Latest Rail News

26.05.20

HS2: Tunnel Boring Machines first images revealed

HS2 have today (May 26) revealed the first images of their two Tunnel Boring Machines set to begin working on the project later this year.

The TBMs are 170m in length, nearly 5 times the length of a football pitch, each one weights roughly 2000 tonnes, the equivalent of 340 African bush elephants and once they begin operating, they will run non-stop for 3.5 years only stopping for Christmas and Bank Holidays until the tunnels are complete.

The machines have also been named after three famous women from history.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the Astronomer and Astrophysicist born in Buckinghamshire who became Chair of Astronomy at Harvard University in the United States. Suggested by students at Chalfont Community College in Buckinghamshire.

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who spent many years in Claydon, Buckinghamshire where she wrote numerous books on nursing. Nominated by students at Meadow High School in Hillingdon.

And Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice. Proposed by students at Maple Cross JMI and Nursery in Herefordshire.

The machines are being constructed by Herrenknecht in Germany. Their names are being chosen now so they can be added to the machines during their production, ready for when they leave the factory. 

Once completed, the first two machines will be disassembled before beginning their long journey to Britain. Once they have arrived on site, each TBM will be reassembled, ready for launch and to begin their life underground.

Together the TBMs will speed around three years digging what will be the longest and deepest tunnels on the project, stretching from just inside the M25, to South Heath in Buckinghamshire.

Mark Thurston, Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “The construction of HS2 is set to be an amazing opportunity to showcase global capability and innovation in the design and delivery of major infrastructure, and the Tunnel Boring Machines are one of the most fascinating aspects. Like mini cities, they will spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week boring under the Chilterns so that the homes and habitats above remain undisturbed.

“This is just one of many ways in which HS2 is delivering on its responsibilities to our neighbours and the natural environment and, when complete, the new railway will play a key role in reducing transport carbon emissions and improving air quality for the next generation.”

Image: HS2 Ltd 

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