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How Will Updated Rail Designs Help HS2’s Climate Objectives?

3 min

Credit: HS2
HS2 designers have reduced the number of wall structures for a railway at Steethay near Lichfield to support HS2’s ambition to cut carbon on the project. Quadrant Transport looks at how the updated rail designs will benefit the local community.

The updated rail designs see the length of the wall structures for the railway at Streethay reduced from 1.6 kilometres to 420 metres, meaning the project will need 80 per cent less concrete.

In this project area, 70,000 cubic metres of concrete will be saved, equivalent to 6,700 concrete mixer lorry loads. In addition to this, it is said that around 420,000 tonnes of carbon have been saved.

Lichfield’s Community Will See Less Rail Disruptions

Due to fewer large machines being needed on the site, the shortening of the retaining structures also means the community will experience less noise and disruption during construction.

Most of the Streethay cutting will not have sloping earth banks, improving the visual appearance of the railway and increasing the opportunity for wildlife habitats and landscape planting to protect against noise from the railway. The updated design will also show a shorter diversion of the Fulfen Wood watercourse.

To allow HS2 to build the cutting, the A38 southbound slip road at Steethay will be closed from Monday 1 August for 15 months from 9 pm and will reopen, before rush hour, at 5:30 am each morning.

Senior Project Manager for HS2 Ltd, Simon Hinsley, said: “As we’ve been developing the detailed design for HS2, it’s vital that we try to minimise impacts and get the best solution for the communities near the new railway line.

“We listened to the community back in 2017 and changed the design from the viaduct to cutting, and we’re pleased that these further updates bring more benefits, both for the local community and the environment – better visuals, less carbon from concrete, shorter construction period and more environmental features.”

80% less concrete will be needed for the updated HS2 designs of the railway at Streethay. HS2

The Improved Rail Design Is Thanks To Community Feedback

Early proposed designs showed that the railway would cross over the A38 Rykneld Street, A38 southbound slip road, and the South Staffordshire train line.

However, because of community feedback received during the public consultation, the design was changed in 2017, with HS2 now passing beneath these roads and the railway in a cutting, which is said to reduce the visual impact of HS2 in the area significantly.

Head of Stakeholder Engagement for Balfour Beatty Vinci, Andy deBell, said: “We’re pleased to confirm these new and improved design changes, which we’ve introduced after working closely with the local community.

“This new design will see the HS2 line pass underneath the A38 and neighbouring railway line, bringing significant environmental and community benefits. We’ll need to work on the slip road to the south to deliver these changes, which we understand will cause some localised disruption. However, we’ll do everything we can to minimise any impact as much as possible. Phased traffic management and signposted diversions will be in place during this phase of the work.

“We’ll continue to make sure the local community is kept updated, providing more detail on the works before they begin and during construction.”

There’ll also be opportunities in the near future for local residents and businesses to attend community drop-in sessions, where they can find out more about what’s going on in their area.

Environmental and community benefits will be seen through this project, such as less disruption for local communities, more planting to blend with the area’s natural landscape character and the cut of carbon on the project.