April 28: Boring of a 1.8km-long tunnel underneath Heathrow Airport’s airfield has begun in the first phase of the world’s largest baggage system, linking all of the airport’s terminals, enabling 110 million bags to be handled annually by 2012.
The new £260 million tunnel will connect Terminals 3 and 5, eventually linking into the existing baggage tunnel network at a building to be constructed airside. The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) is boring at a rate of 15 metres a day, creating a 5.6 metre-wide tunnel fitted with 1,800 sections of prefabricated concrete panels, and is expected to finish in July.
This tunnel is at the heart of BAA’s £900m baggage improvement plans – work is already underway to replace Terminal 3’s baggage system and refurbish the systems in Terminal 1 and 4 with the latest technology. A new system will also be installed at Terminal 5C set to open in 2011. Bags will be transported using an automated system that will travel on rails at speeds of up to 800 metres a minute.