The UK’s HS2 high-speed project has reached the halfway point of boring the 54.8 mile long network of tunnels that form the new line connecting London and the West Midlands. 

HS2 Ltd, the public body responsible for the project, said that two of the five twin-bore tunnels being bored have completed excavation with another two “well underway”, totalling around 29 miles of tunnels completed. 

UK Rail Minister Huw Merriman said: “Reaching this impressive milestone on a project of HS2’s scale shows just how much momentum is behind construction of the line, which, once complete, will have a transformative impact on rail travel for generations to come.” 

So far, the project has seen its Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) finish boring both drives of the 10-mile Chiltern Tunnel and both drives of the one-mile Long Itchington Wood Tunnel. 

Meanwhile, four TBMs are currently working on the 8.4-mile Northolt Tunnel and another two are partway through the first drive of the Bromford Tunnel. 

The final tunnel awaiting work to start is the Euston Tunnel between Old Oak Common (OOC) and Euston in central London, which was delayed after the UK Government decided to focus on launching services to OOC first, with HS2 saying the government was “exploring different funding mechanisms for delivery of the tunnel”. 

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The construction update will be especially welcome for the project which has faced repeated criticism and complications since it was approved in parliament in 2017, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak famously scrapping the second section of the line between Birmingham and Manchester in 2023. 

Earlier this year, the UK’s Public Accounts Committee also said that the project’s new form, without the connection to Manchester, currently offered “very poor value for money” and claimed the Department for Transport did not yet understand “how HS2 will operate as a functioning railway.” 

Including the tunnels, the project will see the installation of 140 miles of track, four new stations, and 130 bridges, with £11bn of contracts let so far.