Construction of the London HS2 project to Commence soon
Construction of the London HS2 project Super-hub in West London which will provide a world-class interchange for an estimated 250,000 passengers each day is set to commence soon. The Super-hub will be a gateway into Old Oak and Park Royal, one of the largest regeneration sites in the country.
The station’s design development was led by engineering professional services consultancy WSP, and architects WilkinsonEyre. Submission is the next stage in the development of the Old Oak Common site.
The local community and wider general public were previously consulted on the designs for the station in 2019, through a series of formal public engagement events. Plans for the transformation of the wider area around the station, a former railway and industrial site, are being led by Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) and they expect that the area around the new HS2 station will become a neighborhood with a potential to create tens of thousands of homes and jobs.
The new station
The new station will incorporate passenger and retail facilities, providing an exemplary customer experience for all passengers and visitors to the station. It will provide direct interchange with conventional rail services throughout 8 conventional train platforms, to be served by the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), taking passengers to Heathrow Airport and Central London.
Designs for the station show that the 6 high-speed platforms will be situated underground with an integrated connection to the adjoining conventional station at ground level through a stylish shared overbridge. A light and airy foyer will link both halves of the station, unified by a vast roof inspired by the site’s industrial heritage.
To the west of the station, above the HS2 platforms, there are plans for a new public park, a green space that will welcome visitors to Old Oak Common and provide a new focal point for the ever-growing community. Work at Old Oak Common to prepare for construction of the station has been ongoing since 2017 and the site is almost ready to be handed over to the London HS2 Super-hub station construction partner, Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra JV (BBVS) who were awarded the contract last September.
OPDC approves plan for Old Oak Common HS2 High-Speed Rail Project station in London, UK
The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has approved the planning application for the Old Oak Common HS2 station project in West London. The green light means that work can progress on building what will be the largest new railway station ever built in the UK. The station will have 14 platforms, a mix of six high-speed and eight conventional service platforms, with an 850m long station box, with a volume to fit 6,300 Routemaster buses.
The Old Oak Common HS2 station will incorporate some striking design features, such as an impressive sequence of interlocking curved roof forms which has been designed to enhance the open environment of the station and provide natural ventilation minimizing the need for long-term energy consumption. The arch forms also reduce the need for columns to support the roof and provide clear sightlines, allowing views across the station to help visitors orientate themselves. The station design development has been led by engineering professional services consultancy WSP with architectural support from WilkinsonEyre.
Largest new railway station in the UK
When operational, the station will be used by up to an estimated 250,000 passengers each day and is set to become one of the busiest railway stations in the country. It will provide seamless connectivity with conventional rail services through eight conventional train platforms, to be served by the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), Heathrow Express, and trains to Wales and the West of England.
The station design has a sufficiently sized concourse and platform space to accommodate passenger growth to 2041 and beyond, provision of a dedicated bus and taxi facility, dedicated drop-off and pickup areas, pedestrian and cycle links, and upgraded highway infrastructure comprising new traffic signalized junctions.
New public spaces are also being created as part of the design including a new public square directly outside the station. It will include seating and cycle parking and could also be used as a setting for public artwork.
The HS2 station will be a catalyst and gateway for Old Oak and Park Royal, one of the largest regeneration sites in the UK. Plans to transform the wider area around the station, a former railway and industrial site, are being led by the OPDC and they project that the area around the new HS2 station will become a neighborhood with the potential to create tens of thousands of homes and jobs.
Construction of the US $141bn HS2 High-Speed Rail Project in the UK starts
Construction of the HS2 high-speed rail line has formally begun. The line is expected to connect London to the West Midlands and will create approximately 22,000 new jobs as claimed by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The PM was expected to attend a ceremonial launch of the first shovels in the ground for the main civil engineering contracts. The contracts to build the first phase of the line, including viaducts, tunnels, and stations at Euston and Old Oak Common, were signed off by the Treasury during the lockdown after the government approved the controversial US $141bn projects in February. The company HS2 Ltd said most of the work to date had been preparatory, including design, ground clearance, and demolition.
Johnson, who briefly threw the project in doubt when becoming PM, after promising a review amid increasing concerns over escalating costs, said HS2 was “at the heart of our plans to build back better”, and would create 22,000 construction jobs. He added: “HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.” HS2’s main works contractor for the West Midlands, a Balfour Beatty-Vinci joint venture, expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the region over the next two years, looking for up to 7,000 skilled workers.
Contracts to build stations, tunnels and viaducts will produce another 10,000 vacancies in greater London, HS2 said. The first phase of the line, linking London and Birmingham, is expected to cost up to £45bn, according to the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd’s estimates, with full services now expected to begin running from Euston as late as 2036, although first high-speed trains might appear by 2029. The eventual completion of the second phase, completing a Y-shaped network to Manchester and Leeds, remains in some doubt.
HS2 uses new pioneering low-carbon concrete to reduce carbon emissions in construction
As part of its ambition to build the most sustainable high-speed railway in the world, HS2 contractors in London have begun using a new low-carbon concrete product that provides a reduction of 42% in CO2 in comparison to standard concrete.
In addition, the remaining carbon emissions from using the concrete are offset to provide a CarbonNeutral® product, in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol. The product, used for the first time in London, has been supplied to HS2’s enabling works contractor, Costain Skanska joint venture, and Lydon Contracting Ltd by global building materials manufacturer CEMEX, from their plant based in Wembley.
After engineering carbon reductions into the concrete mix design, CEMEX calculates the embodied carbon generated from the extraction and processing of raw materials, product manufacturing, and distribution. The residual carbon is then offset, making the concrete carbon neutral from manufacture to use.
To achieve carbon neutrality, carbon is offset by the removal or reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. CEMEX facilitates this by investing in projects which physically remove CO2 where possible from the atmosphere, such as planting more trees or protecting against deforestation through an independently audited and verified project. This is done in accordance with international standards for carbon neutrality.
The first use of the Vertua Classic Zero concrete in the capital recently took place at an HS2 site in North West London, ready to prepare the ground for an electricity substation that will power the tunnel boring machines excavating HS2’s London tunnels. A further delivery of Vertua is planned at the same site by the end of October. By using this low-carbon concrete, a total of 12 tonnes of carbon should be saved once deliveries are complete, with an additional 17 tonnes of residual CO2 offset.
Discussions are continuing as to how this technology can be adopted on further sites across the HS2 route.
HS2 aims to build the most sustainable high-speed railway in the world and is driving innovation in design, construction, and operation to minimize its entire carbon footprint. In order to become the UK’s most environmentally responsible infrastructure project, HS2 has set a carbon reduction target of 50% target for its contractors on construction baselines for Phase One civil assets (such as tunnels, viaducts, and cuttings), stations, and railway systems.
According to Peter Miller, Environment Director, HS2 Ltd, they know that climate change is the greatest long-term threat to Britain’s security and prosperity. The Government has set a target for net-zero emissions by 2050 and HS2 is playing its part in meeting that challenge. “Using innovative techniques and products in the construction of the new high-speed railway, we can not only build HS2 more sustainably, but we can lead by example, showing how the construction sector can help deliver Britain’s cleaner greener future,” he said.
HS2 High-Speed Rail Project secures planning approval for Interchange station in Solihull, UK
HS2 has secured planning approval from the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for the Interchange station to be constructed at Solihull, in the UK. The planning application for the station and the surrounding landscape and public realm, along with the Automated People Mover, was approved by the Council.
The station, which will be at the heart of the HS2 network in the Midlands, recently became the first railway station globally to achieve the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification at the design stage – a measure of sustainability for new and refurbished buildings – putting it in the top 1% of buildings in the UK for eco-friendly credentials.
The HS2 Interchange station design
The Council’s planning team said that the design of the station “draws upon the historic and agricultural character of the local area and delivers a strong sense of place and identity through its architectural form and the design of its landscape.”
The station’s design makes use of renewable technologies, and in operation, the station will use natural ventilation, daylight, harvested rainwater, and solar energy to cut carbon. The Automated People Mover will link to the NEC, Birmingham International Station, and Birmingham Airport, carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction, with a service every three minutes along a 2.3km route.
According to HS2’s Stations Director Matthew Botelle, they are extremely pleased to receive approval for the design of the Interchange station, which will be net-zero carbon in operation, and adopts the latest eco-friendly design and sustainable technologies.
“The operation of our stations will play a key role in the UK’s fight against climate change and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Our architects and engineers have worked together with landscape architects, soil scientists, ecologists, and water specialists to develop a truly unique, landscape-led, contextual proposition that draws on the local Arden setting for its inspiration, with lots of new habitats for wildlife,” he said.
He further added that they have also worked with local stakeholders to design a station that considers future major growth plans around the site. These are being led by the Urban Growth Company and will support 70,000 new and existing jobs, 5,000 new homes, and 650,000m2 of commercial space across the UK Central Hub, generating £6.2bn GVA per year and bringing 1.3m people to within a 45-minute public transport commute of the station,” said Mr. Botelle.
World’s first solar & hydrogen-powered cabins cut carbon at HS2 construction sites.
AJC Trailers, a British company, has designed, manufactured, and supplied the world’s first solar & hydrogen-powered cabins that have been rolled out across the HS2 construction site in the United Kingdom in an effort to make the sites greener. The EasyCabin EcoSmart ZERO product is the world’s first solar and hydrogen-powered welfare unit, combining solar and hydrogen power to eliminate carbon emissions from construction sites, and is set to be rolled out further across the HS2 project.
Data gathered from 16 Ecosmart ZERO cabins over a 21-week period on HS2 sites in Camden, Ruislip, and Uxbridge showed that 112 tonnes of carbon were saved – the equivalent of what would be absorbed by over 3,367 trees over a whole year. In comparison, a standard diesel generator running would have used 40,000 liters of diesel fuel.
Hydrogen technology has been developed by scientists at Loughborough University. With zero emissions, solar and hydrogen power replaces traditional diesel power systems and reduces the overall carbon footprint of a construction site, and more importantly, improve the environment for communities in the vicinity of operation. The unit is near silent and emits only pure water vapor. The cabins provide a kitchen, seating area, separate toilet, and changing room for workers, with the power to run the heating, sockets, kettle, and microwave coming instantly from the battery bank which is constantly fed by the built-in hydrogen fuel cell and solar panels.
HS2’s Minister comments at the site when he paid a visit were: “as we build back better from Covid-19, it is great to see how HS2 Ltd is using first-class solar and hydrogen-powered staff welfare pods to cut carbon emissions while supporting workers on its construction sites. Not only are these British-made pods supporting hundreds of jobs, but it is a great example of how HS2 is realizing our ambition to be one of the most environmentally-responsible projects ever delivered in the UK, as we transition to carbon net-zero by 2050.”
High Speed 2’s (HS2’s) Euston Station Development in London, UK
High Speed 2’s (HS2’s) Euston Station is a railway station development, particularly the transformation of Euston Station (the sixth busiest railway station in Britain, the southern terminus of the West Coast Mainline, and the busiest passenger route in Britain) into a modern transport hub that will provide high-speed rail services from London, UK, to the Midlands, the north and Scotland.
The project is part of the High Speed 2 (HS2) Railway Project, a new high-speed railway line that is being developed between London and the West Midlands.
The High Speed 2’s (HS2’s) Euston Station development includes the construction of 11 new high-speed platforms that will be situated below street level and a 25,260 square meters station that will be fronted with a new 38 m glass façade, one of the proposed three new entrances that will transform the station into a light and airy destination with provision for public spaces, including shops, restaurants, and cafes.
As part of the project, the existing platforms and concourses will also be renovated, and the London Underground facilities enhanced by adding new spaces and a new ticket hall that will be four times larger than the existing one. In addition, a subway to Euston Square station will provide direct access to the station for the first time ever, and access to taxis, cycles, and buses will be improved.
The project began in 2017 and it is set to be implemented in two phases the first of which is scheduled for completion in 2026, and the second in 2033.
Ove Arup & Partners International
HS2 Ltd to build the Birmingham Interchange Station
HS2 Ltd has announced the shortlist of bidders for the tender to develop the eco-friendly Birmingham Interchange Station at the center of the UK’s latest High Speed 2 (HS2) railway in Solihull. Laing O’Rourke, Skanska and Unity, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick joint venture supported by WSP were invited to tender.
The scheme’s procurement for the contract was started in June and was originally billed at £270M, which later exceeded £100M to £370M. The winner of the contract will design the station before construction starts and takes shape after a few years. The scheme is set to create 1,000 jobs, a major economic boost to the residents and businesses in the Midlands. The wider project regeneration opportunities will support 30,000 and almost 3,000 new homes and 70,000m2 of commercial space.
The interchange station.
The Birmingham Interchange Station site covers an area of 150ha which is situated within a triangle of land created by the M42, A45, and A452. Development so far has comprised modular bridge construction over the M42 and A446 and revamping of the road network in the area to help access the news station. This acknowledges the station’s eco-friendly characteristics including enhancing natural daylight and ventilation, a station roof that can collect and reuse rainwater, and other attributes to enable net-zero carbon emissions from daily energy consumption. Energy-efficient technology such as air source heat pumps and LED lighting will also be incorporated.
The great development around the Birmingham Interchange Station, led by the Urban Growth Company, will offer 30,000 jobs and almost 3,000 new homes, and 70,000m2 of commercial space. These will establish part of the UK Central Hub area plans for 5,000 new homes, 70,000 jobs, and 650,000m2 of commercial area, bringing about £6.2bn GVA per year and 1.3M people with a 45-minute public transport station commute. The tender will be awarded in 2022.
Firms shortlisted for HS2 phase 2a UK High-speed rail development
Six firms have been shortlisted for the tender on a major two-part enabling works contract for the HS2 phase 2a route from the West Midlands to Crewe. The £240m contracts will be developed for three years. It splits work on the route into two different packages with one contractor working on the northern sections while the other contractor working on the southern part.
With the similarity of the scope of the northern and southern contracts, bidders must bid for both contracts but will win only one package due to capacity and resilience reasons. Shortlisted bidders include BAM Nuttall, Galliford Try, Graham, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, and Skanska The works will compromise environmental mitigation, land assembly, the establishment of haul routes and site’s compound, and preparing the line’s trace all of which will help rapid mobilization and the commencement of Main Civils Works in Summer of 2024. Civil Advanced Works is due to start in 2022 Autumn.
The tendering announcement follows HS2 Phase 2a Design and Delivery Partner (DDP) search when it was published in June the PQQ for the £500m tenders. The DDP package winning bidder will work with HS2 to lead the development of the 36-mile line, including coordinating and managing key contracts for offering the railway’s detailed design and construction. The route will compromise 65 bridges, 17 viaducts, and tracks along the route extending from Phase One in the Midlands to the southern outskirts of Crewe.
Ruth Todd, the HS2 chief commercial officer, stated: “Extending the Phase 2a line to Crewe will create 6,500 construction jobs and offer new infrastructure that lowers the capacity on the West Coast railway and shortens trip times together with a better passenger experience.” When fully complete, from Crewe to London Euston will take a journey time of 56 minutes. Currently, the journey takes a period of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
HS2 to construct a concrete tunnel segment factory in UK
A precast HS2 concrete tunnel segment factory is being developed at an oil rig fabrication site located in Hartpool. The development is set to create more than 100 new jobs. Strabag, Austria’s biggest construction company will construct the facility which will fulfill a 36,000-segment contract for their joint venture with Costain Skanska constructing twin bored tunnels between HS2’s new Old Oak Common station and Green Parkway running underneath Northolt.
Situated at Hartlepool Dock, the facility will be owned and operated by PD Ports. The HS2 concrete tunnel segment factory construction will start in January 2022 with the production of 6-tonne precast concrete tunnel segments starting by December 2022.
The concrete tunnel segment facility.
Work will begin by revamping the exterior land parcel to fit the segment storage requirements and platform of the rail logistics. Then focus will shift to the internal fit-out which will accommodate a reinforcement hall and an advanced automated segment carousel. Additionally, robots will be commanded by telemetry to produce the high-quality reinforcement cages needed for every segment. The HS2’s chief commercial officer, Ruth Todd, stated: “The plan of manufacturing the segments not only in the United Kingdom but in a modern facility in the North East, is another proof of how HS2 is positively impacting the regional economies in the UK and helping the country to regain strength after the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Commercial Director at Strabag, Andrew Dixon, added that the new production facility in Hartlepool and the existing precast factory located at Wilton for the Woodsmith Mine scheme underline the long-term commitment to the region. The HS2 concrete tunnel segment factory tender is the second of two for HS2’s London tunnels on the concrete tunnel segments. Approximately 58,000 segments will be delivered by Pacadar UK for the first London tunnel under construction from West Ruislip to Green Park Way, in Ealing. The total length of HS2’s London tunnels being built by SCS JV is 26miles, which is the same length as Crossrail.
HS2 reduces Euston Station Terminus to save cost.
HS2 is reducing the planned Euston station terminus in an effort to save costs and programme time. The station will now slim to a simpler 10-platform design from the earlier planned 11 platforms. This will lead to the station’s main contractor joint venture Mace Dragados to construct the £2.6bn Euston station terminus in a single stage, rather than the planned two stages.
The plans are far less dramatic than some in the industry feared after a 15-month review seeking efficiency opportunities and cost-saving options, depending in part on the scope of the HS2 northern route, specifically the future of the eastern leg. Andrew Stephenson, the HS2 minister revealed the new idea in a six-month update to Parliament. He stated that the changes will ease pressure on the £400m budget already identified at Euston. Stephenson added that the exact savings would be pointed out as the updated design is developed in the coming months.
Euston station terminus efficiency.
“Responding to a recommendation about enquiring the efficiency of the Euston station, the move to a smaller, simpler 10-platform design at Euston station terminus has now been confirmed,” “This will offer a more efficient design and delivery strategy and play a vital role in mitigating the affordability pressures recently spotted. “Moving to the revised HS2 Euston station design keeps the station infrastructure capacity to run 17 trains in an hour, as set out in the full business case of Phase One.”
He also highlighted potential minor delays in the southern part of the line leading into Old Oak Common from outer London. HS2 is currently having a future potential cost pressure of almost £1.3bn in comparison with £0.8 billion six months ago. The total budget for Phase One, including the Euston station terminus, remains £44.6bn. This is composed of the target cost of £40.3bn and the government-retained contingency of £4.3bn.
HS2 new train station in Leeds to be constructed
The construction of a new train station in Leeds is also part of the government’s plans for the High Speed 2 (HS2). Despite claims that the eastern leg of the railway would significantly get scaled back. It seems the government has now backpedaled on the idea that it would axe the whole eastern leg, but will still be making notable cuts.
The new station in Leeds will be constructed and new HS2 rails joining it to South Yorkshire are still on plan. However, the line’s capacity will be reduced by the new suggestion of using previous rails between South Yorkshire and the Midlands. Industry experts have once more highlighted the eastern leg being “the most crucial part” of the scheme as it offers a lot towards the government’s “leveling up” plan.
Axing the Eastern leg of the HS2
In September, industry officials, including the High-Speed Rail Group and the Railway Industry Association members, penned an open letter to the prime minister alerting that axing the eastern leg would be a “devastating impact on confidence in the sector”. The letter indicated that a lot of people have already started investing in the area based on the promise of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), which will link northern cities like Leeds and Manchester.
The Treasury was also the victim of a backlash from Tory MPs in the “red wall” area who have established promises to their constituents based on the delivery of the schemes after recent suggestions that the eastern leg of HS2 would be scrapped and NPR notably scaled back.
The new train station in Leeds savior is likely from the backlash and mostly because it is intertwined with the NPR development. The new Leeds station is most likely to be a terminus instead of a through the station, despite the National Infrastructure Commission spotlighting the added value a through station would bring in regional connection.
HS2 develops first ‘box-slide’ bridge over motorway
Balfour Beatty Vinci, the HS2, the joint venture has begun preparations for the first UK box slide for a rail bridge over a motorway. The Midlands scheme was originally planned as a traditional structure, which would have meant significant traffic disruption for the motorists, with around two years of slim lane widths, 50mph speed limits, and night and weekend night closures.
Now the team will construct the whole UK box slide structure on land next to the motorway in enthusiasm to jack the 10,000t box into place in one movement. The ‘Marston Box’ bridge slide near the Junction 9 of M42 in North Warwickshire will be achieved in just two one-week closures of the motorway on a 12-month construction time.
HS2 box slide bridge construction
The M42 will be shut for a week for the first stage of preparation work from Christmas to New Year 2022, with an aim to move the structure into place during a week’s closure during winter 2022. In order to perform this, a reinforced concrete slab will be built to act as a guided raft, with the box constructed at the top. The box will later be pushed by a jacking system run by the structural engineering company Freyssinet, which can shift the box at speeds of more than 2m per hour. At that speed, the operation may take like four days.
The method also dramatically boosts the safety and health of the workforce, who won’t have to work in close proximity to a live carriageway. David Speight, HS2 Client Project Director, stated: “At HS2 we’re always planning for innovative ways to lower our effects on local communities, and this UK first box slide offers a quicker and safer solution. “We’re working very closely with the National Highways to make sure traffic management plans are set in place, with a well-signed diversion route to lower any effects during the motorway closure.”
HS2 completes the first of 56 piers for Colne Valley Viaduct
The first of 56 piers required to support HS2’s Colne Valley Viaduct has been constructed. When complete, the viaduct will have a length of 3.4km, becoming the longest rail bridge in England. Work is being conducted by Align JV, a joint venture comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick, and Sir Robert McAlpine, operating in partnership with Kilnbridge. The viaduct will support the high-speed trains from the outskirts of Hillingdon to the M25 on their way to Birmingham and the north.
Weighing almost 370 tonnes, the 6m tall reinforced concrete pier was set on-site by a team of engineers who deployed a specially-designed formwork to produce the shape of the structure. It was later removed after four days to display the final product.
The Colne Valley Viaduct Construction.
Each pier is modeled to support the full weight of the deck above and the other batch of concrete piles going up to 55m into the ground. This foundation work started earlier in 2021 and will need 292 piles and 56 pile caps to be constructed across the whole part of the Colne Valley Viaduct. In the section where the viaduct crosses the lake, the piles will be bored directly into the lakebed by the use of a cofferdam to hold back the water while the pier is built. The main deck of the viaduct is to be constructed in 1,000 separate unique segments at a temporary factory in the neighborhood before assembling from north to south, starting in 2022.
As part of a push across the whole HS2 scheme to cut carbon in construction, the design and construction teams working on the Colne Valley viaduct have also cut the amount of embedded carbon in the viaduct by almost a third. This has been achieved by narrowing the width of the structure and applying lessons for the design of high-speed railway bridges in Europe.
HS2 launches the first Midlands Tunnel Boring Machine
High-speed 2 contractor BBV has introduced the first tunnel boring machine on the Midlands part of the high-speed rail route. A number of around 170 engineers have been constructing and assembling the 2,000 tonnes, 125m-long TBM.
An expert tunneling crew will now be assigned duties around the clock in shifts to run TBM Dorothy for a duration of five months as it excavates the first bore of a one-mile tunnel at Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire. It will become the first HS2 tunnel to be completed on the scheme, with the machine to break through the first bore at the south portal during the Spring of next year. The tunnel boring machine will later be dismantled and transferred back to the north portal to excavate the other bore, which is set to be completed in early 2023.
Shaping the infrastructure landscape
The machine will dig mudstone and soil averaging a total of 250,000 cubic meters which will be taken to the on-site slurry treatment facility where the materials are separated out before being reused on embankments and landscaping on the route.
The Balfour Beatty VINCI Managing Director, Michael Dyke stated: “As Dorothy, the cutting-edge tunnel boring machine, starts on her one-mile journey, our duty along the northern section of HS2 is still progressing at pace. “In the next few months, we’ll be developing our efforts to recruit the 7,000 people needed across the Midlands to help us shape the future of the UK’s infrastructure landscape; those who will see their hard work enjoyed for years to come.” In total there will be 10 HS2 tunnel boring machines in the first phase, working to excavate 64 miles of the tunnel from London to the West Midlands for Britain’s high-speed rail scheme.
Construction of HS2 High-Speed Rail Project’s Colne Valley Viaduct gets Underway
HS2 High-Speed Rail Project’s Colne Valley Viaduct construction is now underway. Production of the precast concrete deck segments for the Colne Valley Viaduct has begun. Being constructed by HS2’s contractor Align, the UK’s longest rail bridge will run 2.1 miles (3.4km) across a number of waterways and lakes just inside the M25 to the west of London and is being constructed from 1,000 concrete pieces weighing up to 140 tonnes each.
They are made in a non-permanent purpose-built factory with a length of 100 meters, within Align’s huge site field near Maple Cross. Every piece is a bit different in shape. During the peak of construction, approximately 12 pieces will be cast weekly using a ‘match-casting’ method. The method is where every piece is poured against the previous one, which will make sure the entire arch fits after reassembling on site.
Colne Valley Viaduct will be one of the most striking constituents of HS2
At the same site, Align – a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick – is also constructing two-bore 16km tunnels under the Chilterns, being part of the £1.6bn (Apr20 prices) HS2 tender. All 56,000 tunnel lining segments are being made in a separate production hall on-site. Whilst the viaduct deck segments and tunnel lining segments are made, the 56 viaduct piers that hold the deck are cast in site by Kilnbridge. The first pier was cast in December last year.
Daniel Altier, the Align project director stated: “Seeing the cast of the first deck segments in the factory marks a critical milestone for the scheme. The viaduct is designed in a way that each segment will be distinct, offering a structure that with no doubt will be one of the most striking constituents of HS2 upon completion. I would like to appreciate all the Align team and the supply chain partners that have allowed us to get to this far and in particular VSL, Danny Sullivan, Sendin as well as Tarmac.”
New Euston terminus concept designs unveiled
HS2 has unveiled new Euston terminus concept designs based on a simpler, more efficient 10-platform station that can now be built in a single stage. Mace Dragados JV, HS2’s station construction partner, collaborated with Arup, WSP, and Grimshaw Architects to improve and value engineer the design to decrease costs.
The original arched station roof has been replaced with a geometric canopy that allows natural light to penetrate the 300-meter-long station concourse below. The new roof design can be manufactured off-site and installed using modular construction techniques, lowering costs, cutting carbon emissions, and minimizing local disruption. The HS2 station will be built on three levels, with ten 450m long subterranean platforms. The station hall, which will be 20% larger than Trafalgar Square, will be the UK’s largest station concourse. Under the top-lit station roof, retail and station facilities will be provided on the ground and first floors.
The new HS2 Euston station design
At its peak, the construction of the HS2 station will support 3,000 jobs, with hundreds of contract opportunities available across the supply chain. MDJV just started a multi-year procurement of £500 million worth of packages for construction on the HS2 station and the London Underground at Euston and Euston Square, which would improve passenger connections.
The design links the HS2 station with the existing Network Rail station and emerging ideas for over-site development, led by Lendlease, taking into consideration the suggestions of the independent Oakervee review. The Government’s selected Master Development Partner at Euston, Lendlease, has begun an 18-month public consultation to gather feedback from the local community on what they would value in the development. ” The new HS2 Euston station design presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish an iconic attraction in the area, which will help us rebuild better by expanding not just London’s but the UK’s economy,” Mr. Stephenson added.
Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire
The first images of the HS2 High-Speed Rail Project’s- longest of three “green tunnels” to be constructed across Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire have been revealed. The tunnel’s construction constitutes the high-speed railways line the first phase from London to the Midlands. The tunnels are designed to help fix the new high-speed rail line into the landscape and lower disruption for residents.
Located in Northamptonshire, the 2.4km long Greatworth tunnel will be constructed in a factory in Derbyshire before being transported to the site where it will be assembled over the railway line as it goes through the village. It will later be covered with soil and landscaped to fit into the neighboring countryside. Construction of similar designs is planned for Chipping Warden and Wendover.
The off-site modular style was selected by HS2’s main works contractor EKFB – comprising of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction, and BAM Nuttall – using the method used for the latest French high-speed lines construction in which Eiffage played major roles. With an ‘m’ shaped double arch design, the tunnel will have twin separate halves for northbound and southbound trains.
The green tunnel design
Five separate concrete precast segments will be fitted together to achieve the double arch – two side walls, two roof slabs, and one central pier. All the 5,400 segments fitted at Greatworth will be reinforced with steel, with the biggest weighing up to 43t.
The director at EKFB delivery Andy Swift stated: “The green tunnel is designed in a combination of international engineering expertise, innovation, and thoughtful landscaping for the local residents to enjoy. Once the tunnels get constructed, the original earth detached from the cutting for the tunnel to go through will be repositioned, offering a green area which will blend into the neighboring landscape.”
Similar developments will also be constructed near Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire and Wendover in Buckinghamshire, extending for a combined length of 6.5km. The tunnels will incorporate specially designed ‘porous portals’ at all ends to lower the noise of trains when entering and exiting the tunnel as well as a mini-portal building to house electrical equipment and safety.
Cost of high-speed 2 rail route to rising by another US$ 2bn+
The cost of the high-speed 2 rail route is poised to rise by another US$ 2bn+, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “HS2 Ltd is suggesting over US$ 2bn of potential future cost problems that are presently appearing across the project,” Mr. Shapps wrote to Parliament.
Among the anticipated cost hikes are:
- US$ 1bn for anticipated additional main works civils expenditures as a result of additional design costs and slower-than-expected progress in some regions.
- An additional US$ 500M towards the expense of refurbishing London’s HS2 Euston station.
- An additional US$ 250M for the expense of replacing infrastructure at Euston and another London station, Old Oak Common.
- A net increase of US$ 396bn in costs “on other areas of the program.
However, despite this, the line is expected to be completed within the estimated time frame because the program includes over US$ 13bn in “contingency reserves” to assist with “risk and uncertainty management.”
According to Mr. Shapps, this projected increase will not even necessitate a budget increase since the project has enough reserve funds.
Base slab construction of HS2 Victoria Road ancillary shaft in Acton completed
The base slab construction of the HS2 Victoria Road ancillary shaft in Acton has been completed by the Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV). The first permanent operations at the site began in February 2021 with the pouring of a 160m3 concrete collar around the ancillary shaft.
They then used precast concrete segments produced by FP McCann Ltd to construct the first 11m of the 25m internal diameter shaft prior to actually completing the last 19 meter depth using the sprayed concrete lining technique.
The crew of roughly 30 engineers and operators have since finished the shaft with a 3.3m thick base slab built in three different pours. The main pour of around 1,000 m3 of concrete occurred towards the end of 2021, with the second and third pours completed by the end of January 2022, adding an additional 740 m3 of concrete.
The Victoria Road site
The site will supply crucial infrastructure for HS2’s operation. In addition to the 25m internal diameter shaft, which will offer ventilation and emergency access to the Northolt Tunnels, SCS JV is constructing a crossover box on the site, which will allow trains to shift tracks as they enter and exit Old Oak Common station.
“The team at Victoria Road has made significant strides, completing the foundation slab of the ancillary shaft and preparing the site for the launch of two tunnel boring machines,” said HS2 Project Client Malcolm Codling. As we progress to the next stage of the project. It won’t be long before we see where the railway will run across the site, bringing our detailed building plans to life.”
“We’re constructing eight ventilation shafts along our 13 miles of twin-bore tunnels in London, and this vent shaft is the first to move to this stage,” said James Richardson, Managing Director of Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture. Work is continuing smoothly at all of our other shaft sites so that the tunnel boring machines may travel through them as our massive tunneling operation advances over the next three years.”
Victoria Road site will be used by the SCS JV to build and launch two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig the 3.4-mile eastern segment of the Northolt tunnels. The TBMs are scheduled to arrive in early 2023 and will begin tunneling later that year on a 12-month program.
A conveyor system will also join the site to the Logistics Hub at the Willesden Euroterminal. The conveyor system, which links the Logistics Hub to the Old Oak Common station site, will be operational later this year and will help to reduce lorry traffic for HS2, taking about 1 million lorries from the road.
Designs revealed for the north portal of the Chiltern Tunnel
HS2 has revealed the designs for the north portal of the Chiltern Tunnel, which has been specially designed to cut noise from trains entering and exiting the project’s longest tunnel at speeds of up to 320km/h. The track will be covered by two perforated concrete hoods, extending the 10-mile-long tunnel into the open air. These porous portals will prevent trains from entering and departing the tunnels causing rapid changes in air pressure and noise. The portals, which will be set low into the terrain between Great Missenden and South Heath in Buckinghamshire, will only be seen from a footbridge across the railway to the north.
To account for the varying levels of air pressure, the portal for trains entering the tunnel will be 220m long, while the gateway for trains departing will be just 135m long. To prevent staining and upkeep, both will have smooth concrete on top and textured concrete to a low level. Along with the portals, a basic single-story auxiliary structure will hold mechanical and electrical equipment. HS2 is presently soliciting community feedback on the final design, which might include a green roof, split louvered, or anodized aluminium façade. The buildings were planned and will be built by Align JV, a collaboration comprised of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick, the principal works contractor for HS2 Ltd.
More on the HS2 Chiltern Tunnel project
Work on the twin-bore tunnels is well underway, with two massive 2,000-tonne tunnel boring machines going north from the south entrance. They arrived last week at Chalfont St Peter and are scheduled to break through at the north entrance in two years.
“Once completed, the Chiltern tunnel will send HS2 trains deep into the Chiltern hills, connecting London with Birmingham and the north, freeing up room on the current mainline for increased freight and local services.” Set low into the landscape and out of sight for most passers-by, the buildings will play an important role in reducing needless noise and housing critical mechanical and electrical equipment,” said David Emms, Project Client for HS2 Ltd.
Final design for High Speed 2 Thame Valley Viaduct revealed
The final design for the Thame Valley Viaduct, which is located within the Northern Vale and traverses the low-lying Thame Valley in South East England, has been revealed by the UK’s High Speed 2 (HS2). The 880m-long bridge, designed to cross the flood plain of the River Thame, will allow HS2 trains to move at speeds of up to 360km/h from London to Birmingham, and the North.
Meanwhile, preparations for the new viaduct near Aylesbury have already begun. “Cutting carbon during construction is a priority for EKFB as the team begins the building works of some of the main structures on its 80km part of HS2, and this process starts right at the first design stages,” said EKFB’s technical director Janice McKenna. HS2 also presented the drawings for the twin-bore 16km long tunnel last month, which will assist minimize noise from trains traveling at up to 320km/h.
Thame Valley Viaduct design
The viaduct’s construction will see all of its essential sections prefabricated before being assembled on-site, reducing the carbon impact by around 66 percent. It will be 3m above ground, with 36 25m long neat and even spans over the river and adjoining wetlands. The viaduct was planned by HS2’s principal works contractor EKFB, which included Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction, and BAM Nuttall, with assistance from design partner ASC and specialized architects Moxon.
“HS2 trains and stations will be zero carbon from day one, providing a cleaner, greener way to travel and helping in the fight against climate change,” stated Tomas Garcia, head of civil structures for HS2. To speed up assembly, the crew will employ two big ‘box girder’ beams per span rather than eight smaller beams. In comparison to the previous design, the new lighter-weight structure is expected to save 19,000 tonnes of embedded carbon.
HS2 purchases 2nd site for new high-speed 2 railway station in Manchester
The second site for the high-speed 2 railway station in Manchester has been procured. Bruntwood, a UK-based property developer, has decided to sell the Square One site on Travis Street to the company that is constructing the UK’s new high-speed 2 railway system. This comes more than a year after HS2 purchased the Store Street property.
In addition to the existing Piccadilly Station, a new high-speed railway station will be built in Manchester. Companies, locals, and people visiting will stand to gain from a 41-minute link to Birmingham, as well as direct services from London Euston that will take half the time it currently takes.
Work is not due to commence until at least 2025, and HS2 has consented to leasehold terms with Square One’s current tenants that will allow them to remain until the site is needed.
Developing high-speed rail to the North
The new high-speed railway station in Manchester is scheduled to open between 2035 and 2040. It will have six surface-level platforms and will allow passengers to use HS2 services as well as future Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services. Both sites were purchased on behalf of HS2.
“Following the submission of the Bill earlier this year, seeking powers to build and operate the railway from Crewe to Manchester, this procurement represents another major milestone in our scheme to bring high-speed rail to the North,” said HS2 chief commercial officer Ruth Todd.
“The purchase of Square One by HS2 is a vote of confidence for local and international investors to leverage the wider regeneration potential of the nearby region, knowing that Manchester is set to become so brilliantly linked.”
Meanwhile, Bruntwood will use the proceeds from the transaction to keep investing in the country’s centres.
The temporary access road to HS2 sites in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and South Warwickshire opened
HS2 has opened the first stage of a 50-mile (80-kilometer) temporary access road that will connect construction sites in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and South Warwickshire while relieving traffic on local roads.
The road, which closely follows the route of the new high-speed railway, is designed to carry 400-500 vehicles per day, assisting in the rapid delivery of people, equipment, and materials to rural construction sites. The first 11 miles (18km) section of the road, constructed by HS2 Ltd’s main works contractor, EKFB – a team comprised of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction, and BAM Nuttall – will connect the major construction site at Calvert with adjoining sites in Aylesbury and Greatworth in Northamptonshire.
This part will help take HS2 vehicles off local roads for the final stages of their journeys, relieving traffic congestion in the Edgcott and Gawcott areas. Further sections to the north and south should be finished in the coming weeks. This comes ahead of a significant increase in earthworks activity over the summer as the focus shifts to constructing the cuttings and embankments that will carry the railway.
HS2 temporary access road
“The finalization of the first stage of the Temporary Access Road is a really significant milestone as work continues to ramp up across the central part of the HS2 route,” said HS2 Ltd Project Client Rohan Perin.
Getting workers, materials, and equipment to all of the sites in rural areas can be a great logistical challenge and headache for local road users. That is why I am excited about the completion of the next stages and the benefits they will bring to both the project and the surrounding area.”
During the building works of the central section of HS2, EKFB is expected to move 30 million cubic meters of material, with the vast majority of that material never leaving the site. Instead, cuttings exhumed will be reused locally for embankments and landscaping. Heavy earth-moving equipment and articulated dumper trucks will use a separate series of local ‘haul roads’ made of compacted gravel to carry this material.
Construction of Colne Valley Viaduct, part of High Speed 2, gets underway
The Colne Valley Viaduct is now under construction, overseen by HS2’s main works contractor Align JV, a consortium comprised of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick.
When finished, the viaduct will be the longest railway bridge in the United Kingdom. The giant concrete deck segments that form the viaduct’s arches have now been lifted into position by a 700-tonne, 160-meter launching girder. A total of 1,000 deck segments, each weighing up to 140 tonnes, will be required.
Work on the viaduct’s foundations began in March, and 56 piers weighing approximately 370 tonnes each are being sunk along the valley ahead of the girder. The girder will travel from one pier to the next, installing deck segments along the way. One segment is installed on each side of the central pier, and the structure is balanced by building two half-arches on either side of each pier at the same time.
To reinforce the bridge, steel tensioning cables will be threaded through the segments. The segments are all slightly different shapes to accommodate the viaduct’s curves and are made on-site at a purpose-built temporary factory. At its peak, it will match-cast approximately 12 segments per week.
The HS2’s Colne Valley Viaduct
This method of pouring each segment against the previous one ensures that the entire deck fits perfectly when assembled on the piers. “I’m pleased that we have started work to assemble the huge deck segments that will form the Colne Valley Viaduct,” said HS2 Chief Executive Mark Thurston.
“Upon completion, this record-breaking structure will be an essential part of the HS2 railway.” I’d like to thank everyone who helped us get to this exciting point, and I’m looking forward to seeing the entire viaduct come together in the coming years.”
The factory together with the surrounding structures will be demolished once construction is completed, and the whole area between the viaduct and the Chiltern tunnel will be transformed into chalk grassland and woodland as part of HS2’s green corridor project.
Installation starts on the HS2’s ‘green’ cut and cover tunnels
Construction of the first of five planned ‘green’ cut and cover tunnels on the HS2 project has begun, led by French engineering firm Matière. Engineers for HS2 deployed a twin arch ‘M’ shape structure design, which they referred to be more efficient than a standard box structure and uses less concrete.
For Northamptonshire’s 2.5km Chipping Warden green tunnel, parts are being made offsite in a factory in Derbyshire. This lighter-weight modular approach is set to reduce the amount of carbon incorporated in the structure by more than half. It also needs less manpower and equipment on the job site.
HS2 green tunnels contractors
The off-site approach was developed by the main works contractor EKFB – a team comprised of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction, and BAM Nuttall – using lessons learned from the construction of the most recent French high-speed lines.
Stanton Precast in Ilkeston will produce over 5,000 massive concrete tunnel segments, which will be assembled by Matière. The tunnel will then be covered with earth, and trees, shrubs, and hedgerows will be planted to blend in with the surrounding countryside.
The green tunnels are the first of the kind in the UK
According to Jeremie Martin, Project Manager at EKFB, “this three-year construction program will benefit from off-site manufacturing, making the green tunnel constructed more efficient than the traditional on-site construction methods.
The HS2 green tunnels are the first of their kind in the United Kingdom. We designed them as a twin arch ‘M’ shape, which is much more efficient than the standard box structure and requires less concrete, demonstrating how innovative engineering design can reduce carbon impact.”
The tunnel is set to be completed in 2024. Similar green tunnels will be constructed in nearby Greatworth, Wendover, Buckinghamshire, and Burton Green, Warwickshire, totaling more than four miles in length. All of the tunnels will have specially designed ‘porous portals’ at either end to reduce noise from trains entering and exiting the tunnel, as well as small portal buildings to house safety and electrical equipment.
Contractor appointed for HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull
The HS2’s Interchange Station in Solihull will be constructed by Laing O’Rourke. The latter will collaborate with HS2 to complete the detailed design in two stages as part of the contract, which is worth up to £370 million. The landmark station will then be built over the following few years. Contracts will be signed following the end of the standstill period.
Unity, a partnership between Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, and Skanska Construction UK were the other two bidders the company had to compete against. A triangle of land formed by the M42, A45, and A452 contains the 150-hectare construction site for the station.
HS2’s Interchange Station in Solihull construction
Notable advancements have been made on the site. These include the construction of modular bridges over the M42 and A446 as part of a remodeled road infrastructure in the zone to enhance access to the new station.
The site where the new station will be constructed is currently being prepared by Balfour Beatty Vinci, the main works contractor for HS2. “It’s fantastic to have Laing O’Rourke ready to construct our new HS2 station. It will be located in Solihull at the heart of the HS2 network,” said Lee Holmes, HS2’s Stations Director.
“Up to this point, we’ve collaborated with Arup to create an award-winning, environmentally friendly station. Furthermore, we’re looking forward to beginning the next phase of design before construction gets underway next year.
Design for HS2’s Interchange Station in Solihull
According to HS2, “The station has been designed to be net-zero in operation. Thus, it is a crucial part of our ambition to construct the most sustainable railway in the world. Additionally, it is part of our strategy to reduce carbon.”
The building received the BREEAM “Outstanding” certification at the design stage. It becomes the first railway station in the world to do so. Maximum use of natural light and ventilation, a station roof design that can collect and reuse rainwater, and features to enable net-zero carbon emissions from daily energy consumption are just a few examples of eco-friendly features.
Additionally, energy-saving technology like air source heat pumps and LED lighting will be used. The Urban Growth Company is leading larger growth plans around the site. Thus, it will support 30,000 jobs, up to 3,000 new homes, and 70,000m2 of commercial space.
HS2 begins work on the first London tunnel
“Sushila” is the fourth of ten TBMs that will be involved in the project. They will bore 64 miles of the tunnel between London and the West Midlands. Later this year, a second TBM named after 18th-century astronomer Caroline Herschel will be launched.
It will start from the West London site and construct the second of HS2’s twin-bore tunnels towards central London. Fifteen strong shift teams will work nonstop for 22 months, except on Christmas Day and bank holidays. Thus they are able to dismantle and lift from the ground at Greenpark Way in Greenford.
Separately, two other TBMs will depart from HS2‘s Victoria Road site in 2023 to construct a further 3.4-mile twin-bore tunnel. The quartet of TBMs will excavate 8.4 miles of twin bored tunnels between West Ruislip and Old Oak Common. This is a new high-speed rail super hub station. Another 4.5-mile twin-bore tunnel from Old Oak Common to Euston will bring HS2 to its London terminus.
New design for London’s Euston station revealed
In advance of a series of community engagement events, HS2 Ltd has released new images of its Euston station design. The images depict proposed station entrances as well as the surrounding urban environment.
HS2 Ltd is preparing to welcome the local community to a series of events to share details about the new station’s developing design. The events are part of a year-long engagement program as the proposals for the station design are finalized.
“We are making an effort to incorporate community feedback into our designs for Euston. Furthermore, we will make the station and nearby area a place that local residents and rail passengers can enjoy and feel proud of,” HS2 Euston area director Laurence Whitbourn said. “We hope to welcome members of the local community to our events. This will help them learn about the HS2 Euston station proposals and have their say on its future.”
The HS2’s Euston station design
It comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed last month that “significant elements” of the original design work on HS2’s Euston station “can no longer be used”. This was following the decision to reduce the station from 11 to 10 platforms.
According to the DfT’s latest six-month project update, HS2 Ltd has to discard large parts of the original design. Unfortunately, it had already spent £105.6M on the discarded project. The plans are being developed by Arup, WSP, Grimshaw, Haptic, and LDA Design. This is in collaboration with HS2’s station construction partner, Mace Dragados JV.
The events began on November 30 and continue through the following week.
In spring 2023, HS2 Ltd will provide another update to the community and explain how feedback was used to shape the final design, which will be submitted to the London Borough of Camden.