The first images have been revealed by HS2 showing work on the site of a new tunnel which will carry the high-speed rail line through north Warwickshire.
The Long Itchington Wood Tunnel north portal site, south east of Leamington Spa, is one of the project’s largest construction sites in the Midlands.
New photos and drone footage (see video above) have been released by HS2 as the site is being prepared for the launch of a tunnel boring machine.
It will dig under Long Itchington Wood to create a one-mile twin bore tunnel before the route heads north and calls in at stations in Solihull and Birmingham city centre.
This site is managed by the Balfour Beatty and Vinci Construction joint venture which is set to undergo a major recruitment drive in the Midlands over the next two years for an expected 7,000 roles.
There are currently 60 workers on site including student engineers and apprentices.
Current work entails a large and deep excavation, with 8.8 million ft3 of material being excavated in layers before being transported and deposited locally to form environmental embankments for the main line.
The 2,000-tonne tunnel boring machine, which has been manufactured in Germany, is due for delivery on site in early 2021 and will be launched in the summer.
Completion of the boring will be in mid-2022 and the tunnel will be around 32 feet in diameter.
On this stretch of the route there are two tunnels being built by the JV – the other is the Bromford Tunnel in the Castle Bromwich district of north Birmingham.
There will also be 100 bridges, 35 viaducts, 36 cuttings and 70 bridge structures.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “It’s exciting to see construction of HS2 under way.
“These works will not only deliver a world-class, high-speed railway improving connectivity across the Midlands and beyond but will have a lasting impact on jobs, skills and businesses here in the UK.”
It will take around five months to complete the first bore of the twin-bore tunnel.