First images of one of HS2’s largest construction sites revealed

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tunnel boring machine
FIlm and photo shoot of the Long Itchington wood North Portal, with apprentice/undergraduate Shehan

HS2 has revealed the first images of one of its largest construction sites in the Midlands, which is being prepared for the launch of a tunnel boring machine (TBM)

The tunnel boring machine will dig under Long Itchington Wood, creating a 1-mile twin-bore tunnel, before the route heads North and swings into Birmingham’s Curzon Street Station.

This site on the Midlands section of the HS2 route is managed by the BBV Joint Venture (Balfour Beatty Group and VINCI Construction).

BBV JV expects to recruit 7,000 jobs to support the delivery of its HS2 programme of work.

There are currently 60 workers on site including student engineers and apprentices. Twenty students from Walsall College will complete their 45-day industry placement with BBV working on the delivery of HS2.

Current work on the 1km sq site entails a large and deep excavation, with 250,000m3 of material being excavated in layers before being transported and deposited locally to form environmental embankments for the mainline.

The 2,000-tonne tunnel boring machine, which has been manufactured by Herrenknecht, is due for delivery on-site in early 2021, will be launched in Summer 2021 and completion of the boring will be mid-2022. The tunnel will be around 9-10 metres in diameter.

‘Levelling up prosperity and opportunity’

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson, said: “It’s exciting to see construction of HS2 underway. These works will not only deliver a world-class high-speed railway improving connectivity across the Midlands and beyond, but will have a lasting impact on jobs, skills and businesses here in the UK as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

“The BBV joint venture will be one of the biggest recruiters in the region over the next two years, as the construction of HS2 Phase 1 creates 7,000 jobs across the Midlands.

“That underlines how vital HS2 is to levelling up prosperity and opportunity across the country, as we build back better from this pandemic.”

David Bennett, HS2’s delivery director, commented: “The Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site is a key site on the Midlands section of the HS2 route, and it’s great to see work progressing well in preparation for the arrival of the tunnel boring machine next year.

“The tunnel in this location goes under Long Itchington Wood specifically to preserve a section of ancient woodland. This forms a key element in how we are managing environmental impacts through the design of the railway.

“Along with 32 miles of tunnel, HS2 will also be crisscrossed by over 150 bridges and underpasses on Phase One, including 16 specially designed ‘green bridges’ covered in planting, and a green corridor alongside the route will integrate HS2 into the landscape.”

Michael Dyke, managing director of Balfour Beatty VINCI, added: “In readiness for the arrival of the first tunnel boring machine, works have already commenced in earnest to prepare the Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site, with our expert team and valued supply chain partners excavating 250,000m3 of material before reusing it elsewhere across the route.

“Critical to the successful delivery of Europe’s largest infrastructure project – HS2, the 2,000-tonne tunnel boring machine will set off on its journey from the portal next Summer, travelling from North to South to create the twin bore Long Itchington Wood Tunnel.”

The tunnel boring machine will take around 5 months to complete the first bore of the twin-bore tunnel.

Once the first bore is complete, the TBM will be extracted at the South Portal reception box before being transported by road back to the North Portal to commence the second bore. A large portion of the TBM support modules will be drawn back through the bored tunnel before being positioned on the cradle for the second bore.

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