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Long Itchington Wood tunnel

Naming competition

The Long Itchington Wood Tunnel

HS2’s contractor BBV Joint Venture (Balfour Beatty Group and VINCI Construction) has prepared the Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site in Warwickshire for the launch of the third HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).

Competition to name the Tunnel Boring Machine

We are running a competition for people to help choose a name for the tunnel boring machine that will start excavating under Long Itchington Wood this summer.

Following tradition, tunnel boring machines are always named after women, and HS2 initially asked people in Warwickshire to submit their suggestions based on their female role models – whether famous people or unsung heroines.

We will publish a shortlist of the best suggestions in May, when the public will be invited to vote for their favourite. The winner will be revealed prior to the launch of the Long Itchington Wood tunnel boring machine this summer.

This is the third HS2 tunnel boring machine to be named by public vote. The first two machines, which are due to start creating the tunnel under the Chilterns, were named after famous local Buckinghamshire women:

  • Florence Nightingale – the founder of modern nursing who spent many years living in Buckinghamshire; and
  • Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin – a pioneering astronomer and astrophysicist, who was born in Buckinghamshire.

How the tunnel will be built

The 2,000 tonne tunnel boring machine will create a one-mile twin bore tunnel under Long Itchington Wood, preserving this ancient woodland. It will take five months to dig the first bore of the tunnel, then it will be extracted at the south portal before being transported by road back to the north portal to commence the second bore. The final section will form a ‘green tunnel’ – also known as a cut and cover tunnel – where a roof above will return the land to the natural landscape.

At the peak of construction on the whole of Phase One, ten tunnel boring machines – each a self-contained underground factory – will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Weighing up to 2,200 tonnes, each 160m long machine will bore and line the tunnels as they drive forward at speeds of up to 15 metres per day.