During an overnight operation in Warwickshire in central England, the giant cutting head of the Dorothy Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) moved through the countryside above the Long Itchington Wood Tunnel to a new location so new drilling operations could begin. The 160-ton cutting head was moved vertically on a 12-meter 48-wheel self-propelled trailer for a distance of 4 km.

Dorothy TBM
Picture: HS2 Ltd

Once reassembled, Dorothy will begin drilling a second tunnel. After exiting the south portal of the first HS2 tunnel in July this year, the Dorothy’s front part was dismantled and transported back to the north portal, reports Railway Supply citing RailTech.

The 120-ton TBM tail plating with a diameter of 10 meters was also moved during the operation. Eight other large parts of the TBM shield have already been transported by special equipment. The rest of the 120m TBM will be pulled back through the 1.6km tunnel by a special “caterpillar” system at a speed of 150m per day. Once all parts are returned to the north portal, the TBM will be reassembled and drilling of the second tunnel will begin.

Dorothy TBM
Picture: HS2 Ltd

“This has been an intricately planned operation, using specialist equipment to transport these large, heavy pieces of machinery safely and carefully, over a 2.5-mile route, and onto our north portal site”, said Tom Comer, the logistics manager for the transport contractors Balfour Beatty VINCI. “We worked closely with the local authority, Warwickshire Police and British Transport Police, and would like to thank them for helping us ensure a safe operation, carried out at night to minimise disruption to the local community as much as possible.”

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Work on the passage of the second shaft of the tunnel is planned to be completed by the summer of next year. This will be the first fully completed double shaft tunnel under the HS2 project. The project will eventually connect London and Birmingham with a new high-speed rail and later Crewe to connect with the West Coast Main Line.

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