Work begins boring first HS2 tunnel under Chiltern Hills
The first of 10 enormous tunnel boring machines (TBMs), started excavating the first few metres of a 10-mile tunnel under the Chiltern Hills, just inside the M25 motorway in Hertfordshire.
The first machine, named “Florence” after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, is working on the longest single tunnel on the route between the capital and the West Midlands. The excavation marks a key milestone for the railway, which is scheduled to start operating between 2029 and 2033.
Measuring 170 metres – the length over 15 London buses – and weighing more than 2,000 tonnes, the TBMs were designed specially for the project.
Florence, and a second, identical machine currently being assembled on the site near the M25, were shipped in thousands of parts from the factory of manufacturer Herrenknecht in south-western Germany.
The two TBMs will excavate tunnels for HS2’s north and southbound trains, digging under the M25 and up to 90 metres below the Chilterns, and lining the tunnel with concrete wall segments.
Segments for the tunnel walls and for the two-mile viaduct across the Colne Valley are being made on location at HS2’s largest single construction site, part of a GBP1.6bn contract to build just 15 miles of the 140-mile route between London and Birmingham.
“It is good for the economy,” said Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2, adding the project will employ 16,000 people. “I hope the country will get behind this national endeavour. There is some technology here which is at the leading edge globally”.
The TBMs excavating the chalk found under the Chilterns will operate round the clock for three years, advancing approximately 15 metres a day.
The extracted material is liquified and clanks as it travels along the machine and out of the tunnel.
Described as a moving factory, the TBMs are equipped with everything the 17 crew members might require during their 12-hour shift, including toilets, a canteen with a fridge and microwaves, and two refuge chambers, which would provide 24-hours of shelter from any emergency such as a fire.
“It is like a submarine,” said Didier Jacques, the tunnel construction director, who worked on the excavation of the Channel Tunnel three decades ago.
“It is a combination of high-tech innovation, safety for the people and a machine with all the new technology.”
The future of the eastern leg of HS2, from Birmingham to Leeds, remains uncertain, although Andrew Stephenson MP, transport minister with responsibility for HS2, said it would feature in the government’s promised “integrated rail plan”.
Stephenson acknowledged the high-speed railway “remains a controversial project”, however he said railways are needed to reach the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“We are using cutting-edge techniques to take carbon out of the production, but also this is an electric railway.
This is far better than having people in cars.”
- ^ HS2 (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ shipped in thousands of parts from the factory (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ in the tunnel under Euston (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ eastern leg of HS2 (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ “integrated rail plan” (www.theguardian.com)
- Skechers Girl’s On-the-go 600 Slip On Trainers
RRP PRICE: £52.00SALE PRICE: £39.64YOU SAVE: £12.36 Uppers: Textile Linings: Textile Outer Material: Synthetic Inner Material: Textile Sole: […]
- Hozelock 2412R3444 30m Compact Reel with 20m Hose
SALE PRICE: £30.00YOU SAVE: £8.22 Stores up to 30 m of 12.5 mm diameter loose hose Freestanding with a handle for easy movement around a garden […]