1.9 million cubic metres of rock and earth to be excavated as work starts on two of HS2’s longest cuttings


BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial, HS2, Kier,


HS2 main works contractor EKFB – a joint venture between Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall, has started work on two of the longest cuttings for the HS2. 

The 2.5 miles (4.1km) Barton Hartshorn to Mixbury cutting, near Brackley, will be the project’s longest cutting, with 1.3 million cubic metres of material set to be excavated in stages over the next three years. The equivalent of more than twenty Royal Albert Hall’s worth of rock and earth must be excavated to provide a level bed for the railway.

Almost 28,000 jobs are currently supported by the HS2 project, designed to improve transport links between London, the Midlands and the North and boost growth across the UK.

Running across the boundaries between Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, the cutting will be up to 11m deep. It will be crossed by six roads, foot and bridleway bridges to keep communities connected.

Material from the excavation – expected to be a mix of Clay, Sand, Gravel and Limestone – will be reused elsewhere on the project to help create embankments, noise barriers and landscaping. Sourcing these materials on-site also helps to reduce the number of lorries on local roads.

“Construction is now well underway across the whole first phase of the HS2 project, with almost 28,000 jobs supported across the UK, and our initial earthworks made good progress over the summer. Some of the longest cuttings will be in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, reducing noise and visual impact for residents while carrying the new high-speed line under a series of road and railway bridges. It’s great to see a strong start to work on-site,” says HS2 Ltd’s Project Client, Rohan Perin. 

The excavation also recently started at the nearby Calvert cutting, which will take the line for 2.1 miles (3.4km) past the Buckinghamshire villages of Calvert Green and Steeple Claydon, roughly following the route of the disused Great Central Railway, which closed in the 1960s.

The cutting will take the line under four road bridges and the new East-West Rail route, which is also currently under construction.

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. Other major cuttings at Turweston in Northamptonshire, Waddesdon in Bucks, and Ladbroke, in South Warwickshire, are also well underway.

Construction of the two cuttings is being led by HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB – a joint venture between Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall.

“The earthworks at our longest cuttings are well underway, and progress is steaming forward. While our works continue to progress, we have our local communities in min,d and we’re continuously using our internal site access road to move people and materials around, reducing the impact on the local roads around our site areas,” says EKFB’s Deputy Project Director, Dan Hockey. 

Across the 80km section of the HS2 route through Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Northants, EKFB will need to shift approximately 36 million cubic metres of earth and rock over the next three years. Around 99% of this will be moved within HS2 land using a dedicated network of haul roads to reduce traffic on public roads.

The first phase of HS2 will include 70 cuttings to keep the railway level as it crosses the countryside between London and Birmingham.

Source: © High Speed Two Ltd 2022

Image Source: © High Speed Two Ltd 2022

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