HS2 tunnel boring machine breakthrough

HS2 makes ground-breaking stride forward

In a major leap forward for the HS2 project, the giant tunnel boring machine (TBM) known as ‘Florence’ has broken through under the Chilterns and completed a 10-mile mission nearly three years since its initial launch.

Florence was the first of 10 machines excavating 32 miles of tunnel for the new railway linking London Euston and Birmingham, launching in May 2021.

Each TBM has been designed specifically for the geology under the Chilterns and acts an underground factory, according to HS2.

While excavating the tunnel, the TBM also lines it with pre-cast concrete which it grouts into place with an average speed of 16 metres per day.

Huw Merriman comment

A crew of 17 people operate the TBMs, with over 100 more specialists working from the surface to manage the journey’s logistics.

Sir Jon Thompson, HS2 Ltd’s executive chairman thanked the hundreds of people who have helped make the progress happen.

He added: “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but historic moments like today really underline the huge amount of progress that’s been made and the fantastic engineering skills we have on the project.”

Rail leaders expect this leg of HS2 to nearly halve journey times between Britain’s two largest cities, as well as free up space on the existing line for more local trains.

“Today’s breakthrough of HS2’s longest tunnel highlights the momentum behind the project and the achievement is testament to the hard work and dedication of the 450-strong team helping deliver the line that will transform rail travel for generations to come,” said rail minister, Huw Merriman.

The progress comes just days after HS2 published research that suggests the arrival of high speed rail in the West Midlands will trigger a £10bn economic boost in the region.

Image credit: HS2 Ltd


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