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Yesterday HS2 Ltd announced that they’d launched yet another Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) but this one had a couple of important differences to the five that are already in service.

Launched from the Atlas Rd construction site in North London by the Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV), ‘Lydia’ is an upcycled TBM formerly known as ‘Ellie’. The TBM dug two sections of the Crossrail tunnels in the Capital – from Limmo Peninsula in Canning Town to Royal Victoria Dock, and between Pudding Mill Lane and Stepney Green completing a total of 2.23 miles.  

Made redundant from that task the Shield head and cutting wheel along with other components were refurbished by the builder Herrenknecht. The 847m long TBM will now spend the next six months driving an 853 metre long tunnel to the Old Oak Common construction site. The TBM has an 6.2 metre internal diameter. Starting drilling at a depth of 5 metres below ground it will reach a maximum depth of 20 metres. 4,264 concrete segments will be used, forming 533 tunnel rings. The segments, each weighing over 3 tonnes, have been produced by Pacadar in Kent.

The new service tunnel will have two uses. The first is to be fitted with a conveyor belt that will connect with an existing conveyor at the Atlas Rd site to transport spoil to the HS2 London Logistics Hub at Willesden Euro Terminal where the spoil will be moved onwards to sites in Kent, Cambridgeshire (Foxton) and Rugby by rail. The second use will be to transport 8,010 tunnel segment rings to construct the HS2 tunnels from Old Oak Common to Euston. These segment rings are being manufactured by STRABAG in Hartlepool. Both sets of segments will be moved to sites by rail. HS2 Ltd estimate that the new service tunnel will save 70,000 lorry journeys being added to London’s roads. It’s an impressive commitment to making HS2 construction as green as possible, using rail and on-site services as much as possible to minimise disruption elsewhere.

The significance of this is that construction of the HS2 tunnels from Old Oak Common to Euston is still proceeding as planned – despite the delay to building Euston station itself. Let’s face it, if you’re not going to build Euston, you’re not going to need to build the expensive Euston tunnels!

Workers checking over ‘Lydia’ before yesterdays launch (pic c/o HS2 Ltd).

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