Two tunnel boring machines – affectionately named Helen and Amy by local school children – will be burrowing their way under south London in March as part of the £1.2 billion northern line extension.
The extension, which has over doubled in cost since we reported on it back in 2014, will link the Charing Cross branch of the northern line with two new stations at Battersea and Nine Elms via 3.2km of underground tunnels.
The machines with the mammoth task of excavating 300,000 tonnes of earth each weigh in at a whopping 650 tonnes. The earth will be carted off to Essex farmland by barge rather than lorry, to reduce congestion and pesky pollution. Despite being built for going underground, the tunnels were named after two pioneering women of the sky, Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut, and Amy Johnson, an English aviator who was the first female to fly solo from Britain to the sandy shores of Australia.
The extension is expected to create 25,000 new jobs as well as 20,000 new homes to London's dwindling housing supply – although it's anyone's guess how affordable they'll be. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: 'Extending the line to Nine Elms and Battersea is going to be a real boost to south London, with the improved transport link helping to provide thousands of homes and jobs for Londoners'.