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First HS2 tunnelling machines arrive

THE first two tunnelling machines for HS2 have arrived in Britain, and HS2 Ltd said they will start work in the New Year.

The 2,000 tonne machines – built in Germany and named Florence and Cecilia after women associated with Buckinghamshire – will now be reassembled, tested and commissioned. They have been specially designed to deal with the chalk and flints which they will encounter under the Chilterns.

Each TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) will be a self-contained underground factory, which as well as digging the tunnel will also line it with concrete segments as it moves forward, 15 metres a day. Each tunnel will need 56,000 segments – which will all be made on the site – while a crew of 17 people will operate each TBM, working in shifts.

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston described the forthcoming launch of the TBMs as ‘a defining moment in the history of HS2’.

The 16km twin-bore Chiltern tunnel will be the longest on the London-Birmingham section, and once they start boring the TBMs are destined to work around the clock for at least the next three years.

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