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Help us name the first HS2 Tunnel Boring Machines

We need your help to name the first pair of tunnel boring machines to be used on the high-speed rail project.

HS2 is a state-of-the-art, high-speed line critical for the UK’s low-carbon transport future. It will provide much-needed rail capacity across the country, and is integral to rail projects in the North and Midlands – helping rebalance the UK economy.

Early in 2021, two 2000 tonne tunnelling machines measuring over 120 metres each will be launched at a site by the M25 to bore 10 miles underneath the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire.

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A tunnel boring machine (TBM)  is used to excavate tunnels through a variety of soil and rock in dense urban areas and to reduce environmental impacts in rural areas.

Thirty six miles of the high-speed line route from London to Birmingham will be in tunnels and our first two TBMs are currently being assembled in a factory in Germany. They will be transported to the launch site later in the year.

Tradition dictates that in order to keep the tunnellers safe underground, TBMs are given a female name before they are launched.

Modern TBMs typically consist of the rotating cutting wheel, called a cutter head, followed by a main bearing, a thrust system and trailing support mechanisms.

Naming Competition

Earlier this year, we engaged with local schools in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Hillingdon  and asked students to put forward names of women who have made their mark on history through their achievements. The women below were shortlisted and we now want you to vote for your favourite name for our machines.

Cast your votes now

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was an Astronomer and Astrophysicist from Buckinghamshire.  She attended Cambridge University, then became Chair of Astronomy at Harvard.  She was the first person to properly ‘read’ a temperature on stars. She also discovered that stars are made mainly from hydrogen and helium.

Nominated by: Chalfont Community College, Buckinghamshire because:

“Cecilia was born locally to the C1 Project being from Buckinghamshire. Cecilia is an inspiration and made an amazing, life-changing decision; to do something she actually wanted to do and became famous for her work.”

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing who came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for the wounded.

Nominated by: The Meadow Special Needs School, Hillingdon because:

“She was a nurse who campaigned her whole life for funding for her charity which provided health care and hospitals for poor people before we had the NHS.”

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields.

Nominated by: Maple Cross Primary School, Hertfordshire because:

“Marie was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in two different scientific fields, her work really helped medicine and helped at the time of War. All this when she found hard to get educated due to her being a woman.”