HS2 commits further resources to rail freight operations
The company formed to build the UK’s high-speed rail project, HS2 Limited, has already made a sizeable commitment to moving construction materials by rail freight. Now, in the environmentally and politically sensitive Buckinghamshire corridor, the company says it will take an extra 28,000 trucks off the roads around the prosperous county.
HS2 has confirmed a decision to move more material by rail into construction sites near the administrative county-town of Aylesbury. The company says their move to take the equivalent of an extra 28,500 lorries off Buckinghamshire’s roads will save 9,680 tonnes of carbon emissions. The move to cut lorry numbers will help reduce disruption for communities and comes as construction work continues on the early stages of the new high-speed rail line, which will pass to the west of the town. Already, after intense lobby and pressure from environmental groups, much of the new railway line will tunnel under the county or be concealed in deep cuttings.
New Aylesbury terminal
HS2 has already run more than 500 freight trains into its site at Calvert in Buckinghamshire since the first railhead there opened in December 2020. The opening of a new bulk material handling railhead facility on the Prince’s Risborough line, south of Aylesbury, will allow a further 285,000 tonnes of aggregate needed for construction to be delivered over the next four months.
Much of the material generated by the works comes from excavating the Chiltern Tunnel section and delivering initials works such as the temporary haul roads and internal access roads, which will access the main construction sites. There has been widespread publicity around the archaeological investigations, which have been put forward as the most extensive ever on an infrastructure project in the UK.
Cut and cover ‘green tunnels’
Emphasising the new line’s projected capacity and environmental benefits, HS2 Limited’s senior project manager, Paul Marshall, said the line will offer low carbon journey options linking London with the major cities of the north and release capacity for more freight and local trains on the existing mainlines. “It’s also important that we cut the amount of embedded carbon in construction and work to reduce the number of lorries on local roads”, he said. “That’s why I’m really pleased by the progress we have made – working closely with Network Rail, EKFB and the rail freight operators – to deliver more material by rail to our construction sites [across Buckinghamshire].”
The construction of the central section of the HS2 project – through Buckinghamshire, South Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire – is managed by the HS2 main works contractor, EKFB – a consortium made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and Bam Nuttall. EKFB is delivering 80km in total, including 17 viaducts, 81 bridges, three cut and cover ‘green tunnels‘, and is set to create 3,000 jobs over the next two years.
The trains into Calvert were operated by DB Cargo and Hanson, which will also be operating the railhead into Aylesbury. According to HS2, around 15,000 freight trains are set to be used to haul 10 million tonnes of aggregate to construction sites – taking the equivalent of 1.5 million heavy goods vehicles off the UK roads.