HS2’s tunnel boring machine completes first tunnel after 8 months underground

History made as Dorothy – HS2’s state-of-the-art tunnel boring machine – completes the project’s first tunnel after 8 months underground. Source: Department of Transport

Historic breakthrough on London to Birmingham route.

Passengers across the north and Midlands are one step closer to quicker, greener and more reliable train services as Dorothy, HS2’s tunnel boring machine, has made her first breakthrough on the London to Birmingham route after 8 months underground.  

Breaking through at Long Itchington Wood late last week, Dorothy – one of HS2’s 10 custom-built tunnel boring machines – completed the first of 64 miles of tunnel which will span intermittently between London and Manchester. The tunnel network is set to improve transport across the country, level up the north and Midlands and bring Europe’s largest rail project to life.

As well as boosting local economies through fast and reliable services, the tunnel boring machines are already delivering for communities along the route with Dorothy alone employing 400 workers, adding to the over 25,000 jobs created through HS2 so far.  

HS2 Minister Trudy Harrison said:  

This is, quite literally, a ground-breaking moment – demonstrating that we are getting on with delivering on our promises and progressing our transformative plans to boost transport, bring communities together and level up the north and Midlands.

As Dorothy paves the way for journeys between Birmingham and London, we continue to strive towards a greener, faster and more direct transport network. And along with our record breaking Integrated Rail Plan, we’re boosting the economy, delivering over 25,000 jobs.

The tunnels have been specially designed to protect the ancient woodland and complex ecosystem above. They integrate with the natural landscape by reusing material excavated from the tunnel to build a soil ‘roof’ around the tunnel entrance. The rest of the excavated material will be transported by conveyor belt out of the site rather than by lorries and trucks, avoiding the use of around 30,000 HGVs on the local roads.

HS2 will play a key role in the government’s £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan – the biggest ever public investment in Britain’s rail network – which, through the creation of 3 new high speed lines, will add more seats, shorten journey times, support local services and deliver a modern, fully connected transport for the north and Midlands quicker than under any previous plan.


  1. Thank you Boris. HS2 would never have got underway if you had not persevered. As the inventor of railways, it would be sad for Britain to have the worse railways in the world.

    Our road and railway system is dire so let’s hope this will be a good start towards more modern railways.

    I would like freight to be sent by rail so that the roads are not so badly damaged by millions of lorries.

    Lorries are dangerous on the roads as they pull out in front of cars and crawl past other lorries.


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