Tunnel boring machine named after British astronaut Helen Sharman (left to right ) Mark Wild, MD of

Tunnel boring machine named after British astronaut Helen Sharman (left to right ) Mark Wild, MD of London Underground; Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council; Val Shawcross, London deputy mayor

Two 6m diameter tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will be used to build the major part of the tunnels for the new Northern Line Extension (NLE) under South London have been unveiled by the Ferrovial Agroman/Laing O’Rourke (FLO) joint venture.

Following tunnelling tradition, the TBMs have been given female names. London deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, visited the Battersea Station NLE site for the unveiling and announced the TBMs’ names, Helen and Amy, decided as part of the project’s community engagement initiatives with local schools.

The TBMs, from NFM Technologies, are named in honour of the first British astronaut in space, Helen Sharman, and British aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia.

David Darcy, project director of the Northern Line Extension, said, “With our two TBMs now ceremonially named, in the tradition adopted across the tunnelling world, we will follow their progress in a personal way.

“Helen will bore the 2.6km southbound running tunnel to Kennington Park. Amy will bore the 2.4km northbound tunnel to Kennington Green.”

Mark Wild, managing director of London Underground, added, “This is a significant moment in the history of London Underground as we prepare to start tunnelling to create the first extension to our historic Tube network for nearly two decades.

"The Northern Line extension will bring Battersea and surrounding areas to within 15 minutes of the West End and City. It will also help us to support jobs, homes and growth in this part of south London, help keep pace with the capital’s rapidly rising population, and is creating jobs through the supply chain across the UK.”

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