Balfour Beatty VINCI Initiates Final HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine Digging Towards Birmingham in the West Midlands

Balfour Beatty VINCI launches final tunnel boring machine for HS2 in West Midlands

Balfour Beatty VINCI has initiated the deployment of its last tunnel boring machine (TBM) to excavate tunnels for HS2, the high-speed railway project in the West Midlands.

Measuring 125 meters in length, the TBM has commenced its journey to dig the second bore of HS2’s Bromford Tunnel, situated between the east portal at Water Orton in North Warwickshire and the west portal at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

The twin-bore tunnel, spanning 3.5 miles, will facilitate high-speed train transportation to and from Birmingham, with a series of viaducts connecting Washwood Heath to Curzon Street Station in the city center.

The first TBM, named ‘Mary Ann’ after Warwickshire-born author George Eliot, commenced operations in June 2023 and has completed approximately one-third of its journey towards Birmingham. Currently, the machine is tunneling near the River Tame, having passed beneath the Park Hall Nature Reserve. It will continue its course adjacent to the M6 at a depth of 27 meters before reaching Washwood Heath later this year. The second TBM is scheduled to conclude its journey by Autumn 2025.

The entire Bromford Tunnel project is being executed by approximately 450 personnel working for Balfour Beatty VINCI. A dedicated tunnelling team, operating 24/7 under subcontractors Tunnelcraft and Rorcon based in Solihull, is managing both TBMs, with each bore requiring approximately 16 months for completion.

In accordance with the tradition of naming HS2 TBMs after renowned local women, students from Paget Primary School in Birmingham have christened the latest machine ‘Elizabeth’, honoring Dame Elizabeth Cadbury for her advocacy for women’s education and welfare in Birmingham.

Jules Arlaud, Tunnelling Director for Balfour Beatty VINCI, expressed enthusiasm for the milestone, highlighting the dedication of the tunnelling team.

Catherine Loveridge, HS2’s Senior Project Manager, emphasized the significance of the project for the region, noting the employment opportunities it provides.

Tunnelcraft has recruited nine tunnelling apprentices, including individuals from the local community, offering them the chance to acquire new skills and embark on a new career path.

Rorcon, a Solihull-based company, is actively involved in the Bromford Tunnel project, contributing to local employment and skills development.

The TBMs are expected to remove a total of 1.87 million tonnes of excavated material, which will be processed and reused at HS2’s nearby construction sites. Additionally, they will install over 41,000 concrete segments, produced at Balfour Beatty VINCI’s precast factory in Avonmouth, to create the twin-bore tunnel.

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