HS2 builds new East West Rail bridge in Buckinghamshire

East West Rail bridge, HS2, UK,

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New bridge that will carry direct rail services between Oxford and Cambridge lifted into position by HS2’s contractor EKFB to pass over UK’s rail line near Calvert, Buckinghamshire.

Two of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects celebrated a joint milestone this week after a new bridge – that will carry direct rail services between Oxford and Cambridge – was lifted into position over the route of HS2, the high-speed rail line under construction between London, Birmingham and the North.

Engineers working for HS2 used an enormous 600-tonne crane to lift the new bridge into position north of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

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

HS2 is designed to help to improve north-south rail services, boost the economy and provide zero-carbon rail journeys. Construction is well underway, with more than 29,000 jobs supported by the project.

Earthworks and bridges on this short section, where the two projects cross, are being built by HS2 contractors to improve efficiency and reduce the overall disruption to local residents.

“Local communities are one step closer to enjoying the benefits of a new faster, more sustainable and affordable way to travel between all the communities from Oxford to Cambridge – and across the country. 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 cutting is a significant milestone in bringing EWR to life,” says EWR co CEO Beth West. 

“The Government recently recommitted to East West Rail, and construction of the stretch of railway between Bicester and Bletchley is being delivered as planned – both on time and budget with passenger services between Oxford and Bletchley set to be operational from 2025,” says EWR co CEO Beth West.

Weighing in at over 315 tonnes, the bridge near Calvert in Buckinghamshire was assembled on-site and lifted into position by an expert team led by HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB – a group made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and Bam Nuttall.

Made of weathering steel, the 35m long bridge is designed to naturally age over time to a dark brown colour to help match the tone of the surrounding countryside. It was lifted into position over two hours with a 600-tonne crawler crane.

HS2 will transform journeys between London, Birmingham and the major cities of the north, but it’s vital that we also maintain and enable links for communities on either side of the line. That’s why we have been working closely with East West Rail to get this crucial bridge into position, and I’d like to thank everyone involved in getting us to this important moment for both our projects,” says HS2 Ltd Senior Project Manager Paul Marshall. 

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

Around 685,000 cubic metres of material will be excavated to create the Calvert cutting up to 9.7m deep and wide enough to allow extra local railway lines to be added alongside the HS2 main line later date.

Around 99% of the material EKFB excavating will be kept within the HS2 site and moved using a dedicated network of haul roads to avoid extra traffic on public roads. It will then be resided for embankments, noise barriers and landscaping. Over the last 20 months, EKFB has shifted more than 15 million cubic metres of material across the 80km between the Chilterns and South Warwickshire.

Alongside the bridge, HS2 is also delivering 650,000 cubic metres of earthworks, two smaller road bridges and a footbridge for East West Rail in the Calvert area. The first section of earthworks was handed over to East West Rail a few weeks ago.

“The Calvert area is home to an important interface between two new railway networks which will see HS2 running underneath the East West Rail line. The build of this intersection, carried out by EKFB, was clearly thought out with our local communities at the forefront of our plans. To reduce disruption for residents, achieve maximum delivery efficiency and reduce costs, EKFB carried out the earthworks and the build of the new bridge for East West Rail. Now, we’re pleased to be able to lift the structural steel platform onto the bridge – a great milestone for our construction programme,” says EKFB Project Director Dave Newcombe. 

Source: © High Speed Two Ltd 2022

Image source: © High Speed Two Ltd 2022

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