Web Development by SUSTAINABLE

Construction Has Started On UK’s Longest Railway Bridge

3 min

Credit: HS2
HS2 Ltd has announced the start of the construction of the railway’s first and longest viaduct with the launch of a 700-tonne bridge-building machine. Quadrant Transport investigates how the bridge will benefit people and help the UK reach our net zero targets.

Once construction has been completed, the Colne Valley Viaduct will be the longest railway bridge in the UK, stretching for more than two miles (3.4km) across a series of lakes and waterways between Hillingdon and the M25.

It is designed to improve rail links between London, Birmingham and the North, help level up the economy and provide a low carbon alternative to car and air travel.

The Right Infrastructure In Place Is Key To Transport Sector Development

HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson, said: “Today, HS2 began construction on what’s set to be Britain’s longest railway viaduct, a landmark moment for HS2 and a feat of British engineering, taking the HS2 line from London, and into Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Infrastructure is the backbone of HS2, and this viaduct will be integral to delivering faster journeys and an increased capacity rail network.

Known as a ‘launching girder’, the machine has been shipped in pieces from Hong Kong and has been used on several projects there and in Singapore. Over the last few months, the machine has been put together by engineers on-site and is the only one of its kind operating in the UK.

At 18m-high, 18m-wide, and 160m-long, the machine will sit on top of the bridge piers and lift the concrete deck segments that form the viaduct’s arches into position. Once a section is complete, it will see the machine’s hydraulic rams push it forward and position it in place to build the next stage.

Launching girder for HS2's Colne Valley Viaduct Construction
Credit: HS2

Once the construction is complete, the factory and surrounding buildings will be removed, with the whole area between the viaduct and the Chiltern tunnel being transformed into the area of chalk grassland and woodland as part of the HS2’s ‘green corridor’ project.

Collaboration Is Important When It Comes To Major Projects Like This

Align Project Director, Daniel Altier, said: “The start of the erection of the deck segments marks the latest important milestone for Align, relating to the construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct.

“There has been a lot of hard work involved to get us to this point, and the achievements so far are a great example of what collaboration and excellent teamwork can deliver.

I would specifically like to acknowledge the contribution from our supply chain partners – VSL, Kilnbridge, KVJV, VolkerStevin, Tarmac, Sendin and Vaughan Plant Haulage.

Minimising Effects On The Environment Is Needed

To minimise the viaduct’s carbon footprint on the lakes and to ensure views of the natural surroundings, the design is said to be inspired by the flight of a stone skipping across the water.

The design of the Colne Valley Viaduct features a series of elegant spans, some up to 80m long, carrying the railway around 10m above the surface of the lakes, River Colne and Grand Union Canal.

Completion of the construction of three of four jetties across the lakes to get equipment into position has been done by the team, these will support the construction and help to take construction vehicles off local roads.

Major projects like this one by HS2 will not only benefit the travelling public and those working in the rail industry but it will help the UK reach our net zero targets by providing a low carbon alternative to the car and air travel.