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HS2 Engineers Complete UK’s Heaviest Bridge Installation

In a remarkable engineering feat, High Speed 2 (HS2) engineers have completed the installation of a single-span bridge structure weighing a staggering 6,200 tons. This accomplishment is being hailed as the UK’s heaviest bridge drive to date.

The bridge was meticulously positioned beneath the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Lichfield. This enabled the future HS2 track to traverse seamlessly beneath the WCML, extending northward from Birmingham towards Crewe. Led by Byrne Bros, part of the BBV (Balfour Beatty Vinci JV) supply chain, the project is a testament to collaborative efforts and advanced engineering techniques.

A Cost-Effective and Efficient Installation of the UK’s Heaviest Bridge

The 56-meter long and 19-meter comprehensive concrete structure was constructed adjacent to the WCML at Fulfen Wood over six months. During this time, the design process emphasised early engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders involved. This approach enabled the designers to tailor the bridge to suit the existing equipment. Thus, it eliminated the need for unique fabrication or purchases.

Mammoet, a specialist lifting company, was crucial in manoeuvring the concrete structure into place. They used a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) equipped with 840 wheels and a remote steering system. The successful execution of the Fulfen Wood Overbridge installation highlights the viability of cost-effective. This is as well as efficient installation methods, contributing to sustainability efforts.

Excavation and Team Efforts

An impressive 61,000 cubic meters of material were excavated throughout the six-month project to prepare for the bridge installation. As the bridge drive approached, the railway track was temporarily removed. Furthermore, an additional 15,000 cubic meters of material were excavated to create sufficient space for the structure.

The BBV team consisted of approximately 300 individuals, including 200 who worked tirelessly around the clock in the final week. They collaborated seamlessly to move the bridge, backfill the surrounding area, and reinstate the railway. The team’s coordinated efforts ensured the timely completion of the project. They also facilitated the reopening of the WCML for rail traffic.

A Nine-Day Closure and Future Bridge Drives

The successful bridge installation occurred during a nine-day closure of the Trent Valley line, a section of the WCML. This closure period also allowed Network Rail to conduct various upgrades and platform works at Lichfield Trent Valley station, optimising the rail infrastructure.

The same SPMT used in the Fulfen Wood bridge drive will soon be employed for another bridge installation near Streethay. This forthcoming project will involve placing a similar 2,600-ton structure beneath the South Staffordshire line, connecting Lichfield High-Level station to Derby.

Milestones Reached and Testimonials for UK’s Heaviest Bridge

Caroline Warrington, HS2 senior project manager, expressed her delight with the engineering achievement, noting that it marks a significant milestone as Phase One of HS2 approaches peak construction. The project, with over 9,000 individuals working in the Midlands and more than 29,500 involved overall, demonstrates substantial progress and provides a considerable boost to British businesses and job opportunities.

Tom Lyons, construction director at Byrne Bros, commended the BBV team for their exceptional leadership, teamwork, and project management throughout the complex engineering endeavour. Furthermore, section engineer Chloe Foster-Chambers expressed her satisfaction with the collaborative nature of the project, emphasising the sense of achievement for everyone involved.

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The successful installation of the UK’s heaviest single-span bridge beneath the WCML is a remarkable accomplishment for HS2 engineers. This engineering marvel exemplifies advanced construction techniques. It also highlights the significance of collaboration and early engagement in achieving cost-effective and sustainable solutions. As the HS2 project progresses, these achievements serve as a testament to the dedication and expertise of the teams involved, bringing the vision of a transformative high-speed rail network closer to reality.

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