HS2 has launched the first of 10 tunnelling machines that will dig 64 miles of tunnels in phase one of the project.
The 170 metre-long Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), named Florence, will operate 24 hours a day for the next three years to dig a 10-mile tunnel under the Chiltern Hills. The work will be managed by the Align joint venture comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick, which is responsible for the C1 package of phase one civils works worth around £1.6bn.
The machine has been designed specifically to tunnel through the mix of chalk and flints under the Chilterns. Florence, and an identical TBM called Cecilia, will dig one tunnel each to cater for north and southbound rail. The TBMs are expected to dig and line the tunnels with precast concrete sections at a rate of 15 metres per day.
HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston said: “The launch of our first tunnelling machine is a major moment of progress for the HS2 project as we work to deliver a high-speed railway that will offer low-carbon alternatives for long-distance journeys across the UK.”
Earlier this week, a Mace/Dragados JV secured the latest major contract on HS2 as it landed the £570m deal to deliver Curzon Street station in Birmingham.

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HS2 reaches ‘major’ milestone as tunnelling begins – David Price – 2021-05-13 12:59:00

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