HS2 opens public vote to name two giant TBMs

Aaron Morby 2 years ago
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HS2 today opens a national public vote to pick the names of the first two giant tunnel boring machines to be used on phase one of the scheme.

In total 10 TBMs will be used to drive more than 35 miles of tunnel between London and the West Midlands.

The public is being invited to go to vote online from a shortlist of three chosen by local school children and inspired by female scientific and medical pioneers.

Proposed names


(l-r) Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie

  • Cecilia – named after 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 – named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who spent many years in Claydon, Buckinghamshire where she wrote numerous books on nursing. Suggested by students at Meadow High School in Hillingdon.
  • Marie – named after Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice. Suggested by students at Maple Cross JMI and Nursery in Hertfordshire.

These first TBMs will be operated by HS2’s main works contractor, Align JV – a joint venture formed of three companies: Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick.

They will spend 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.

The name with the most votes will be given to the first TBM, due to be launched from a site close to the M25 early next year.

The enormous, 2,000 tonne, 170m long machine will be one of two that will dig the 10 mile long Chiltern tunnels.

The second machine, due to be launched a month later, will be given the second most popular name in the public vote.

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston said: “The launch of our first TBM will be a defining moment in the history of HS2 – and our work to deliver high capacity, low carbon high speed rail travel for millions of people across the UK.

“I’d like to thank all the schools that took part in the first stage of the competition and the pupils who suggested the three shortlisted names – Cecilia, Florence and Marie. Now it’s over to the British public to decide which will grace the side of our first TBMs.”

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