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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

HS2 Chiltern tunnels pass halfway mark

HS2 tunnel boring machines Florence and Cecilia have passed the halfway point on their 10-mile journey under the Chilterns.

More than 1.3 million cubic metres of chalk and flint has been excavated on this section so far and will be used as part of a chalk grassland restoration project at the south portal of the tunnel. Martyn Noak, head of tunnel engineering for client organisation HS2 Ltd, said: “The whole team has put in a fantastic effort over the last year-and-a-half and I’d like to congratulate the crews of both Florence and Cecilia for passing this important tunnelling milestone and thank them for all their hard work.” Align, a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, is responsible for the Chiltern tunnel and nearby Colne Valley Viaduct. A crew of 17 people from subcontractor TG Tunnelling operates each TBM, working in shifts to keep the machines running 24/7. They are supported by more than 100 people on the surface, managing the logistics.

More than 56,000 fibre-reinforced tunnel lining segments have been installed so far, with each one made on site in a dedicated temporary pre-cast factory.

Didier Jacques, Align's underground construction director, described it as “a great team effort”. As well as the Chiltern tunnels, HS2 also recently launched two TBMs to begin the project’s London tunnels and celebrated the first breakthrough with the completion of the first of two tunnels under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.

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