HS2 hits historic milestone as first TBM launches

Aaron Morby 3 years ago
Share

HS2 consortium Align today launches the project’s first tunnel boring machine to start its drive under the Chilterns.

TBM Florence readied to start the tunnelling phase of HS2
TBM Florence readied to start the tunnelling phase of HS2

The 2,000-tonne machine known as Florence is the first of 10 that will dig 64 miles of tunnels between London and the West Midlands.

Named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, the TBM will dig the first of a pair of 10-mile long tunnels under the Chiltern hills and help to safeguard the woodland and wildlife habitats above ground.

A second machine ‘Cecilia’, named after pioneering astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, will launch next month to excavate the second tunnel at the South Portal site.

HS2 Chief Executive Mark Thurston said: “The launch of our first tunnelling machine is a major moment of progress for the HS2 project as we work to deliver a high-speed railway that will offer low-carbon alternatives for long distance journeys across the UK.

“With more than 16,000 jobs already supported by the project and thousands of companies big and small benefiting from contracts, HS2 is providing a major boost to the economy in these difficult times.

“The start of tunnelling is a moment of genuine excitement for everyone involved, and I hope the entire country will get behind this truly transformative project.”

More than 16,000 jobs and over 500 apprenticeships are already being supported by the project.

TBMs


A crew of 17 people will operate each TBM, working in shifts to keep the machines running 24/7. They will be supported by over 100 people on the surface, managing the logistics and maintaining the smooth progress of the tunnelling operation.

Designed specifically for the mix of chalk and flints under the Chilterns, the two identical TBMs will dig separate tunnels for north and southbound trains.

Each machine will travel at a speed of around 15 meters a day, digging and installing 56,000 precision engineered, fibre-reinforced segments, all being made on site.

The two TBMs will launch more than a month apart, but geological data fed back from Florence is expected to allow Cecilia to run slightly faster, meaning that they both break through at about the same time.

Chalk excavated from the tunnels will be used for landscaping at the south portal site once construction is complete, creating wildlife-rich chalk grassland habitats across 127 hectares of the southern Chiltern hills.

Align Project Director, Daniel Altier, said: “The TBMs include a number of innovations to improve efficiency and the safety of the environment in which the crew will be working, that have never before been introduced on any previous TBMs, worldwide.

Align is recruiting 1,200 personnel in total, including 100 apprentices, to work on the Central 1 Area of HS2 Phase One that it is delivering.

Align is targeting recruitment and investment in upskilling local people who are currently unemployed, with a particular focus on women, the under 25s and those with disabilities.

Latest news

Contract race starts for next £155m section of A9 dualling

Prior Information Notice published for Tay Crossing to Ballinluig stretch
13 hours ago

£55m Sheffield build-to-rent scheme approved

Demolition to start later this year for 158-flat Sheffield Garden project
12 hours ago

London back as most expensive place to build in world

Capital leapfrogs Geneva to top costliest construction rankings
18 hours ago

Gas supplier Regent to buy TClarke for £90m

£491m turnover listed building services specialist to be sold
20 hours ago

Steel contractor Billington launches into bridge market

Steelwork firm hires staff from failed architectural and bridge specialist SH Structures
20 hours ago

McGee employees benefit from rise in profits

Pre-tax profit doubles boosting payouts for Employee Ownership Trust
20 hours ago

Lendlease veteran is latest new McAlpine director

Paul Sims joins as Operations Director after 40 years at rival contractor
2 days ago

Costain signs site labour supply deal with four firms

Contractor to use only a quartet of providers for temporary labour supply
21 hours ago

BAM go-ahead for Leeds 200,000 sq ft office

Latitude Yellow will complete final plot at Doncaster Monk Bridge site
2 days ago

VolkerFitzpatrick wins £30m logistics job

Latest deal to build five distribution units for Prologis UK
2 days ago

Trio win new Scape utilities consultancy framework

Perfect Circle, AtkinsRéalis and Arcadis win places on
21 hours ago

Precast firm FP McCann cleared after immigration raid

Home Office takes no action after public raid on construction site
2 days ago

Wates-owned SES restructure delivers record profit and revenue

Building services contractor revenue soars to almost £300m
2 days ago

25 groundworks firms win £100m Places for People deal

M&J Evans, Carmac and Churngold Construction feature in housing association's line-up
2 days ago

Energy efficiency firms angry at lack of CITB support

SME contractors funding bid "does not meet the current criteria for supporting productivity or EDI"
2 days ago

£400m South Cambridge science park approved

Outline approval allows former sewage treatment works to be demolished
2 days ago

McLaren gets green light for 45-storey Leeds tower

Landmark Wellington Square scheme will see 464 flats built with 360,000 sq ft of offices
5 days ago

Heavy rain causes 1.9% construction output fall

Hopes remain undampened of a resi-led recovery this summer
5 days ago

Taziker restruture to return to profitability after £1.2m loss

Founders bought the business back from private equity after last year's loss
5 days ago

£220m London wharf homes scheme approved

285 homes to be built beside protected Albert and Swedish Wharves in Wandsworth
5 days ago

Major project veteran named civils director for Sizewell C

David Speight previously worked on Hinkley, Heathrow and HS2 client teams
5 days ago

Morgan Sindall lands £19m Milton Keynes hospital job

Crane lifts to be carefully co-ordinated to ensure air ambulance remains active
5 days ago

Clancy bolsters civils leadership team

Daniel Tonkin and Simon Hyams join as operation directors of water and infrastructure
6 days ago

Balfour names new project boss for HS2’s super-hub station

Steve O’Sullivan replaces Nigel Russell who was promoted to CEO of Balfour's HS2 ops
6 days ago

Buckingham Group supply chain hit doubles to £256m

Total owed to unsecured creditors soars as surety providers finalise claims
6 days ago

Builders demand an end to police plant bans

Call to suspend all embargoes on moving mobile cranes and large site kit
6 days ago

Green light for £65m Blackpool multiversity campus

Education campus of 350,000 sq ft will be delivered in phases
6 days ago

Vinci signs £138m Sheffield steel forge expansion deal

Sheffield Forgemasters signs landmark contract after two years of pre-construction works
6 days ago

McAlpine hires HS2 programme boss to head defence arm

Armed forces logistics expert Mike Hickson takes role as MD of defence
7 days ago

£200m carbon capture plan for Deeside site

Energy from waste operator enfinium looking to invest in North Wales plant
6 days ago

Contractor services