HS2’s massive Tunnel Boring Machines, (TBMs), continue to rip into stunning English countryside as more concrete is poured into the ground.
The £100billion high-speed network’s latest phase tore two enormous holes for 10 miles under the much-loved Chilterns near the picturesque village of West Hyde in Hertfordshire.
Aerial pictures showed the devastation caused by the 557ft TBMs – called Cecilia after astronomer Payne-Gaposchkin and Florence after nurse Nightingale – as acres of greenery were turned into a building site.
Furious campaigners argued that HS2 – which will run from London to Birmingham – poses a ‘grave threat to the UK’s ancient forests, with 108 at-risk of loss or damage’.
The firm countered that only 0.29 km (0.11 mi) of ancient woodland would be lost during the initial phase.
Meanwhile the rail industry is bracing for a downsizing of a major section of HS2 due to the project’s ballooning price tag amid the economic impact of the pandemic.
HS2’s enormous Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), continue to rip through the stunning English countryside, as they pour more concrete into it
Is there light at its end? The £100billion high-speed network’s latest phase tore enormous holes for 10 miles under the much-loved Chilterns near the village of West Hyde in Hertfordshire
As he walks towards Cecilia (the Tunnel Boring Machine) Cecilia, a member the HS2 team pauses at a stretch of tunnel as he looks back at the astrophysicist Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin.
Dramatic photograph of the tunnel leading to the Tunnel Boring Machine used to dig for High Speed 2. The rail industry is preparing for a reduction in the size of HS2 and the project’s rising cost, especially after the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
Recent criticisms have raised concerns about the high-speed rail project, raising questions about its value.
Aerial photographs showed the destruction caused the 557ft TBMs. Grasslands of greenery were transformed into a building site, with stacks made of metal and stone stacked up in front of two huge burrows.
Furious campaigners claimed that HS2 – which will connect London and Birmingham – poses a ‘grave threat to the UK’s ancient forests, with 108 at-risk of loss or damage’. Pictured: The tunnel entrances at West Hyde
Campaigners were slammed by HS2, who claimed that 0.29 kilometres (0.11 miles) of ancient forest would be lost in the first phase. Andrew Bridgen, Tory backbencher and author of the Commons’ statement that HS2 would be a ‘loss-making project’ and wouldn’t be completed before 2041, around 10 years later than originally planned, made the announcement.
Ten 170-metre-long tunnel boring machines that weigh up to 2,200t will work around the clock to bore and line tunnels. They can cover about 15 metres per day. The tunnel boring machine will move south towards London to start digging the tunnel. To create the twin bore tunnel, a second tunnel must also be dug. Each tunnel will take about five months to dig. Pictured: Construction worker near concrete tunnel lining segments
According to HS2’s website, the final stage will include a ‘green tunnel’. This is where a soil roof’ is built around the tunnel entrance in order to integrate it into the natural landscape. Pictured: A crane is used to lift concrete slabs.
Yesterday, a construction worker laid the concrete floor along a stretch that runs through the HS2 Tunnel. Work suspensions, social distancing and reduced productivity over the past 12 months saw HS2’s costs soar by another £1.7bn in September – with the project’s estimated overall budget now swelling over £106billion
Pictured: The massive tunnel entrances in West Hyde yesterday. The rail industry and Northern leaders are preparing for a reduction in the size of a large section of the HS2 as part of a report due to be published at or after the Cop26 summit
Yesterday, a construction worker shows the operator how large the concrete slabs and cranes are used to line the tunnel. It is not expected that the high-speed rail linking Birmingham to Leeds, also known by the ‘eastern legs’, will be fully laid. This means that HS2 trains will travel at slower speeds on existing tracks for up to 60 miles between the two cities.
Pictured: A member the HS2 team talks with a colleague while he walks along a section of the tunnel below the Chilterns yesterday. According to sources familiar, the journey time could be up to an hour rather than 40 minutes. A compromise was reached after pressure from northern leaders pro-HS2 who could still see 80 miles of high speed track laid.
Pictured: A view from the HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine. HS2 will link London and Birmingham in phase 1, before splitting into two sections. The western leg linking Birmingham and Manchester is expected to proceed
As he stands in an emergency shelter onboard the Tunnel Boring Machine, Cecilia, yesterday, a member of the HS2 Team holds a bag of emergency rations.
As she talks about her role in the HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine yesterday, the pilot gestures to her monitor screens. After being delayed from January, the Integrated Rail Plan is due to be published around mid November.
Pictured: A view looking back at the cutterhead in front of the TBM. Phase 1 of HS2 was scheduled to open in 2026. However, Transport Sinister Grant Shapps updated Parliament in 2019 to say that the opening date for Phase 2 would be delayed to 2028 or 2031.
A vehicle transports concrete tunnel lining segments weighing an average of 8.5 tonnes each to one of the two tunnels at HS2 south portal site. The DfT reported in March 2021 that the HS2 six-monthly HS2 report to Parliament stated that the expected ‘delivery into services’ date range is between 2029-2033.
Yesterday, a service vehicle stopped to drop off passengers at a section of the HS2 tunnel below the Chilterns. One contractor familiar with the project stated that HS2 Ltd, a state-funded entity responsible for delivering it, ‘doesn’t really understand how much Covid has been added’. MailOnline reached out to HS2 Ltd for comment.
A view of HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine’s cutterhead. After more than a decade planning, Phase 1 construction started in August 2012. However, Treasury fears that HS2 could be a tax-paying black hole due to its ballooning costs.
Pictured: Yesterday’s section of the HS2 tunnel under the Chilterns shows the tunnel wall, including the semi-rigid slurry flow pipes and the air input tube (top).
A member of HS2’s team looks back from the Tunnel Boring Machine as he travels along a section. MailOnline previously learned that the Covid pandemic had led to ‘unavoidable expenses’ from the Department of Transport.
Pictured: The HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine shows the enormity of the project. HS2 stated that the high-speed line would reduce travel times between London and northern England, and increase capacity for Britain’s already crowded rail network.
Yesterday, a crane lifted concrete tunnel lining segments weighing an average of 8.5 tonnes each into a storage area at the site of HS2 South Portal. Tunnel Boring Machines will require 112,000 of these concrete segments to complete the tunnels.
Pictured: Wednesday’s tunnel entrances. Critics have doubted whether the rail line’s ballooning price tag is worth it, especially after a pandemic that could permanently change peoples’ travel habits.