The final two of Crossrail’s eight tunnel boring machines have been named after Olympic and Paralympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill and Ellie Simmonds.

The names were suggested by students at Marion Richardson Primary School in Stepney.

Jessica started its race on Friday to build a 1.7 mile (2.7 km) tunnel to Stepney Green from Pudding Mill Lane, just a stone’s throw from where the track and field gold medallist won Gold.

She will be followed by sister machine Ellie, named after Paralympic gold medallist swimmer Ellie Simmonds, building a second tunnel.

Between them the pair, each weighing 1,000 tonne and costing £10million, will carve out 26 miles (42 km) of rail tunnels under London.

The six other machines have already reached the half way mark in the tunnelling marathon with 11 miles (18 km) of tunnels completed. The new tunnels will connect east and west London and 37 stations from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Crossrail Programme Director Andy Mitchell said: “The Olympics legacy has transformed Stratford and east London, and Crossrail too will transform the way Londoners travel and support regeneration across the capital.”

The naming of tunnel boring machines after women is a long-held tunnelling tradition and the names of Crossrail’s first six machines were each inspired by British heritage and history.

Ada and Phyllis were named after early computer scientist Ada Lovelace and Phyllis Pearsall, who created the London A-Z.

Elizabeth and Victoria were named after Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. Mary and Sophia were named after the wives of famous railway engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Marc Isambard Brunel.

Once Jessica has completed her tunnel drive to Stepney, she will be partially dismantled and taken to the Limmo shaft at Canning Town to construct the final two Crossrail tunnels between Limmo and Victoria Dock Portal.

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