HS2 launches fourth TBM on west London tunnel drive

HS2 has launched the last of four tunnel boring machines (TBM) to build the Northolt Tunnel.

The TBM, called Anne, will bore 3.4 miles from Ealing’s Victoria Road to Greenpark Way in Greenford. It joins TBM Emily which was launched back in February.

TBM Anne is the final of four TBMs needed to build the 8.4-mile long Northolt Tunnel, which will run from Ealing to Hillingdon. It measures 170 metres in length and weighs 1,700 tonnes.

The joint venture of Skanska Costain Strabag (SCS JV), which is responsible for the route, named the TBM after Lady Anne Byron after a public vote in Ealing.

Byron was an educational reformer and philanthropist who launched Ealing Grove School in 1834. The school was the first cooperative launched in England that provided education for working-class children.

TBMs Sushila and Caroline have been building the other five-mile section since 2022. Work on the tunnel is expected to complete in 2025, according to HS2.

Herrenknecht manufactured the TBM in Germany, and two further TBMs are currently under construction for use between Old Oak Common and Euston. They are set for delivery to the UK later this year, when HS2 said they will be lowered into the station box at Old Oak Common.

HS2 project client director for the London tunnels Malcolm Codling said: “The launch of Anne is the culmination of many years of work for the London Tunnels team and a further triumph in British engineering.”

SCS JV managing director James Richardson called the launch of the TBM a “milestone” for the project.

“With a quartet of TBMs and over 20 construction sites all making significant progress, we are on course to deliver the high-speed line into central London, creating economic growth and opportunities at every step of the way,” he added.

The launch comes as HS2 announced it had completed more than half of its bored tunnelling between London and the West Midlands.

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