HS2 latest news and updates

HS2 set to start permanent construction of huge Victoria Road Crossover Box

  • The Victoria Road Crossover Box, near to Old Oak Common in West London, will allow HS2 trains to switch tracks underground on their approach into the new superhub station
  • Installation of 200m of sheet piling completed, allowing permanent works to commence
  • CGIs of crossover box and images of the piling works available 
HS2 set to start permanent construction of huge Victoria Road Crossover Box: Plan of Victoria Road Crossover Box

HS2 have completed sheet piling work by contractors Skanska Costain STRABAG Railways Joint Venture (SCS Railways) in Acton, West London, to enable the construction of the Victoria Road Crossover Box.  

The installation of 200m of sheet piling was the final piece of enabling work before permanent works can begin. The site team completed the work ensuring that vital utilities in the area, including a Thames Water Main and UK Power Network cables were unaffected.

The Victoria Road Crossover Box site is located to the west of where the new superhub HS2 Old Oak Common station is being constructed. The huge underground box structure being built will house a crossover track mechanism that will allow trains to switch between tracks, up to a design speed of 62 mp/h, on the approach and descent from Old Oak Common station.

The box will be 130m in length and 24m deep complete with 1.5m thick walls constructed by diaphragm piling method, with top and intermediate levels of reinforced concrete props.  The base slab of the crossover box will be supported is supported by 77 piles which will be installed 20m into the ground below the slab level.

Some interesting details of the impressive structure:

  • The crossover box will have a volume of 131,820m– the same as 55 Olympic Swimming pools or 800,00 bath tubs.
  • The structure will use 3,700 tonnes of reinforcement – that is roughly 1/3 of the weight of the Eiffel
  • The depth of the box is the equivalent of 6 double decker buses on top of each other.
  • The Piles are 44m long – similar to the height of the Arc de Triomphe.

The site at Victoria Road is also currently being prepared to launch the Northolt Tunnel Boring Machines which will bore 3.4 miles North West, as part of the construction of HS2’s 8.4 mile Northolt Tunnel.

Malcolm Codling, Project Client for HS2 Limited, said:

“HS2 Ltd and our contractors, are pushing ahead, completing this work on time to meet our construction timetable. The Victoria Road site will house some of the most crucial pieces of infrastructure that are required to make Old Oak Common station one of the best connected in the UK, providing a quarter of a million passengers a day connections to the North, East, South and West across the UK”

The site will also be home to the Victoria Road Ancillary Shaft which will provide ventilation and emergency access to the rail line during operation. The shaft will have an internal diameter of 25m and will be constructed using pre cast rings at the top, and using a sprayed concrete lining technique at the bottom.

James Richardson, Managing Director of Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture, said:

“Our team are making great progress on constructing the crossover box at Victoria Road and are working collaboratively with other construction partners to deliver this exceptional programme of work. As we continue to build the HS2 tunnels and shafts between West Ruislip and Euston, we are growing our workforce and offer many routes into our industry so that our team reflects the diversity of the community we serve.”

HS2 Ltd, and its main works contractors, begun main works construction of the new high speed railway after being given the green light from the Prime Minister in April 2020. To date over 3,400 people are working across London on the project.

HS2 contractors win international Green Apple Environment Award

Competing against 500 other nominees worldwide, HS2’s main works civils contractor Align JV and civil engineering company Roadbridge have won a Green Apple Environment Award in the Innovation category for their use of thermal camera drones to spot Skylark nests.

HS2 contractors win international Green Apple Environment Award: Thermal camera drone used for surveys

The Green Apple Awards are run by the Green Organisation – an international, independent, environment group that recognises, rewards and promotes environmental best practice around the world.

Align JV, which will deliver the portion of HS2 that includes the Chiltern Tunnel and the Colne Valley Viaduct, working with its contractor Roadbridge, introduced thermal camera drones to dramatically improve the accuracy of nesting birds’ surveys, helping to protect the species and enable faster and more effective results for ecologists working on the project.

As ground-nesting birds with well camouflaged nests, Skylarks are very difficult to survey, but using a thermal camera, the drone can calibrate to the ground temperature and other objects to lock onto a heat source and identify the birds’ nests extremely accurately.

HS2’s Environment Director Peter Miller said:

“Protecting the natural environment as we build Britain’s new low-carbon railway is at the heart of everything we do. Some of the country’s most experienced and leading ecological consultants are working on the project, and we’re extremely pleased to see environmental innovations such as this gain international recognition and create new levels of best practice in the sector.”

Adam Cockayne, Environment Manager at Align JV said:

“Align is responsible for all ecological matters on this part of the HS2 project, and we’ve been working with Roadbridge on this innovation to ensure that the earthworks we’re carrying out do not disturb nesting birds in the area. Building on the success of the programme, we’re now planning to find other uses for thermal camera drones to benefit HS2’s ecological monitoring programme and are excited for what the future may hold.”

Vincent Ryan, Environmental Advisor at Roadbridge said:

“We’re delighted to win this international award for our environmental innovation. As a result of this award we have been invited to accept Green Apple World Ambassador status which means our winning paper will be published in the Green Book – the leading international work of reference for environmental best practice, so that others can follow our example and learn from the innovation.”

At twelve metres above ground level the drone captures approximately a 9m2 area, providing a reduction in search times, and a clear perspective from a 90-degree view of the ground below. Using a thermal camera, the drone can calibrate to the ground temperature and other objects to lock onto a heat source and identify the birds’ nests. This includes birds on the nest, eggs on the nest and birds sheltering on the ground.

Exclusion zones are then put on Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings and into the Global Positioning System (GPS) of machinery working on site to let operators know when they are working near exclusion zones, to protect nests and allow works to progress safely.

Manchester’s P.P O’Connor Group helps to build HS2’s new Birmingham station

Manchester-based civil engineering specialists P.P O’Connor Group Limited have joined the growing number of British businesses supporting construction of Britain’s new railway, High Speed Two.

Manchester’s P.P O’Connor Group helps to build HS2’s new Birmingham station: HS2's Curzon Street Station in Birmingham

Over 2,000 companies have won work on Europe’s largest engineering project so far, and P.P O’Connor Group Ltd is one of 11 companies to have worked on the site which will become the first brand new intercity terminus station built in Britain since the since the 19th century. 

The P.P O’Connor Ltd team were tasked by HS2’s enabling works contractor for the West Midlands, LMJV (Laing O’Rourke and J. Murphy & Sons), with supporting the vast programme of works currently underway to prepare for the construction of the HS2 Curzon Street Station and the railway coming into Birmingham.

P.P O’Connor Group Ltd, who specialise in bulk earthworks, remediation, complex demolition, recycling and deconstruction, were called upon for their expertise in the safe and long-term removal of the invasive and highly aggressive species of plant known as Japanese Knotweed.

The banks of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, which run adjacent to the new station site and feature in the wider regeneration masterplans for the local area, were infested with the plant which can grow through concrete if left untreated. The scale of infestation required the team to remove and lower sections of the existing wall along the canal banks, which are well known for their links to TV-drama Peaky Blinders.

Darren Fowles, Project Manager at P.P O’Connor Group Limited, who led the programme of work on site said:

“We are delighted to be supporting the construction of this once-in-a-lifetime project and it’s great that Manchester firms are winning work on this first phase of the project.

“We hope the work we have delivered will stand us in good stead to secure more contract opportunities, particularly as HS2 extends to the Midlands and the North.”

An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during Phase One of HS2, supporting thousands of jobs on site and many more around the country. It is estimated that around 95% of those contract opportunities will be won by UK- based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small and medium sized enterprises.

David Poole, HS2 Ltd’s Procurement and Commercial Director said:

“Businesses right across the UK are winning work on HS2 and this is helping to sustain and support new jobs at a crucial time.

“HS2 is playing a pivotal role in Britain’s economic recovery and I’m delighted to see that companies in the North of England are securing contracts on this first phase of the project.”

Other work overseen by LM JV (Laing O’Rourke and J. Murphy & Sons) on the site includes diversions of utilities, which will future-proof the area for Birmingham’s tram extension.

The transformative refurbishment of the Grade 1 listed Old Curzon Street Station is just about to start, marking the next phase of work around the new high speed terminus. HS2 will also announce the Curzon Street Station delivery contract award in 2021.

For more information about opportunities within HS2’s supply chain visit hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/supply-chain/

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