The second phase of high-speed rail connectivity in the UK, after the link from the Channel Tunnel connection with the Continent to London, has taken a step closer to construction with appointment of three joint ventures to deliver essential early works ahead of main civil engineering construction of Phase 1 of the new dedicated HS2 rail line between London and Birmingham and announcement of the preferred route for Phase 2 of the line to extend services from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
The announcements confirm commitment by the UK Government to push ahead with the two phases of the £56 billion project.
Valued at a total of £900 million, the enabling works contracts cover activity along the full route of the project’s Phase 1 alignment from London to Birmingham. Activities will include utility diversions, highway realignments, structural reinforcements and drainage work, preparing for archaeological studies, ecology surveys, ground remediation, watercourse upgrades, monitoring and instrumentation, site clearances and demolitions, and setting up main line construction work compounds.
The work is divided along the route into three sections and the three joint ventures appointed to each are:
Work is due to begin in the Spring of 2017.
A shortlist of nine bidders for construction of the main line for Phase 1 of the project has been confirmed as have the contract packages for the 160km long route (Tables 1 and 2). Several of the main contracts are large tunnelling packages of more than 8km, 14km and 15km of twin-tube, TBM-bored tunnelling (Table 3).
Phase 1 main line construction is expected to start in 2017 with Royal Assent approval by Government to build the line anticipated before the end of 2016.
|Table 1. Major civil construction contract packages|
|S1||Euston Tunnels and Approaches||8,000m||600-900|
|C1||Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct||15,000m||800-1,300|
|C2||North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley||n/a||800-1,300|
|C3||Brackley to Long Itchington Wood (LIW)||n/a||600-900|
|N1||LIW to Delta Junction/Birmingham Spur||n/a||900-1,500|
|N2||Delta Junction to West Coast Main Line Tie-in||n/a||800-1,300|
Announcement of the preferred route for Phase 2 of the project removes much of the uncertainty over how the alignment will affect local communities. The one area of continuing debate is the location of the station and alignment of the connection to the city of Sheffield on the branch from Birmingham to Leeds.
The Government's preferred option is for the main HS2 route to run east of Sheffield, with a separate spur to take passengers to Sheffield city centre (Fig 1). This would cost about £1 billion less than alternatives of taking the line through Sheffield or to a new station located outside Sheffield near the M1 motorway. A final decision on the different options is expected next year.
Another spur will take HS2 to a new station at Manchester Airport on the line from Birmingham to Manchester.
|Table 2. Shortlisted bidders for HS2 Phase 1 construction|
|Align JV||Buoygues/VolkerFitzpatrick/Robert McAlpine||S2/C1/C2/C3|
|BBV||Balfour Beatty/Vinci/BeMo Tunnelling||C1/C2/N1/N2|
|CEK||Carillion/Eiffage Genie /Kier||S1/S2/C2/C3|
|Fusion||Morgan Sindall/BAM Nuttall/Ferrovial Agroman||S1/S2/N1/N2|
|LFM||Laing O’Rourke/FCC/J. Murphy||C1/N1/N2|
The first phase of the £56 billion railway is due to open in December 2026. The second two-branch phase to Manchester and Leeds is due to be completed by 2032-33.
With the route now chosen, the Government will progress Phase 2 through the parliamentary approval process.
A compensation agreement for those property owners affected by the project is to be calculated by the Government at 110% of the value the property had there been no HS2 impact. The compensation agreement applies to homes located within 60m of the route although it is reported this could be extended in certain circumstances.
Communities along the proposed route are voicing objections including residents of the newly built housing estate which is likely to be demolished to make way for the new line.
|Table 3. HS2 Phase 1 tunnel packages|
|Tunnel||Length||Shafts||TBMs||i.d.||Civils Package No.||Design|
|Euston||7,000m||3||3||7.55mm||South 1 (inc. Old Oak Common station box)||Mott MacDonald/URS|
|Northolt||14,000m||4||4||8.55m||South 2||Mott MacDonald/ URS|
|Chilterns||13,400m||4||2||8.55m||South 3 (inc. Colne Viaduct)||Atkins|
|Long Itchington Wood||1,500m||0||1||8.55m||Central 1 Greatworth–Birmingham Interchange (30km)||Capita Symonds/ Ineco|
|Bromford||2,800m||0||1||8.55m||North 1 Birmingham Int’l Stn–Handsacre||Arup|
As debate over the final route of the second phase of the project continues, Jim Crawford, Managing Director of HS2 Ltd Construction said that confirmation of the early works contracts on Phase 1 was an important milestone for the overall project. “It is the start of construction,” he said. “Over the coming years, our new partners will deliver the essential preparatory work we need to deliver the main construction programme.”
The UK Government gave the go ahead for a dedicated high-speed rail network to the north of the country in January 2012. The Y-shaped rail links will provide direct, dedicated, high capacity, high-speed rail services between London and Birmingham and on to Leeds and Manchester to increase capacity on the UK rail services and boost the UK economy.