HS2 finally gets under way as world's longest tunnelling machine ­prepares to start digging

THE world’s longest tunnelling machine ­prepares to start digging — as the HS2 rail project finally gets under way.

Florence, the 170-metre-long boring machine, weighing 2,000 tons, will spend the next three-and-a-half years drilling ten miles of tunnel at 15 metres every day.

Ten borers will dig 64 miles of tunnel for the project, linking London to the Midlands.

This machine, in West Hyde, Herts, is named after nurse Florence Nightingale.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The launch today of the first giant tunnelling machine on HS2 is not only a landmark moment for the project, but the ground-breaking evidence that shows our commitment to levelling up transport links across the UK, supporting thousands of jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships in the process.

“The work has truly begun on taking HS2 northwards.

"The tunnels these machines dig will ensure the benefits of our new high-capacity, high-speed railway run to the great cities of the North and Midlands, forging stronger connections in our country, boosting connectivity and skills opportunities and transforming our transport links.”

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “The launch of Florence – the first HS2 tunnelling machine – is a truly historic moment for the project and this country.

“Supporting over 16,000 skilled jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships, and thousands of contract opportunities for British businesses, HS2 is a job creator, a spark for economic growth and an opportunity to level up the country, right at the heart of our plans to build back better from Covid-19.”

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