Go to content

Tunnels

Connecting the country, creating thousands of jobs and rebalancing the UK economy
HS2's first Midlands tunnelling machine, TBM Dorothy, unveiled

We're building dedicated new rail tunnels to carry HS2 trains

We're currently constructing new tunnels between London and the West Midlands, forming part of the HS2 network that will help connect the country, create thousands of jobs and rebalance the UK economy.

Ten giant tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will dig the 64 miles of tunnels between London and the West Midlands.

Find out more about our tunnelling machines

5 tunnel drives The tunnels for the London to West Midlands section of the route will be constructed in five separate tunnel drives.

90m deep HS2's Chiltern tunnel will be 10 miles long and run at depths of up to 90m, making it the deepest point on the route.

How we’re building our tunnels

The HS2 tunnels have large internal diameters. The trains will be travelling at high speed through the tunnels and larger tunnels help lower the pressure variations inside, making it more comfortable for passengers. We are building our tunnels using different construction techniques to suit their purpose and local conditions.

Bored tunnels

A twin-bore tunnel is where two parallel tunnels, each containing a single rail track, are constructed using tunnel boring machines (TBMs). The rotating cutter-head at the front of the TBM bores the tunnel, installing the round concrete segments that form the tunnel walls as it goes.  We will be using ten tunnelling machines on five separate tunnel drives between the West Midlands and London:

  • Euston Tunnel – a 4.5 mile tunnel that will take passengers from Euston station to Old Oak Common station.
  • Northolt Tunnel – an 8.4 mile tunnel under London that will take passengers from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip.
  • Chiltern Tunnel – the longest and deepest tunnel will be the Chiltern tunnel measuring 10 miles (16km) long and will go as deep as 90 metres.
  • Long Itchington Wood Tunnel – a short 1 mile long tunnel under Long Itchington Wood, preserving this ancient woodland.
  • Bromford Tunnel – a 3.5 mile twin-bore tunnel situated just outside Birmingham.

Green tunnels

A green tunnel – or cut-and-cover tunnel  – is where a trench is excavated and roofed over, then the land on top of the tunnel is restored so it blends into the landscape. This technique will be used by HS2 for the following tunnels:

  • Wendover in Buckinghamshire
  • Burton Green in the West Midlands; and
  • Chipping Warden and Greatworth, both in  Northamptonshire.

The tunnel at Long Itchington wood, in Warwickshire, will be built using both green tunnel and bored tunnel techniques.

London tunnels

Northolt tunnel

The tunnel will carry passengers from Old Oak Common station 8.4 miles under London to West Ruislip.

Euston tunnel

The Euston tunnel is a 4.5 mile tunnel that will take passengers from Euston station to Old Oak Common station.

Buckinghamshire tunnels

Chiltern tunnel

The longest and deepest tunnel will be the Chiltern tunnel measuring 10 miles (16km) long and will go as deep as 90 metres.

Wendover tunnel

Wendover tunnel is a green tunnel is a tunnel located to the west of Wendover just under one mile in length.

West Midlands tunnels

Bromford tunnel

The Bromford tunnel is a 3.5 mile twin-bore tunnel situated just outside Birmingham.

Burton Green tunnel

The Burton Green tunnel is the shortest of all tunnels on the Phase One route measuring only half a mile in length.

Warwickshire and Northamptonshire tunnels

Chipping Warden and Greatworth tunnels

The Chipping Warden tunnel and Greatworth tunnel are both green tunnels 1.5 miles and 1.6 miles in length.

Long Itchington Wood tunnel

Long Itchington Wood tunnel is unique as it is the only tunnel on the HS2 Phase One route that uses two tunnelling construction methods.

Our tunnels will be constructed in a number of different locations along the route. In total 130 million tonnes of earth will be excavated, enough to fill Wembley Stadium 15 times.

Track our tunnelling progress