Meet Florence, the Giant Tunneling Machine That’s Building UK’s Future Railway

Florence is the first TBM out of 10 that will be used in the HS2 project 5 photos
Photo: HS2
Florence the Tunnel Boring MachineFlorence the Tunnel Boring MachineFlorence the Tunnel Boring MachineFlorence the Tunnel Boring Machine
You might not think so at first, but a tunnel boring machine (TBM) can be fascinating in its own way. Imagine a giant machine, with an elongated shape, that digs her way under the ground, as to not disturb anything above, day and night, paving the way for a future railway.
This 558 ft. (170 meters) long TBM, which weighs 2,000 tons, is new on the job, helping to dig 10 miles (16 km) of tunnel under the Chilterns, next to the M25 in Buckinghamshire, UK, for an upcoming high-speed rail (HS2). A total of 10 TBMs will be used to dig 64 miles (103 km) of tunnel for the project’s Phase One, but this one is the first, so she’s special.

Her name is Florence. Florence and The Machine is what comes to mind (remember the band?), but the name was actually inspired by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Local students suggested this name due to the fact that she lived in the area, and when people all over the UK participated in the poll to select the machine’s name, Florence came first.

Described by the HS2 project as a “self-contained underground factory”, Florence is not just digging the tunnel, but also paving it with concrete wall segments, that are made on site. The TBM manages to cover around 49 ft. (15 meters) per day. And she works at it non-stop. Which is why the 17-people crew that operates her works in shifts and more than 100 people are coordinating everything on the surface.

Florence was actually born in Germany, at the Herrenknecht (TBM manufacturer) factory, together with her twin sister, Cecilia. Then, it took over 300 separate shipments to get these 2 giant machines from Germany to the UK. Here, they had to be reassembled, tested and commissioned.

Florence’s work has just begun and will continue for the next 3 years. Cecilia will start next month, in order to excavate a second tunnel. The 10 TBMs in the HS2 project are the largest ever to be used on a UK rail project.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
Press Release
About the author: Otilia Drăgan
Otilia Drăgan profile photo

Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories