HS2 has revealed the first images of one of its largest construction sites in the Midlands near Long Itchington.
The site is being prepared for the launch of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will dig under Long Itchington Wood, creating a one mile twin bore tunnel, before the route heads north and swings into Birmingham's Curzon Street Station.
The site is being managed by the BBV Joint Venture (Balfour Beatty Group and VINCI Construction) and there are currently 60 workers on site including student engineers and apprentices.
Current work on the 1km sq site entails a large and deep excavation, with 250,000m3 of material being excavated in layers before being transported and deposited locally to form environmental embankments for the main line.
The 2,000 tonne tunnel boring machine, which has been manufactured in Germany by Herrenknecht, is due for delivery on site in early 2021, will be launched in summer 2021 and completion of the boring will be mid 2022. The tunnel will be around 9-10 metres in diameter.
HS2 is facing huge criticism after felling many woodlands, including some around Leamington and Kenilworth.
Campaigners asked for the route to be moved - or more tunnels to be built - so the woodlands could be saved - but to no avail.
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David Bennett, HS2’s delivery director said: “The Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site is a key site on the Midlands section of the HS2 route, and it’s great to see work progressing well in preparation for the arrival of the tunnel boring machine next year.
“The tunnel in this location goes under Long Itchington Wood specifically to preserve a section of ancient woodland. This forms a key element in how we are managing environmental impacts through the design of the railway.
"Along with 32 miles of tunnel, HS2 will also be criss-crossed by over 150 bridges and underpasses on Phase One, including 16 specially designed ‘green bridges’ covered in planting, and a green corridor alongside the route will integrate HS2 into the landscape.”