HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

The first images of HS2 High-Speed Rail Project’s- longest of three “green tunnels” to be constructed across Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire have been revealed. The tunnels construction constitutes the high speed railways line 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 in will be constructed in a factory in Derbyshire before being transported to 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 neighbouring countryside. Construction of similar designs are 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. Read also: Gloucestershire Airport’s runway resurfacing to start[1]

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[2] 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 gets 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 neighbouring 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 a specially designed ‘porous portals’ in all ends to lower the noise of trains when entering and exiting the tunnel as well as a mini portal buildings to house electrical equipment and safety.

What we’ve reported so far on the HS2 High-Speed Rail Project

2009

The assessment of the case for a second high-speed line was proposed by the Department for Transport (DfT) [3]under the Labour government. DfT also set up a company High-Speed Two Limited (HS2 Ltd)[4] for the development of the project. 2010

HS2 Ltd submitted proposals for the project to the government in the first quarter. The preferred route option was announced in October. In December, the route was opened to public consultation.

2011 The public consultation on the route proposals was completed in July.

2012 In January, the government approved the recommended route and announced that HS2 would be implemented in two phases.

CH2M Hill was appointed as a development partner to provide engineering, design, and environmental assistance for the HS2 project. In March, HS2 contracted the (ERM[5], Temple Group[6], and Mott MacDonald[7] Consortium), Atkins[8], and Arup[9] to undertake environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for the project. In April, HS2 placed contracts with Mott Macdonald, Atkins, Capita,[10] Symonds and Ineco[11] JV, and Arup for designing various segments along the high-speed line.

In May, Parsons Brinckerhoff[12] was awarded contracts to design high-speed rail systems for the first phase of the project and to deliver design changes on the present Network Rail systems at major interface points, to allow the construction of the proposed HS2. 2016 In November, the Secretary of State confirmed part of the Phase 2b route and announced a consultation on seven route refinement areas.

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.Secretary of State for Transport

2017

The High-Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act 2017 authorizing the construction of Phase 1 passed both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent in February. In July, a Phase 2a High-Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) bill, seeking the power to construct Phase 2 as far as Crewe and make decisions on the remainder of the Phase 2b route, was introduced.

2019 In June, HS2 Ltd published proposals to revise plans to access Liverpool via High Legh in Cheshire

In July, Phase 2a was approved by the House of Commons.

February 2020 Construction of HS2 Super-hub station in London to commence soon

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. 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,[13] and architects WilkinsonEyre[14]. 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)[15] and they expect that the area around the new HS2 station will become a neighbourhood with a potential to create tens of thousands of homes and jobs. Also Read: UK to invest over US £65.7m into renewable energy projects in Africa.[16]

The new station

The new station will incorporate passenger and retail facilities, providing 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 which 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)[17] who were awarded the contract last September.

May 2020 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[18]) has approved the planning application for Old Oak Common HS2[19] 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 a 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 minimising the need for long term energy consumption.

The arch forms also reduce the need for columns to support the roof and provide clear sight lines, 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.

Also Read: DfT approves construction of high speed railway in London, England[20]

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 a new traffic signalised junction. 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 neighbourhood with the potential to create tens of thousands of homes and jobs.

September 2020 Construction of US £141bn HS2 High-Speed Rail Project in UK starts

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. Construction of the HS2[21] 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 project in February. The company HS2 Ltd said most of the work to date had been preparatory, including design, ground clearance, and demolition.

Also Read: Beijing high-speed rail link to Tibet begins construction.[22]

Johnson, who briefly threw the project in doubt when becoming PM, after promising a review amid increasing the 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 GBP45bn, 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[23] contractors in London have begun using a new low carbon concrete product which provides a reduction of 42% in CO2 in comparison to a standard concrete.

In addition, the remaining carbon emissions from using the concrete are offset to provide a CarbonNeutral(R) 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 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. Also Read: Construction of US £141bn HS2 high-speed rail line in UK starts[24]

HS2 construction The first use of the Vertua Classic Zero concrete in the capital recently took place at a HS2 site in North West London, ready to prepare the ground for an electricity substation which 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 highspeed railway in the world and is driving innovation in design, construction and operation to minimise 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[25] has secured planning approval from the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for the Interchange station to be constructed at Solihull, in UK. The planning application for the station and the surrounding landscape and public realm, along with the Automated People Mover, were 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. Also Read: Gvt of Alberta signs MoU on development of 1000km/h Hyperloop Transportation System[26] According to HS2’s Stations Director Matthew Botelle, they are extremely pleased to receive approval for the design of 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 which 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 GBP6.2bn 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.

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. 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[27] 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. Also Read: Construction of US £141bn HS2 high-speed rail line in the UK starts[28]

The 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, improves 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.”

August 2021 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. Also Read: Construction of Moroccan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, United Arab Emirates[29]

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. HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. 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 facade, 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. HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. 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.

Project Team

Arup Group [30]

Grimshaw Architects[31] Ove Arup & Partners International Costain Group[32] and Skanska AB[33] joint venture

Mace Group[34] and Dragados[35] joint venture Lendlease Group[36]

September 2021 HS2 Ltd to build the Birmingham Interchange Station

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. HS2 Ltd[37] has announced the shortlist of bidders for the tender to develop the eco-friendly Birmingham Interchange Station at the centre 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 GBP270M, which later exceeded by GBP100M to GBP370M. The winner of the contract will design the station before construction starts and takes shape after 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. Read also:Gatwick Airport second runway plans underway in United Kingdom.[38]

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 of modular bridges construction over the M42 and A446, and revamping of the road network in the area to help access to the new station.

This acknowledges the station’s eco-friendly characteristics including enhancing natural daylight and ventilation, a station roof which can collect and reuse rainwater, and other attributes to enable net zero carbon emissions from the 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 fo 5,000 new homes, 70,000 jobs and 650,000m2 of commercial area, bringing about GBP6.2bn GVA per year and 1.3M people with a 45 minute public transport station commute. The tender will be awarded in 2022.

October 2021 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[39] phase 2a route from the West Midlands to Crewe. The GBP240m contract 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 northern and southern contracts scope, bidders must bid for both contracts but will win only one packages 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, establishment of haul routes and site’s compound and preparing the line’s trace all of which will help rapid mobilisation and the commencement of Main Civils Works in Summer of 2024.

Civil Advanced Works is due to start in 2022 Autumn. Read also: HS2 Ltd to build the Birmingham Interchange Station[40] The Project.

The tendering announcement follows HS2 Phase 2a Design and Delivery Partner (DDP) search, when it published in June the PQQ for the GBP500m tender. 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 of 65 bridges, 17 viaducts and track 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 30 minutes.

October 2021

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, the Austria’s biggest construction company will construct the facility which will fulfil a 36,000 segment contract for their joint venture with Costain Skanska[41] 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 production of 6-tonne precast concrete tunnel segments starting by December 2022. Read also:The Lower Thames Crossing project underway in UK.[42]

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 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[43] 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[44] 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 main contractor joint venture Mace Dragados to construct the GBP2.6bn 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 GBP400m budget already identified at Euston. Stephenson added that the exact savings would be pointed out as the updated design is developed on the coming months.

Read also: Ringway wins maintenance tender from Surrey County Council[45]

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 pressures of almost GBP1.3bn in comparison with GBP0.8 billion six months ago. The total budget for Phase One, including Euston station terminus[46], remains GBP44.6bn.

This is composed of the target cost of GBP40.3bn and the government-retained contingency of GBP4.3bn.

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[47] (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 of 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 alot towards the government’s “levelling up” plan.

Read also:Luton and Dunstable University Hospital extension set to begin[48]

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 “devastating impact on confidence in the sector”. The letter indicated that alot of people have already started investing in the area based on the promise of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail[49] (NPR), which will link northern cities like Leeds and Manchester. The Treasury was also the victims 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 saviour 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 station, despite the National Infrastructure Commission spotlighting the added value a through station would bring in region connection..

December 2021 HS2 develops first ‘box-slide’ bridge over motorway

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. Balfour Beatty Vinci, the HS2, joint venture has began preparations for the first UK box slide for a rail bridge over a motorway.

The Midlands scheme was originally planned as a traditional structure, that would have meant significant traffic disruption for the motorists, with around two years of slim lane widths, 50mph speed limits and nights 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.

Read also: Work to start on GBP30m Glasgow’s Govan to Partick bridge project[50]

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 guide raft, with the box constructed at the top. The box will later be pushed by a jacking system run by structural engineering company Freyssinet, that 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 boost the safety and health of the workforce, who won’t have to work in close proximity to a live carriageway. David Speight, HS2[51] Client Project Director, stated: “At HS2 we’re always planning for innovative ways to lower our effects to local communities, and this UK first box slide offers a quicker and safer solution. “We’re working very close 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[52], a joint venture comprising of Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick and Sir Robert McAlpine, operating in partnership with Kilnbridge[53]. 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. Read also: Germany Develops A Mammoth TBM For Silvertown Tunnel Project.[54]

The Colne Valley Viaduct Construction.

Each pier is modelled 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. 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 separated unique segments at a temporary factory in the neighborhood before assembling from north to south, starting 2022.

As part of a push across the whole HS2 scheme to cut carbon in construction, the design and construction teams working on 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 highspeed railway bridges in Europe.

HS2 launches first Midlands Tunnel Boring Machine

High speed 2[55] 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 tonne, 125m-long TBM.

An expert tunnelling 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 aime to break through the first bore at the south portal during the Spring in 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.

HS2 High-Speed Rail Project: Green tunnels for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.TBM Dorothy cutterhead being lifted into place

Read also: Galliard Homes to construct 850 homes in England.[56]

Shaping the infrastructure landscape

The machine will dig mudstone and soil averaging to a total of 250,000 cubic metres 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 on our efforts to recruit the 7,000 people needed across the Midlands to help us shape the future of UK’s infrastructure landscape; those who will see their hardwork enjoyed for years to come.” In total there will be 10 HS2 tunnel boring machines on the first phase , working to excavate 64 miles of tunnel form London to the West Midlands for Britain’s high speed rail scheme.

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  16. ^ Also Read: UK to invest over US £65.7m into renewable energy projects in Africa. (constructionreviewonline.com)
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  56. ^ Galliard Homes to construct 850 homes in England. (constructionreviewonline.com)




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