UK: Crossrail Ltd confirmed on August 25 that notices have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union inviting expressions of interest for the project’s two principal tunnelling contracts - Package C300 for Tunnels West and Package C305 for Tunnels East - involving the construction of 18 km of twin-bore tunnel.

The publication of these OJEU notices marks the start of the procurement process for a total of 21 km of new twin-bore tunnels to be constructed by Crossrail in central London. Invitations to tender are due to be issued around November with contracts awarded by mid-2010. The deadline for receipt of expressions of interest is September 28.

Package C300 Tunnels West covers twin 6·2 m diameter bored tunnels from the Royal Oak Portal, west of Paddington, through to the new Crossrail station at Farringdon. The length of the drive is about 6·2 km.

Package C305 Tunnels East comprises the construction of three separate tunnels: from Limmo Peninsular to Farringdon station (8·3 km); from Stepney Green to Pudding Mill Lane Portal (2·7 km); and from Limmo Peninsular to Victoria Dock Portal (0·9 km).

Upon award, the successful contractors will also commence design and construction of a tunnel segment manufacturing facility at a site to be designated by CRL. This will ensure that a sufficient supply of tunnel segments will be available when tunnelling starts.

Rob Holden, Crossrail’s Chief Executive confirmed that the ‘tunnelling contracts are crucial to the completion of Crossrail and will enable 12-carriage trains to travel under central London from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Main construction for Crossrail will begin next year with the first of the tunnel boring machines launching in late 2011.’