■ Chelsea Pensioners name high-tech Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Amanda
■ Amanda’s mission is to dig a tunnel under the River Thames to house a new gas pipe
■ Project will help ensure London remains one of the world’s leading cities
A Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will dig a tunnel under the River Thames has been named Amanda by the Chelsea Pensioners.
Cadent, Great Britain’s newest and largest gas distribution company will use the mighty machine to dig a tunnel under the River Thames. They invited the world famous veterans to name it, after striking up a relationship with the Royal Hospital while sinking a 30m tunnel shaft in the hospital grounds earlier this year.
The pensioners chose to name the machine Amanda, after Royal Hospital Chelsea Infirmary Business Manager Amanda Lord, who has worked at the hospital since 2009.
Chelsea Pensioner Tom Mullaney said: “Amanda is a well-loved member of staff and does a lot to support us as Pensioners.
“I thought she would be delighted to be nominated by the Pensioner community as she is always in the background, never in the fore and deserves recognition.
He added: “One thing I do have to clarify is that she’s certainly not boring!”
Amanda commented: “It is an honour to work at the Royal Hospital and I’m absolutely thrilled to have been nominated to have the tunnel boring machine named after me.
“Initially I thought this was a joke being played on me by some of the Pensioners which I’d been playing along with so I dread to think what they’ve been saying about me!”
Project Manager Andrew Hejdner said: “We’ve had a great relationship with the Royal Hospital and its staff and residents and also with Battersea Park on the other side of the river.
“We thought inviting the Chelsea Pensioners to name the Tunnel Boring Machine would be a great way to show our appreciation of the local community’s patience and understanding while we carry out this important project.”
The tunnel forms a critical part of Cadent’s essential £1billion programme to replace ageing gas infrastructure in the capital to help ensure Londoners keep on enjoying safe and reliable gas supplies for cooking and heating.
To prepare for tunnelling Cadent sunk two 30m shafts, including the one in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the other in Battersea Park.
Tunnelling will start after TBM Amanda has been lowered into the shaft in the hospital grounds. She will be remotely controlled by an above ground operator and carve out a 330m long tunnel and tunnelling is expected to be completed in 2018 after which the new intermediate pressure gas pipe will be installed.
Getting the project underway has been a major administrative and logistical exercise. As part of the planning process Cadent has held discussions with 15 different organisations, securing 20 different permissions, working around other major projects such as Thames Tideway and ensuring local events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and arts fair Masterpiece were not affected by the project.
Mr Hejdner added: “Our project team have shown exemplary hard work and commitment to ensure everything is kept to schedule.
“The new pipe will play a vital part in helping to ensure our capital has first class infrastructure that will help ensure it remains one of the world’s leading cities.”
The project is being delivered by Cadent’s strategic partner tRIIO, which also includes contractors Mott MacDonald and Skanska. The tunnel is part of Cadent’s £1billion investment in replacing ageing gas mains across the capital.
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