3rd TBM launched for the HS2 London Northolt Tunnel

The third tunnel boring machine (TBM) has been launched for the HS2 London Northolt Tunnel that will dig 3.4 miles (5.47 km) under the city.

TBM Emily, named after Emily Sophia Taylor who helped establish the Perivale Maternity Hospital in 1937 before becoming Ealing’s first female mayor in 1938, will be used to dig almost half of the 8.4-mile Northolt Tunnel.

The tunnel is built by Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture and is being built in two sections. Two TBMs, named Sushila and Caroline, are already constructing it eastward between West Ruislip and Greenford. Another two, Emily and Anne, are being used to dig the tunnel in the opposite direction from Victoria Road Crossover Box to Greenford.

Emily and Anne’s tunnel drive will cover 3.4 miles of the tunnel in total – slightly less than those being used on the other section. Emily was launched on 25 February and Anne, the fourth and final Northolt TBM, will be launched next month.

The quartet of TBMs are all set to complete their journeys in 2025, when they will be extracted from the ground through giant shafts at Greenpark Way.

“The HS2 London Tunnels team are well on the way to delivering a new railway into the heart of London with the launch of TBM Emily. Next month, we will be launching TBM Anne who together with Emily will form the tunnel from old Oak Common to Greenpark Way Shaft where they will meet with TBMs Sushila and Caroline, who are already halfway to completing their journeys from West Ruislip,”James Richardson, Managing Director of Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture, said.

The 8.4-mile (13.5 km) HS2 London Northolt Tunnel will carry passengers from Old Oak Common station to West Ruislip, where the HS2 route surfaces. The tunnel will be constructed using four tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in two phases, known as ‘Northolt Tunnel West’ and ‘Northolt Tunnel East’.

HS2 is also making progress on preparations on the separate tunnel between Old Oak Common and Euston – the line’s ultimate central London terminus. The Atlas Road Logistics Tunnel breakthrough in January. The logistics tunnel runs from the Old Oak Common Station box to Atlas Road logistics site and will facilitate the tunnelling operation to construct the Euston Tunnel. Two further TBMs will be delivered to Old Oak Common later this year, and placed into the underground box, ready to begin boring the Euston Tunnel. Following the Government’s Network North announcement in October last year, the funding and delivery arrangements for the Euston Tunnel are being reviewed.


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