Train spotters and other fans of the UK’s new high-speed rail network rejoiced this week when the first tunnel on the London to Birmingham route was completed. This is the first of 64 miles of complex tunnels along this route alone.

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The new high-speed rail system, known as HS2, combines overground and underground travel. In some places, tunnels are preferred to protect the ecosystems under which the train will pass. For example, the mile-long Long Itchington Wood Tunnel will preserve ancient woodland. The 10-mile long Chiltern Tunnel will be the deepest, up to 90 meters in places. In a neat twist, the excavated material will head onto a conveyor belt instead of being transported by giant vehicles that could clog local roads.

Related: Train tech gets an eco-upgrade with the Revolution VLR

To create the tunnels, 10 purpose-built tunnel boring machines will be chewing beneath the surface of the UK. The machine that just finished creating the first tunnel is called Dorothy, and judging by the UK Department of Transport press release, the boring machine uses feminine pronouns. She weighed 200 tons and spent eight months underground to accomplish her mission.

The HS2 project promises to significantly increase rail capacity as it connects London to major cities in the North of England and the Midlands. It is also expected to create thousands of new jobs.

“HS2 will play a key role in the Government’s £96bnIntegrated Railway Plan– the biggest public investment in Britain’s rail network – which, by creating three new high-speed lines, will add more seats, cut journey times, support local services and deliver modern, fully connected transport for the North and Midlands faster than under any previous plan,” HS2 minister Trudy Harrison said in a statement. “This is literally a ground-breaking moment – ​​demonstrating that we are continuing to deliver on our promises and progress our transformative plans to boost transport, bring communities together and level the North and Midlands.”

Through GOV.UK

Lead image via Pexels

First tunnel created in UK’s new high speed rail network

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