TBM Breakthrough.




Tunnel Boring Machine


Document the TBM completing tunnelling

Almost three years from start to finish. You must celebrate when a machine has been working tirelessly for so long under the ground and arrives ahead of schedule.

HS2’s giant tunnelling machine which was launched two years, nine months previously, needed to break through sometime. 10 miles in length under the chilterns hills excavating the longest tunnel in the HS2 project. The enormous 2,000 tonne Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) named ‘Florence’, just one of 10 machines enlisted to excavate a total of 32 miles of tunnel, on the new railway linking London with Birmingham.

Florence was the first TBM to be launched on the HS2 project, tunnelling almost a third of the entire of the project’s tunnels needed. Making an average of 16 meters of progress a day (Which doesn’t seem too bad, for a tunnel that is the height of two double decker busses!). Using 56,000 pre-cast concrete segments do depths reaching 8m meters down all by a team of 450.

The date was set for the TBM to break through into the open, and it was CampaignWorks task to make it a celebration to remember and to thank all those that had worked so hard on the project.

There was the build-up to the actual breakthrough, Ministers and the worlds press were invited as well as those that had worked so hard to get the TBM into position. A full AV team were deployed to get the speeches and music to be heard over the grinding of the TBM. A film crew to record this event and broadcast it around all the Align JV sites and beyond. Coordinating speeches and supporting videos and a massive countdown. A full 9-meter circle mural of the TBM cutter head was created over the exact spot where the TBM would break through. Numerous banners topped off with a massive 40 meter billboard of the HS2 train.

On time and within only a few millimetres the 2,000-tonne machine finally and spectacularly broke through the thick supporting concrete wall.

The secret was then revealed, a plume of 5 flame units shot Align coloured excitement into the air 12 meters above the guests heads as celebratory music played. The concrete wall came crashing down. A fitting end to the TBMs long journey.

Time now for some photo opportunities and pack away the gear for the next achievement on this engineering challenge.

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