HS2 has passed another major milestone at the high speed rail project’s first tunnel site, with the completion of structural work on the temporary pre-cast factory which will produce wall sections for the 10 mile long Chiltern tunnels.
The tunnel precast factory – and all 2,400 tonnes of structural steelwork at the south portal site, next to the M25 – will be made in the UK and delivered by specialist steel fabricators, Caunton Engineering, from their base near Moorgreen, Nottinghamshire.
The factory will allow HS2’s main works contractor, Align JV – a joint venture made up of three companies: Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick – to cast all the tunnel segments on-site and avoid putting extra HGVs onto local roads.
Two giant tunnelling machines – named Florence and Cecilia – are due to launch next year.
The 170m long, 2,200-tonne machines will spend more than 3 years underground and use 112,000 concrete segments to line the tunnels, moving at a speed of 15.6m a day.
A second precast plant will be used to cast sections for the nearby Colne Valley Viaduct.
Once work is complete, the pre-cast plants will be disassembled and the whole site will be landscaped with material excavated from the tunnels and trees planted in order to blend it in with the surrounding countryside.
Matthew Shimwell, Caunton’s Managing Director said: “We are thrilled to be working with the Align team in helping to deliver this key part of infrastructure work. The project is an excellent example of how early engagement with the supply chain brings real value to a project.
“This collaborative approach has helped to optimise the design of the buildings to more fully benefit from an informed DFMA [Design For Manufacture and Assembly] approach. We wish the project team every success as it enters the next key stage in delivering this prestigious project.”
Welcoming the milestone, HS2 Ltd’s C1 Senior Project Manager, Mark Clapp said: “The pre-cast plant will play a crucial role in delivering the Chiltern tunnels. By casting all 112,000 segments on-site, we can significantly reduce the number of HGVs on local roads, reducing disruption for the local community.”
“I’d like to thank everyone at Align and especially Caunton for their hard work in making it happen. Caunton’s involvement shows how HS2 is delivering for companies right across Britain, creating jobs and helping the economy recover from the pandemic.”
D2N2 is supportive of the HS2 project which could deliver up to 74,000 jobs and £4 billion to the local economy of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
In April D2N2 announced approval for £2.4m of funding to be allocated towards HS2 Infrastructure in Chesterfield.
The investment from D2N2 will go towards the development of the Chesterfield railway station area in order to capitalise on the economic benefits that HS2 will bring to the town.