Posted 8th December 2020 | 4 Comments

First HS2 tunnelling machines arrive

THE first two tunnelling machines for HS2 have arrived in Britain, and HS2 Ltd said they will start work in the New Year.

The 2,000 tonne machines – built in Germany and named Florence and Cecilia after women associated with Buckinghamshire – will now be reassembled, tested and commissioned. They have been specially designed to deal with the chalk and flints which they will encounter under the Chilterns.

Each TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) will be a self-contained underground factory, which as well as digging the tunnel will also line it with concrete segments as it moves forward, 15 metres a day. Each tunnel will need 56,000 segments – which will all be made on the site – while a crew of 17 people will operate each TBM, working in shifts.

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston described the forthcoming launch of the TBMs as ‘a defining moment in the history of HS2’.

The 16km twin-bore Chiltern tunnel will be the longest on the London-Birmingham section, and once they start boring the TBMs are destined to work around the clock for at least the next three years.

Reader Comments:

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  • david c smith, Bletchley

    It seems costs of tunneling in GB are , per mile, substantially higher than elsewhere , including Germany and France. Similarly, for general construction costs of LGV type infrastructure.

    Does this point to a particular problem with the route chosen ( through /under NW London , the Chilterns ,the Warwickshire stockbroker belt )? Is there also a more general problem specific to GB?

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    Still the protesters who don’t want HS2 to be built have lost the battle. Tough.

  • Michael Breslin, Liverpool

    It is unfortunate that it is necessary to acquire tunnel boring machines from Germany or, in other instances, France. Sadly, that is all down to the fact that UK engineering/manufacturing is currently at a rather low ebb.

  • Michael Turberville, Reading, UK

    When they have completed their task of boring HS2 tunnels, do not ship them back... move them to the next location for rolling tunnelling works. It is how Beijing builds it's Metro. The TBMs are functionally able to bore 1000s of km with a bit of on unit maintenance - changing the cutting heads.
    Cross rail were not suitable as they were just over 50cm too small of a diameter.
    FYI, by the time HS2 - the fast tracks to the mids and north actually open, it will suffer as severe of congestion as the current WCML. Build HS2 QUAD tracked to make it Future Proof for the next decade or so.