Work begins on new London Tube line

The new machines will be called Helen and Amy

Northern line extension in south London is due to open in three years

Construction work has begun on a new tube line that will connect Battersea to the rest of the Northern line network.

The two-station extension will run from the iconic power station on the south bank of the Thames via Nine Elms to connect with the existing line at Kennington.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the two machines that will bore two 3.2km tunnels would be named after Helen Sharman, the first British woman astronaut, and aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, who was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia.

The names were decided in a competition involving schoolchildren.

Mr Khan told the Evening Standard: “It’s great news that we are going to begin tunnelling for the Northern Line extension.

“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.

“I’m also delighted that local schoolchildren have chosen two such inspirational British women as the names for these tunnelling machines.”

The 650-tonne machines will drill around 30 metres each day and produce 300,000 tonnes of earth, which will be sent to Essex to create farmland.

The Northern line extension, which will see services run via Charing Cross and Camden Town, is scheduled to open in 2020.