Historic Brixton breakthrough for London Ring Main

Posted: Thursday 24th September 2009

A year of crunching through the earth deep under London came to an end recently as the southern extension to the city's "M25 for water" was completed.

Thames Water's 50 mile-long London Ring Main, a huge circular water main built in the mid 1990s 45m below ground, is Britain's longest tunnel.

Work started last June on the 3.1 mile-long southern extension, running between Brixton and Honor Oak reservoirs, to boost the Ring Main's daily water transfer capacity by 200 million litres.

Following 12 months of hard graft, a tunnelling machine called 'Helen' today broke through into the Ring Main's existing shaft.

This follows the breakthrough of the northern extension in May, a 2.8-mile tunnel running from Stoke Newington in Hackney to the New River Head in Islington.

The two tunnels, costing a combined 95million, will enable an additional 500 million litres of water-a-day to be transferred, helping Thames Water keep up with growing demand in the capital.

Steve Shine, Thames Water's Chief Operating Officer said:

"While Londoners have been going about their business above ground, most will have been unaware that for the past year we've been grafting away many metres below ground to build two huge water tunnels to help boost our supply capacity for our fast-growing capital city.

"The Ring Main, which is basically the M25 for water, delivers 1,300 million litres of water around the capital each day. Both new tunnels, one to the north and one to the south of the River Thames, will boost this capacity by 500 million litres-a-day."

Both tunnels will now be lined with steel and concrete and connected into the Ring Main ready for service in March 2010.

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