HS2 celebrates historic first tunnelling breakthrough in Warwickshire


The company building the HS2 rail link has successfully completed a one-mile stretch of tunnel underneath an ancient Warwickshire wood.

Balfour Beatty‘s Massive Tunnel Boring Machine was used by HS2 Ltd to bore the tunnel over seven months.

The 125 metre-long, 2,000-tonne tunnel boring machine named ‘Dorothy’ – after Dorothy Hodgkin, who in 1964 became the first British woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry – took seven months to tunnel under the ancient Long Itchington Wood.

Four hundred workers were also involved in the project – part of Europe’s largest infrastructure scheme.

HS2 Ltd’s CEO Mark Thurston said: “This is a historic moment for the HS2 project, and I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in delivering it.

250,000 cubic metres of mudstone and soil were removed and 790 concrete rings in place, with each ring made from eight two-metre-long segments.

“The 400-strong team, including tunnelling engineers, TBM operators and the construction workers at both portal sites, have pulled out all the stops to achieve this fantastic milestone.

“This milestone demonstrates the significant momentum behind Britain’s new zero-carbon railway, creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships, along with hundreds of opportunities for businesses right across the country, helping fuel our economic recovery.”

HS2 Minister Trudy Harrison said: “This is, quite literally, a ground-breaking moment – demonstrating that we are getting on with delivering on our promises and progressing our transformative plans to boost transport, bring communities together and level up the North and Midlands.

“As Dorothy paves the way for journeys between Birmingham and London, we continue to strive towards delivering a greener, faster and more direct transport network. And as we deliver alongside our record-breaking Integrated Rail Plan, we’re boosting the economy, delivering over 25,000 jobs.”