IMAGES have been shared of the first two giant Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) that will excavate the twin-bore Chiltern tunnel on the first phase of HS2 high-speed rail link.

The names, Florence and Cecilia, were suggested by students at Meadow High School in Royal Lane, Hillingdon, and The Chalfonts Community College, Bucks, and were inspired by scientific and medical pioneers.

Around 4,500 people from across the UK took part in the poll to select the final names, with Florence taking 40% of the vote and Cecilia 32%.

The schools are close to HS2’s South Portal site, from where the first tunnel boring machines will launch early next year.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “It is fitting they bear the names of two iconic women from this area whose achievements remain famous today.”

The 2,000-ton machines will be shipped in pieces from Germany and begin digging the 10-mile Chiltern tunnel next year. Spoil from the work will be used for landscaping on-site, removing the need for additional HGVs on the roads.