of London, has completed construction of the first of its new train tunnels under the city.

The 4.2 mile (6.8 km) passage from Royal Oak in west London to Farringdon in the city center is one of 10 that will collectively create 26 miles of tunnels under the city, Crossrail said in a statement.

“Construction continues to move ahead at a significant pace,” Crossrail Program Director Andy Mitchell said. “Crossrail has not only completed the first Crossrail tunnel under London but has reached the half-way point for our tunneling machines with a phenomenal 13 miles of tunnels constructed to-date.”

The estimated 15 billion-pound ($24 billion) project will cut commuting times by as much as half when completed in 2018. The rail line is expected to carry more than 200 million passengers a year and boost London’s rail capacity by 10 percent.

A second tunnel in central London’s Holborn area is due for completion this winter, and another six machines will finish digging next year, Crossrail said.

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