HS2: another week, another tunnel
HS2 Limited, the company building the high-speed railway between London and Birmingham, has launched the next phase of tunnelling on the enormous infrastructure project. The first of six tunnel boring machines that will dig over 26 miles (41.6 kilometres) of tunnels under London. HS2 Limited CEO, Mark Thurston, was joined by local teacher Sushila Hirani, after whom the first operational tunnel boring machine is named, as it begins on its five-mile (eight kilometres) journey from the West London site.
“Sushila” is the fourth of 10 HS2 tunnel boring machines to be launched. The milestone highlights the progress being made on building Britain’s new high-speed rail network, creating jobs and providing contracts for businesses now. Later this year, a second TBM, named after 18th-century astronomer Caroline Herschel, will also be launched from the West London site to build the second of HS2’s twin-bore tunnels towards central London.
Non-stop for 22 months
“This launch is a landmark moment in the delivery of HS2”, said Kevin Foster MP, the HS2 Minister and minister of state for rail at the Department for Transport.“Already well underway, HS2 is set to revolutionise journeys for communities throughout the country, boost local economies and, at its peak, support more than 34,000 jobs across the UK”, he said.
Each weighing over 2,000 tonnes and measuring 140 metres in length, both TBMs will bore five miles non-stop for 22 months, except Christmas Day and bank holidays, to Greenpark Way in Greenford, where they will be dismantled and lifted from the ground. Separately, two other equally massive tunnel boring machines will set off towards Greenpark Way from HS2’s Victoria Road site in 2023 to build a further 3.4mile (5.44 kilometres) twin-bore tunnel. Together the quartet of TBMs will build 8.4 miles (13.44 kilometres) of twin bored tunnels between West Ruislip and the new high-speed rail super hub station at Old Oak Common in west London.
2.46 million tonnes excavated
Each TBM is operated by 15 people working in shifts. A team of around 40 people assembled the TBMs, with 56 companies involved in getting the site ready and machines launched. In total, the 10 TBMs will create 64 miles (around 102 kilometres) of tunnels on HS2 between London and the West Midlands.
1.2 million cubic metres of excavated material will be removed, weighing 2.46 million tonnes . HS2 has already committed to rail freight for the vast majority of its heavy lifting. Another 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometres) twin-bore tunnel extending from Old Oak Common to Euston will complete HS2’s journey to its London terminus.
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