THE next phase of tunnelling for the high-speed HS2 rail line, from West Ruislip to Greenford, was launched today (6).

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston was joined by teacher Sushila Hirani - after whom one of the boring machines is named - as it began its five-mile journey.  

A second borer, named after 18th century astronomer Caroline Herschel, will be launched from the West Ruislip site this year to build the second of HS2’s twin-bore tunnels towards London.  

Each weighing 2,000 tons and measuring more than a football pitch in length, the machines will bore five miles non-stop for 22 months, except Christmas Day and bank holidays, to Greenpark Way in Greenford. There, they will be dismantled and lifted from the ground.  

Separately, two other massive borers will set off towards Greenpark Way from HS2’s Victoria Road site next year to build a further 3.4-mile twin-bore tunnel.

Together, the quartet of machines will build 8.4miles of twin-bored tunnels between West Ruislip and Old Oak Common.     

A further tunnel from Old Oak to Euston will complete HS2’s journey to its London terminus.  

Each machine is operated by 15 people, working in shifts. A team of around 40 assembled them, with 56 companies involved in getting the site ready and machines launched. 

Children from Dairy Meadow Primary School in Swift Road, Southall, and Brentside Primary Academy in Kennedy Road, Hanwell, helped name the giant machines after taking part in workshops.

The one launched today, Sushila, is named after head of department and lead for STEM at Greenford High School.

Willow class at Dairy Meadow suggested the name due to her inspiring work and passion for getting more women and young people from BAME backgrounds into STEM subjects.   

Sushila has been a teacher for nearly 30 years and her involvement in infrastructure projects includes the Waterside housing development in Southall.  

She admitted: “I was very surprised that the Willow class put my name forward for this honour.

“I have always had a passion for industrial design and engineering. If this event helps young people connect with engineering and inspires them, then my small contribution here has been worthwhile.”  

The second borer, Caroline, named after the astronomer, was nominated by pupils at Brentside Primary.