First tunnel created in UK’s new high-speed rail network

Train watchers and other fans of the UK’s new high-speed rail network rejoiced this week when the first tunnel on the London-Birmingham route was completed. This is the first of 64 miles of complex tunnels on this route alone.

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The new high-speed rail system, known as HS2, combines overhead and underground travel. In some places, tunnels are preferred to protect the ecosystems under which the train will pass. For example, the mile-long Long Itchington Timber Tunnel will preserve ancient forests. The 10-mile-long Chiltern Tunnel will be the deepest, up to 90 meters in places. In a clever turn, the excavated material will move on a conveyor belt, rather than being trucked on giant vehicles, which could clog local roads.

Related: Train tech gets an eco-friendly upgrade with Revolution VLR

To create the tunnels, 10 custom-built tunnel boring machines will gnaw beneath the UK’s surface. The machine that has just finished creating the first tunnel has been nicknamed Dorothy and, judging by the UK Department for Transport’s press release, the drill uses female pronouns. It weighs 200 tons and spent eight months underground to accomplish its mission.

The HS2 project promises to significantly improve rail capacity by linking London to major cities in northern England and the Midlands. It should also create thousands of new jobs.

‘HS2 will play a key role in the government’s £96billionIntegrated rail plan– the biggest ever public investment in Britain’s rail network – which, through the creation of three new high-speed lines, will add more seats, shorten journey times, support local services and provide modern, fully connected for the North and Midlands faster than under any previous plan,” HS2 Minister Trudy Harrison said in a statement. “This is, quite literally, a groundbreaking moment – demonstrating that we continue to deliver on our promises and advance our transformation plans to boost transport, bring communities together and level the North and Midlands.”

Going through GOV.UK

Main image via Pexels

Jose P. Rogers