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July 06, 2021

First of 10 NEC-procured tunnel boring machines starts work on HS2 in the UK

First of 10 NEC-procured tunnel boring machines starts work on HS2 in the UK

Simon Fullalove

The first of 10 NEC-procured tunnel boring machines for the initial 215 km phase of Britain’s HS2 high-speed railway, linking London and the West Midlands, started digging under the Chiltern Hills in May 2021.

The 10.3 m diameter and 170 m long machine, called Florence, was procured by contractor Align – a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine and Volker Fitzpatrick − from German manufacturer Herrenknecht using an NEC3 Supply Contract (SC). Together with its 2000 t sister machine Cecilia, it will complete the 16 km long twin 9.1 m diameter Chiltern tunnel in around 3 years.

Align is engaged under a £1.6 billion NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option C (target contract with activity schedule) for the Chiltern tunnel and Colne Valley viaduct (see Issue 108).

Contractor SCS Railways – a joint venture of Skanska, Costain and Strabag − is also using NEC3 SC to procure seven TBMs to work on the Euston and Northolt tunnels, for which it has two ECC Option C contracts worth £3.3 billion. In addition, the BBV joint venture of Balfour Beatty and Vinci is using NEC3 SC to procure the remaining TBM for the Long Itchington Wood tunnel in Warwickshire from Herrenknecht (pictured on page 1).

The TBMs are understood to be worth an average of around £15 million each.
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