Ainscough Crane Hire has completed the lift of a multi-million pound tunnelling machine that will soon start a five kilometre journey under the Humber estuary.
“Mary”, the 510-tonne, 160 metre long tunnel boring-machine, will take a year to cross under the River Humber from Goxhill in North Lincolnshire to Paull in East Yorkshire at a cost of £100 million.
On its journey, it will cut a 3.65 metre diameter tunnel 35 metres below the river bed. Once the tunnel is finished, a new 42 inch diameter gas pipeline will replace the existing pipeline which is carried in a trench closer to the surface.
The Ainscough team used a LR1300 crawler crane to lift the tunnelling-machine from a barge into the ground to begin its work for the National Grid.
Igor Scalas Ainscough’s Project Engineer said: “This contract was one of my great challenges to date, from the engineering difficulties to the adverse weather conditions. I would like to praise all the team involved from Heavy Cranes, to the transport team, Immingham Depot and the team on site.
“Everybody did a fantastic job, it was a great team effort, the client is extremely happy with the way we safely delivered the project. I am looking forward to starting a new challenge and continuing the same standard and service we provided with Skanska/National Grid.”
The giant machine was built in Badem-Wurttemberg in Germany and was shipped via Holland to arrive at Immingham Docks. Large sections of the machine were then moved from Immingham Docks along the A160 and towards the A180 ready for assembly at Goxhill.
It has been named after Mary Fergusson, the first female fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The machine was officially blessed by Grimsby priest Father Andrew Cole and a statue of St Barbara, the patron saint of miners and tunnellers, was placed at the start of the proposed tunnel.
It is expected to take around a year before the machine comes out on dry land in the East Riding village.
National Grid has awarded the £100m contract to build the tunnel to a joint venture made up of Skanska, PORR Bau GmbH and A. Hak. The work by National Grid has had a positive impact on the Humber economy, with 250 contractors already on site.