Teenagers from a school in Great Missenden gave a mini tunnelling machine a famous royal name after they visited the Chiltern HS2 building site last week.

The Year 8 pupils from The Misbourne school were shown around the site at the north portal Chiltern Tunnel building site between South Heath and Great Missenden on April 26.

They witnessed the arrival of the 8.9m long mini Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), which still weights 19 tonnes, and is used to dig a drainage tunnel for the record long high speed railway Chiltern tunnel.

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The 12-and 13-year-olds suggested naming the impressive machine Lizzie after the most well-known royal, Queen Elizabeth, who celebrated her 96th birthday in April.

Helen Hill, Business and Economics Teacher at The Misbourne said: “Five of the students with shortlisted entries received the opportunity to see the TBM up close and investigate the roles of the workers involved in the programme. 

Bucks Free Press: Lizzie is 8.9 meters long (Credit: John Zammit/HS2 Ltd)Lizzie is 8.9 meters long (Credit: John Zammit/HS2 Ltd)

“We see HS2 developments every day as we travel to school but it's good for the students to understand the careers available in a local growth industry."

Measuring 16 km (10 miles) in length, the Chiltern Tunnel is the longest tunnel of the HS2 route between London and Crewe.

Lizzie the TBM is a miniature version of the 170 meter machines Florence and Cecilia currently used to excavate the Chiltern Tunnel under the Chilterns Hills from M25 near Chalfont St Peter (South Portal) and South Heath (North Portal).

Lizzie digs up a 300-meter drainage tunnel to support the main tunnel.

The engineering company EKFB ran a practical engineering workshop for older The Misbourne school students, and students get a chance to find out about civil engineering as a career, Ms Hill said.

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She said: “Students can't know of a career they may like to pursue (e.g. Civil Engineer) until they have an understanding what that role entails. 

“How many of us knew what a Civil Engineer did when we were at school?”

Lizzie will both excavate and line the tunnel with 120 concrete jacking pipes at a speed of around 5m per day.

While Lizzie’s larger cousins Florence and Cecilia each have a crew of up to 17 people, just six people operate Lizzie.

HS2 Ltd’s Project Client Rohan Perin said: “With construction now well underway, it’s great to be able to welcome students from The Misbourne to site and hopefully inspire them to look at careers in science and technology.

“Lizzie may be significantly smaller than our other TBMs, but she will still play a vital role in the delivery of the new railway.”

A second miniature boring machine named Marsha, after an African-American gay and transgender rights activist Marsha P Johnson, will be launched later in May.

The first mile under the Chilterns has been completed, HS2 said.