Tunnel Boring Machines

By Completely Blogger | January 24, 2022
Tunnel boring machine

The Importance of Tunnel Boring Machines to UK’s Infrastructure

With the advent of technology, tunnel boring machines (TBM) have often been linked to adaptability and innovation, especially in product design and the production process.

The product range offers versatility when it comes to TBM capability to be used in standard TBM mode or EPB (Earth Pressure Balance) mode, as the latter encounters more challenging ground conditions, especially because of the microtunnelling techniques.

The TBM mode utilises a conveyor belt whereas in EPB mode, foams and slurry are mixed with the evacuated spoils in the mixture chamber.

Then, the spoils are passed to a screw conveyor to remove muck, without having to reprocess slurry.

Regardless, these machines are often designed with high torque and extreme cutting power and can accommodate interchangeable cutting heads to alternate between soft ground, rock and mixed face among others.



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Upon arrival, the enormous machine is meticulously reassembled and vigorously tested before it is commissioned by a qualified expert team of experienced tunnelling engineers.

That is only when they can begin to work on whatever project they were ordered for in the first place, such as high-speed rail projects.

TBMs are used in projects that involve boring long tunnels and they form the first part of the construction project.

They work well on underground projects, sometimes working 24/7 to complete some projects in time for the grand launch. Projects can take up to several years to complete depending on extensiveness, budget, manpower, availability of expertise, and more.


Tunnel boring machine


Each TBM machine operates what looks like a self-contained underground factory to ensure the digging of tunnels align with concrete wall segments and deliver on project objectives.

Depending on the number of segments a tunnel requires, engineers move with a speed of several metres a day to meet the project’s deadline.

Segments are made on site and project crew members operate the TBM, often working in shifts to ensure the machine keeps running 24/7 and unnecessary delays are avoided.

Several people often support the project on the surface by managing logistics and other operations that support the project just to ensure the smooth running of the tunnelling process.



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TBMs continue to be instrumental in the delivery of a high-speed railway to facilitate the movement of goods and people from one area of the UK to another.

Construction projects continue in the UK, with thousands of jobs supported by TBM projects, both directly and indirectly.

Major tunnelling projects often invest in upskilling of local individuals who are currently feeling the impact of unemployment, especially women, young people, and people with disabilities.



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So, tunnel boring machines (TBMs) play a significant role in the development of infrastructure across the UK.

They have helped to link different parts of the UK by facilitating the construction of megaprojects such as railway lines that connect people with places and products with markets.

They have also created jobs for thousands of individuals both directly and indirectly.

Tunnelling engineers have a great responsibility of ensuring the projects are completed according to specifications and using the highest industry standards.

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