HS2 celebrates historic first tunnelling breakthrough

HS2 are celebrating the very first tunnelling breakthrough on Europe’s largest infrastructure project, as tunnel boring machine (TBM) Dorothy completed her one-mile dig under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.

The giant 125m long machine, which started its journey at the tunnel’s North Portal in December 2021, broke through the wall of the reception box at the South Portal site on Friday 22 July.

Nearly 400 people working for HS2’s joint venture contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) have delivered this important milestone on the HS2 project.

The 2,000-tonne TBM is named ‘Dorothy’ – after Dorothy Hodgkin, who in 1964 became the first British woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The tunnel preserves the ancient woodland above, which is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has complex ecosystems that have taken hundreds of years to establish.