HS2 releases first images of first two tunnel boring machines

Posted: 26 May 2020 | | No comments yet

The images follow the opening of a public vote to pick the names for the first two of 10 tunnel boring machines prior to manufacturing.

HS2 releases first images of first two tunnel boring machines

Credit: HS2 Ltd.

HS2 has revealed the first images of its first two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that are set to begin work on the high-speed project later in 2020.

The images follow the announcement that HS2 had launched a national public vote to pick the names for the TBMs from a shortlist of three that were chosen by local school children and inspired by female scientific and medical pioneers. Their names are being chosen now so they can be added to the machines during their manufacture, ready for when they emerge from the factory.  

After completion, the first two machines will be disassembled before beginning their journey to the UK. Once they have arrived on site, each TBM will be reassembled, ready for launch and to begin work. Together, the TBMs will spend approximately three years excavating what will be the longest and deepest tunnels on the project, stretching from just inside the M25, to South Heath in Buckinghamshire. 

Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, Mark Thurston, 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.”

Mark added: “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.”

Alongside the new pictures, a set of statistics about the giant machines have also been released:

  • The TBMs are 170m in length and each weighs roughly 2000 tonnes
  • Once started, they will operate non-stop for 3.5 years, only stopping for Christmas and Bank Holidays until the tunnels are complete
  • The tunnels will go as deep as 80m below the ground, ensuring that the communities and countryside above are not impacted by the railway
  • The size of the TBM cutterhead which will bore the tunnels is 10.26m
  • The internal diameter of the tunnels in which the trains will pass through will be 9.1m
  • The tunnels will be lined with concrete segments that will be 2m x 4m and weigh, on average, 8.5 tonnes each
  • 112,000 of these concrete segments will be required to complete both tunnels.