Balfour Beatty VINCI team launches first HS2 Midlands Tunnel Boring Machine

HS2 CEO Mark Thurston pushed the button to start the tunnel boring machine on its one-mile journey at the end of last week.

Around 170 engineers have been working on the 2,000 tonne, 125m-long TBM during its construction and assembly.

The expert tunnelling team will now work around the clock in shifts to operate TBM Dorothy for around five months as it excavates the first bore of a one-mile tunnel under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.

This is due to be the first HS2 tunnel to be completed on the project, with the machine set to break through its first bore at the south portal in Spring 2022.

It will then be dismantled and taken back to the north portal to dig the second bore, which is due to be completed in early 2023.

The machine will remove a total of 250,000 cubic metres of mudstone and soil which will be transported to the on-site slurry treatment plant where the material is separated out before being reused on embankments and landscaping along the route.

Michael Dyke, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty VINCI said: As Dorothy, our cutting-edge tunnel boring machine, sets off on her one-mile journey, our work across the northern section of HS2 continues to progress at pace.

Over the next few months, well be building on our efforts to recruit the 7,000 people required across the Midlands to help us shape the UKs future infrastructure landscape; those who will see their work enjoyed for many years.

In total there will be 10 HS2 TBMs on Phase One, working to create 64 miles of tunnel between London and the West Midlands for Britains high speed rail project.