by Josephine Cordero Sapién
15 Mar 2022
The two HS2 tunnel boring machines excavating the tunnel through the Chilterns have completed the first stage of the tunnelling project, from the tunnel’s south portal to the first ventilation shaft at Chalfont St Peter.
Together, the two 2,000 ton TBMs, called Florence and Cecilia, have now dug more than 3.6 miles since they launched in summer 2021.
The ventilation shaft at Chalfont St Peter is the first of five along the 10-mile twin tunnels under the Chilterns. This particular ventilation shaft has a depth of 78m and will ultimately be topped by a headhouse in the style of local farm buildings.
The tunnel boring machines do not just excavate the tunnels, they are 170m self-contained underground factories that line the tunnel with concrete wall segments and grouting them into place as they progress.
Florence launched in May 2021, Cecilia in June 2021. They are expected to break through at the north portal in around 2.5 years. They are each staffed by a crew of 17 people working shifts and are supported by more than 100 people above ground. Both are operated by the JV Align.
“The Chiltern tunnel will take HS2 underneath the hills and safeguard the woodlands and wildlife habits above ground as well as significantly reducing disruption to communities during construction and operation of the new railway.
“It’s great to see how much progress has been made by Florence and Cecilia – and the teams excavating the five ventilation shafts – and I’d like to thank everyone involved in getting us this far.”
In total, the twin tunnels will require 56,000 precision-engineered, fibre-reinforced concrete wall segments. During this initial 3.6-mile phase, the two TBMs have installed more than 20,000 separate segments, with each one weighing roughly 8.5 tons.
HS2 will use a total of ten TBMs to create 64 miles of tunnel between London and the West Midlands. Three TBMs have been launched to date.
HS2 has commenced work on the thirty-eight cross passages that will link the northbound and southbound Chiltern tunnels.
Dorothy, HS2’s 2000-tonne tunnel boring machine, has made its first breakthrough on the UK's high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham.
HS2 Ltd has contracted Laing O’Rourke to build the HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull at the heart of the high-speed rail network.
The first design images have been revealed for HS2’s maintenance and control centre at the Washwood Heath Depot in Birmingham.
Transport companies have to have resilient cybersecurity systems in place so they can protect their assets and detect and respond to incidents.
Birmingham City Council has granted planning permission to HS2 Ltd to construct two viaducts in Birmingham.
HS2 has begun construction of the first of five ‘green tunnels’ that have been designed to blend into the landscape.
Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture is trialling an electric, high-capacity drilling rig for construction in Warwickshire.
HS2 has announced that OpenSpace Group Ltd is using artificial intelligence (AI) and LiDAR sensors to develop future train stations.
Construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct has now started, overseen by HS2’s main works contractor Align JV.
HS2 has reached an agreement to purchase Square One on Travis Street, Manchester from property provider Bruntwood.
Jonn Elledge looks at the story behind Andy Burnham's pointed comments about the exorbitant costs of rail fares in Britain.
HS2 has unveiled updated environmentally-friendly designs for the Cubbington, Warwickshire section of the new high speed line.
HS2 has unveiled the final designs for the Thame Valley Viaduct, which will cross the River Thame’s flood plain near Aylesbury.
HS2 has unveiled designs for Chiltern Tunnel’s north portal, which focus on cutting noise from trains as they enter and exit the tunnel.
A new report highlights the role of HS2 and high speed rail in general in reducing emissions and ultimately achieving net zero.
HS2 has shared updated designs for its high speed railway terminus station at London Euston, which will be set across three levels.
The Mace and Dragados joint venture (MD JV) – HS2’s construction partner for Euston station – is ramping up procurement this month.
A new piling technology, known as hollow impressed precast energy reusable pile (HIPER), is being trialled at HS2’s Euston station site.
HS2 has signed the Rail Supply Group’s Work Pipeline Visibility Charter and will share its rail systems' technical specifications publicly.
The ‘High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill’ – HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg – will be introduced in parliament today (24 January 2022).
HS2 has chosen TK Elevator to manufacture and install approximately 160 lifts and 130 escalators at its four main stations.
HS2 archaeologists have excavated a vast roman settlement in Northamptonshire - one of over 100 sites HS2 has examined since 2018.
HS2 has published its Net Zero Carbon Plan, which sets out how it plans to make the project net zero carbon from 2035.
HS2 has revealed the first images of its 1.5 mile-long Greatworth tunnel - one of three ‘green tunnels’ to be built in Bucks and Notts.
Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) has launched a recruitment drive to support HS2 construction works planned for 2022 and beyond.
Jonn Elledge gets into the Christmas spirit and does some finger-pointing as to who is really to blame for the state of Britain's railways.
The first of 56 giant concrete piers for the Colne Valley Viaduct has been cast. Once complete, this will be the UK's longest rail bridge.
The contract to design, build and maintain the HS2 rolling stock fleet for Phase 1 London-Birmingham has gone to the Hitachi Rail-Alstom JV.
The first tunnel boring machine working on HS2 in the Midlands launched on 2 December, excavating a one-mile tunnel in Warwickshire.
As part of Alstom's acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, the companies agreed to divest a number of assets, including the V300 ZEFIRO.
Stanton Precast has been awarded the contract to deliver three 'green tunnels' for HS2 by the main works contractor EKFB.
Work on HS2’s Old Oak Common 850-metre-long station box has begun. The reinforced concrete structure will form the station's frame and base.
The Integrated Rail Plan published today, 18 November 2021, announces a huge slash in new railway lines being built in England.
HS2 has published a shortlist of bidders for the Phase 2a Design and Delivery Partner contract. The winner will be announced next summer.
In this month's column, Jonn Elledge muses on the future of HS2's eastern leg and the political tug of war taking place behind the scenes.
HS2 tunnel boring machine ‘Florence’ has passed the one mile mark, cutting through a mix of chalk and flint beneath the Chiltern hills.
HS2 has invited six bidders to tender for a major two-part enabling works contract for its recently approved Phase 2a section.
One year on from the start of phase one's construction, HS2 has announced that 20,000 people are now working on the high-speed rail project.
HS2 has confirmed the shortlist of bidders to build its control centre and rolling stock maintenance depot.
HS2 Ltd has published revised images of the Adelaide Road headhouse in Camden, after changes were made to the design.
Images of HS2’s Chesham Road rural headhouse, which will provide emergency access to the 10-mile-long Chiltern tunnel, has been unveiled.
The companies shortlisted to build HS2's Interchange Station in Solihull have been named by HS2 Ltd. The contract is to be awarded in 2022.
Leaders from across Yorkshire and the North East of England have contributed to a report demonstrating the importance of HS2's Eastern Leg.
SCS JV has signed the first of two contracts for the production of tunnel segments that will be used to construct HS2’s London tunnels.
In a UK first, on-site 3D reinforced concrete printing will be deployed by HS2's London tunnels contractor SCS JV.
Excavation of the vent shaft at Chalfont St Peter has begun in Buckinghamshire. It is the first of five on the HS2 Chiltern tunnels section.
HS2 designers are set to more than halve the amount of embedded carbon used in one of the high-speed rail project’s viaducts.
HS2 has begun its search for a team of specialist ground investigation contractors for the western leg of Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester.
HS2 has launched Cecilia, the second of two 2,000t tunnelling machines that will excavate ten-mile-long tunnels beneath the Chiltern Hills.
Permanent works on HS2's Old Oak Common station have got under way today with phase 1 seeing the construction of a 750,000m3 underground box.
HS2 has obtained approval for a scheme that will use excavated material to create new chalk grassland, woodland, wood pasture and wetland.
HS2 begins search for a construction partner to build Interchange Station. This will be at the centre of the new high speed rail network.
HS2 Ltd has revealed a new vacuum excavation technique for piling which could have massive benefits for the wider construction industry.
HS2 has deployed the first of 10 tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will be used during phase one of the UK’s new high speed railway.
HS2 has confirmed that a team made up of Mace and Dragados will build Birmingham’s new city centre high speed railway station.
HS2 has presented its design of the Oxford Canal Viaduct that will measure 62.5m and span the canal and towpath between Banbury and Daventry.
HS2 Ltd has published its shortlist of companies it has asked to tender for the high-speed railway's high-voltage power supply systems.
HS2 has cast the first of 112,000 wall segments for the high-speed railway's 10-mile Chiltern tunnel outside of London.
Work has begun on what will be the UK's longest rail viaduct – the Colne Valley Viaduct to the northwest of London, measuring 3.4km.
HS2 will use retired wind turbine blades originally destined for the incinerator to make reinforced concrete that is carbon-friendly.
HS2 Ltd has started its search for a specialist contractor to deliver the high-speed railway's engineering management system (EMS).
Following the formal handover of the Heathrow Express depot to Network Rail, NR will begin its decommissioning work in preparation for HS2.
Collins Earthworks has completed the preparation of the HS2 site in Warwickshire in readiness for tunnelling to start this summer.
HS2 Ltd has started its search for a contractor to build the rolling stock depot and control centre at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.
HS2 Ltd has revealed the design of the Euston tunnel headhouse that will sit alongside the West Coast Main Line in London.
HS2 Phase 2a, connecting the high-speed line from London to Crewe via Birmingham, has received royal assent in parliament.
HS2 has revealed its final design for the headhouse and vent shaft at Chalfont St Giles which will provide ventilation to the Chiltern tunnel.
Comments in the Commissioner's report stating the government is exploring cutting down platform numbers at HS2 Euston have sparked concern.
The first of five headhouses that will provide ventilation and emergency access to the HS2 Chiltern tunnel has gained planning approval.
The designs for the HS2 viaducts at Water Orton in Warwickshire have been unveiled following a public consultation in spring 2020.
HS2 has started its search for a switches and crossings supplier for Phase 1 and Phase 2a of the high-speed line between London and Crewe.
The National Infrastructure Commission has published its Rail Needs Assessment report, causing widespread dismay over possible cuts to HS2.
HS2 Ltd has revealed the first images of the north portal for the Long Itchington Wood tunnel site southeast of Birmingham.
HS2 and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will work together on utility diversions in readiness of the metro eastside extension.
Network Rail has announced major works at Euston for the construction of the HS2 terminus and on the West Coast Main Line in 2021.
Midlands Voices report by the High Speed Rail Group says the eastern leg of HS2 up to Leeds is crucial for levelling up the country.
The tunnel boring machines that will excavate the HS2 Chiltern tunnel will be equipped with robotic arms to help with the concrete segments.
HS2 Ltd has published the updated designs for the Canterbury Works vent shaft headhouse, which will sit above the Euston tunnel in London.
HS2 Ltd has unveiled the design of two viaducts in Northamptonshire as a four-week consultation period for local residents gets underway.
The HS2 rail project has generated more than 400 apprenticeships to date, with a goal of creating 2,000 over the course of the project.
HS2 Ltd has signed a contract with contractor Skanka Costain STRAVAG JV for the first 2 tunnel boring machines to start on the HS2 project.
HS2 Ltd has launched a public consultation on proposed changes the Phase 2b of the high-speed rail project, including additional platforms.
HS2 Ltd has today (4 Sep 2020) announced the formal start of construction on the high-speed railway line, a major milestone for the project.
Solihull Council has awarded planning permission for the HS2 Interchange Station, the surrounding landscaping and the automated people mover.
HS2 Ltd has revealed the design for the vent shaft headhouse at Amersham, one of five such structures along the Chiltern tunnel.
HS2 Ltd has signed an agreement with UKRRIN to accelerate the development of innovative rail technologies and their time to market.
HS2 Ltd has launched part two of its Innovation Accelerator following a large number of applications in part one.
HS2 Ltd has revealed the first images and names of the two TBMs that will create the tunnel through the Chilterns: Florence and Cecilia.
HS2 Ltd has begun its search for the contractor to deliver the high-voltage power supply systems, traction and non-traction, for the line.
HS2's Old Oak Common site has been handed over to contractors Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA, who won the contract to build the station in 2019.
HS2: the Chiltern Tunnel south portal site has now been fully levelled and the 17m headwall is now complete in preparation for the TBMs.
HS2 has revealed its final design for the first of four vent shaft headhouses for the Chiltern tunnel. This one is at Chalfont St Peter.
HS2 joint venture Mace Dragados has taken possession of the Euston Station construction site, preparing for the start of construction.
HS2 Ltd has started its search for overhead catenary system suppliers in preparation of awarding the £300m contract in 2022.
HS2 Ltd has launched a new hiring drive in anticipation of the start of major construction works on Phase 1 of the high-speed rail project.
HS2: The preparatory works at Euston station have reached a milestone with the demolition of the western ramp and canopy complete.
HS2 Ltd has revealed the construction companies that are shortlisted to tender for the Birmingham Curzon Street station build.
HS2 Ltd has launched its search for its operational telecoms supplier for Phase 1 and 2a of the high-speed line between London and Crewe.
Please fill in the contact form opposite. A member of the team will be in touch shortly.