HS2 station shortlist as work sites mobilise 25 Jun 2020

TunnelTalk reporting

Three shortlisted contractors are in the running to build Birmingham Curzon Street Station, a landmark city centre terminus for the HS2 high-speed rail project in the UK.

Curzon Street Station: landmark HS2 terminus for Birmingham
Curzon Street Station: landmark HS2 terminus for Birmingham

Bidders to be invited to tender for the £570m contract are:

  • BAM Ferrovial - A JV of BAM Nuttall and Ferrovial Construction
  • Laing O’Rourke Construction
  • Mace Dragados JV

Curzon Street is the first HS2 station to gain planning approval. HS2 Ltd worked with WSP and Grimshaw Architects on the station design, which is inspired by the great arched roofs built by the Victorian railway pioneers. It will be net zero carbon in operation and will adopt the latest eco-friendly design and sustainable technologies, including capturing rainwater and utilising sustainable power generation, with more than 2,800m2 of solar panels located on platform canopies.

Launch portal of first two HS2 TBMs
Launch portal of first two HS2 TBMs

Following Government go ahead for the civil engineering elements of the project in April 2020, the announcement provides confidence for the construction and engineering sector in the UK, and is marked with mobilisation of the largest contract on the project that includes the 16km long twin tube tunnel through the Chilterns. Preparations are well underway to establish the jobsite and launch portals in advance of the arrival of the first two of 10 TBMs to be used on the new rail route.

“For Birmingham Curzon Street Station, we are looking for a partner to take on the complex construction phase, working with us to deliver this logistical and engineering challenge," said HS2 Ltd Procurement and Commercial Director, David Poole. “It is great to see how much interest there is in the competition."

Significant progress has been made on the station site with an archaeological programme, involving 70 archaeologists, underway; and demolitions and ground investigations preparing the site for construction and utility diversions.

A contract for the two-stage design-build contract is expected to be awarded next year (2021).

Largest HS2 site prepares for first TBMs

Meanwhile, preparations at the largest construction site on the project have progressed at south portal Chalfont Lane site of the Chilterns twin tube tunnels in advance of the arrival of the first TBM to be launched early in 2021. The the 136-acre site near the M25 orbital motorway around London, will welcome the first two Herrenknecht variable density machines later in 2020.

The largest construction site on HS2
The largest construction site on HS2

Excavation of the launch site has progressed and work has begun on construction of the concrete precast plant where more than 118,000 segments will be cast. From here, specialist teams will deliver the tunnel drives as well as the construction of the adjacent Colne Valley viaduct.

Once assembled, the two 10.26m diameter TBMS will excavate the 16km long twin tube rail tunnels through the Chiltern Hills to a site near South Heath in Buckinghamshire.

About 350 staff with the Align JV of Bouygues, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, and its subcontractors, are based on site. At peak, 1,200 people are expected to be employed in the design and construction of the Chiltern tunnels and the viaduct, including 50 opportunities for apprentices.

The twin bore Chiltern tunnels, with five ventilation shafts, are the longest and deepest on the route from Euston Station terminus in London to the Curzon Street Station terminus in Birmingham. Tunnel muck will be reused as landscaping on site.

Chalfont Lane south portal of Chiltern tunnels
Chalfont Lane south portal of Chiltern tunnels

Just south of the tunnel portal, the 3.4km long Colne Valley viaduct, designed by Align working with its design partners Jacobs and Ingerop-Rendel, and the architect Grimshaw, will cross the Grand Union Canal and surrounding lakes.

“The south portal site will have one of the most important parts to play in the story of HS2,” said HS2 Delivery Director, David Bennett, "delivering two of the most ambitious engineering challenges on the project.”

“We have a significant presence on site and this is set to increase over the weeks and months ahead,” said Align JV Project Director Daniel Altier. “Align is now actively recruiting to build our team to deliver this iconic project.”


First three HS2 TBMs ordered and in manufacture 28 May 2020

TunnelTalk reporting

The first three TBMs to be used on the HS2 high speed rail project in the UK are on order and in fabrication at the Herrenknecht factory in Germany. These three TBMs, as the first of a total 10 TBMs needed for the project, are on order by the Align JV, of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick for central contract package C1, and by the BBV Balfour Beatty Vinci JV on its contract packages N1 and N2 at the north end of the line. The first two machines to be delivered later in 2020 are 10.26m in diameter and will be used by the Align JV to excavate the 16km long twin tube tunnels through the Chiltern Hills running northwest from just inside the M25m orbital motorway around London to South Heath in Buckinghamshire. The third machine for the BBV JV, is one of two machines it will need for excavation of the 2.8km long twin tube tunnel on the approach to the new Birmingham International Station. All three TBMs are of the Herrenknecht variable density slurry design.

First two HS2 TBMs in manufacture by Herrrenknecht in Germany for the Chiltern Hills drives

The two 170m long, 2,000 tonne, variable density machines for the Align JV will spend about three and half years excavating the Chiltern tunnels, which are the longest and deepest on the HS2 Phase 1 route from the Euston Station terminus in London to the Curzon Street Station terminus in Birmingham. They are programmed to work on a 24 hour, seven days a week schedule, stopping only for the end of year and public holidays.

First two TBMs will progress under the Chiltern Hills
First two TBMs will progress under the Chiltern Hills

The tunnels run up to 80m below the Chilterns working mainly through chalk geology with a reach of chalk with hard flint inclusions at the north ned. As the machines progress they will erect a segmental lining to 9.1m i.d. in rings of 2m wide. About 112,000 segments, each weighing about 8.5 tonne on average, will be required to complete the total 34km of the 17km long twin running tunnels.

About 56km of the 215km long high-speed railway line from London to Birmingham will be in tunnels. For excavation of these tunnels, BBV will oreder a second TBM for its twin tube drives in Birmingham and the SCS Skanska, Costain, Strabag JV will require six TBMs, two for excavation of the 7km-long Euston tunnels between Euston and Old Oak Common Stations in London and another four for the 14km-long Northolt Tunnels on its contract packages S1 and S2.

In contract packages C2 and C3 by the EKFB, Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial, BAM Nuttall JV there is the green tunnel which is planned as a cut and cover operation.

About 56km of the 215km route is underground (in black)
About 56km of the 215km route is underground (in black)

In industry tradition, and in honour of Santa Barbara as the patron saint of miners and tunnellers, the TBMs will be given female names ahead of launch. In a competition among pupils of local schools, the first two TBMs will be named after a short list of three famous women: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the astronomer and astrophysicist born in Buckinghamshire who became Chair of Astronomy at Harvard University in the USA; Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who spent many years in Claydon, Buckinghamshire where she wrote numerous books on nursing; and Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice.

The suppliers and names of the additional TBMs to be employed on the £35-45 billion Phase 1 project will be reported as the information becomes known and confirmed. TunnelTalk is prepared to continue its coverage of this important project into and through construction, and on to the programmed phased opening of full line between 2029 and 2036.


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