Lift off for key HS2 and East West Rail bridge

Lift off for key HS2 and East West Rail bridge

A new bridge, which will carry direct train services between Oxford and Cambridge, has been placed over the route of HS2, the high-speed line under construction between London, Birmingham and the North.

HS2 engineers used an enormous 600 tonne crane to move the new bridge into position north of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

The bridge deck – which weighs as much as 25 double-decker buses – will carry East West Rail services linking Oxford, Bicester, Bedford and Cambridge, mostly along a route that closed in the 1960s.

HS2 aims to help improve north-south rail travel, boost the economy and offer zero-carbon rail travel. Construction is in full swing, and the project will support more than 29,000 jobs.

Earthworks and bridges on this short section where the two projects intersect will be built by HS2 contractors to improve efficiency and reduce overall disruption to local residents.

Welcoming the milestone, Beth West, Co-CEO of EWR said: “Local communities are now one step closer to reaping the benefits of a new, faster, more sustainable and affordable way, connecting all communities from Oxford to Cambridge – and beyond across the country – to travel . East West Rail will connect thousands of people to jobs, families and friends with a reliable and safe service. The bridge installation over the Calvert Cut is a really important milestone in bringing EEA to life.

“The Government has recently re-committed East West Rail and construction of the Bicester to Bletchley railway is being completed as planned – both on time and on budget, with passenger services between Oxford and Bletchley due to start operating from 2025.”

Weighing over 315 tonnes near Calvert in Buckinghamshire, the bridge was assembled on site and designed by a team of experts led by EKFB, HS2’s main contractor – a group comprising Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and Bam Nuttall – in placed.

The 35m long weatherproof steel bridge is designed to naturally age over time to a dark brown color to match the tone of the surrounding landscape. It was lifted into position in two hours using a 600 tonne crawler crane.

Paul Marshall, Senior Project Manager of HS2 Ltd said: “HS2 will transform journeys between London, Birmingham and the major cities of the North, but it is vital that we also maintain and enable connections for communities on both sides of the line . So we worked closely with East West Rail to get this crucial bridge in place and I would like to thank everyone involved in bringing us to this important moment for both of our projects.”

The bridge will cross one of the longest cuts on the HS2 project. Work began earlier this year on the 2.1 mile (3.4 km) Calvert Section which will take the line south past the villages of Calvert Green and Steeple Claydon in Buckinghamshire, roughly along the route of the disused Great Central Railway, which also closed in the 1960s.

Approximately 685,000 cubic yards of material will be excavated to create the Calvert Cutting, which will be up to 9.7m deep and wide enough to accommodate additional local rail lines alongside the HS2 mainline at a later date.

Around 99 percent of the material excavated by EKFB is stored on the HS2 site and transported via a special network of haul roads to avoid additional traffic on public roads. It is then used for embankments, noise barriers and landscaping. In the last 20 months, EKFB has moved more than 15 million cubic meters of material across the 80km between the Chilterns and South Warwickshire.

In addition to the bridge, HS2 is also providing 650,000 cubic yards of earthworks, two minor road bridges and a footbridge for East West Rail in the Calvert area. The first earthwork section was handed over to East West Rail a few weeks ago.

EKFB Project Manager Dave Newcombe said: “The Calvert area is home to an important interface between two new rail networks that will carry HS2 under the East West Rail line. The construction of this crossing, carried out by EKFB, was clearly thought out with our local communities at the forefront of our plans.

“To reduce disruption to local residents, maximize delivery efficiency and reduce costs, EKFB undertook the earthworks and construction of the new bridge for the East West Rail. Now we are pleased to be able to lift the rebar platform onto the bridge – a great milestone for our construction program.”

Photo credit: HS2 Ltd

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