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HS2 launches first giant tunnelling machine

HS2 Ltd announced the launch of ‘Florence’ last week, the enormous 2,000 tonne tunnel boring machine from the company’s site near the M25 in Hertfordshire.

Named after the founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale, following a suggestion from local children, ‘Florence’ will dig the first of 10-mile-long tunnels under the Chiltern Hills.

The second machine, dubbed ‘Cecilia’, will launch next month to excavate the second tunnel at the site.

The launch of the first of 10 giant tunnelling machines at an event attended by HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson and HS2 Ltd CEO Mark Thurston, marks the beginning of the creation of 64 miles of tunnels between London and the West Midlands.

The launch was also used to highlight the number of jobs created by the mammoth engineering project, as well as the high-speed link’s potential to free up space on the rail network for more freight services, while supporting the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP hailed the launch as “not only a landmark moment for the project, but the ground-breaking evidence that shows our commitment to levelling up transport links across the UK, supporting thousands of jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships in the process.”

Mark Thurston maintained that more than 16,000 jobs were already being supported by the project and that thousands of companies of all sizes were benefitting from HS2 contracts. “The start of tunnelling is a moment of genuine excitement for everyone involved,” he said, “and I hope the entire country will get behind this truly transformative project.”

Zoe McLernon, Multimodal Policy Manager, Logistics UK, said: “The launch of the giant tunnelling machines marks the passing of a significant milestone in the HS2 project. Ever since HS2 received the green light from government in early 2020, Logistics UK has been calling for a guarantee that the new high-speed rail line will free up space for much-needed freight services. In our paper HS2: the case for released freight capacity, launched at the end of last year, we proposed ways to enhance the role of freight services on the existing rail network.”


Published On: 20/05/2021 17:00:52


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