Rail deliveries of HS2 materials in London help remove a million miles of lorry journeys

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HS2 in the UK has announced that its move to using rail for the delivery of tunnel ring segments to the West Ruislip Portal site in Hillingdon, London, has removed one million miles of lorry movements from Britain’s congested roads.

Since February 2023, HS2’s London tunnels contractor, the Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture, has received deliveries of the tunnel ring segments by freight train rather than road – an option which became available once the two Tunnel Boring Machines, named Sushila and Caroline, had been launched and space to access the rail head on site became available.

HS2 Ltd – the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network – is committed to moving materials by rail or waterways where possible, reducing the impact on the UK’s congested road network.

Pacadar UK, based at Thamesport on the Isle of Grain in Kent, is manufacturing the tunnel ring segments for the Northolt Tunnel West, producing 60,000 segments which will form 8,400 rings, for five miles of twin-bored tunnel. The Pacadar factory is strategically located to enable deliveries to take place by rail freight.

Over 120 trains have now completed the journey between the Isle of Grain and West Ruislip, with an average of five trains per week delivering the tunnel ring segments. Each train delivers 144 segments, which when installed underground, makes up over 20 tunnel rings.

Speaking about the materials by rail program at West Ruislip Portal, Pat Cawley, HS2’s director for On Network Works, said, “HS2 is committed to responsible construction and using the rail network as much as possible to deliver materials. By using freight routes to deliver tunnel ring segments manufactured by Pacadar to our West Ruislip tunnelling site, thousands of lorry movements will not be required.

“Our freight programme is a result of extensive collaboration between HS2 Ltd, our contractors, Network Rail and the freight operators and we anticipate that over 20 million tonnes of materials will be moved by rail on Phase One of the HS2 programme.”

400 freight trains are expected to be used to deliver the tunnel segments over the period when the tunnel is being constructed. It is anticipated that this will reduce the carbon impact of the logistics operation by approximately 2,250 tons, all part of how HS2 and its contractors are approaching construction in an environmentally sustainable way.

James Richardson, managing director of the Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture, added, “By using 120 trains instead of lorries to move tunnel segments from Thamesport to our TBMs in West Ruislip, we’ve curbed transport-related emissions by 750 tons of CO2 so far, reaching the remarkable milestone of a million avoided lorry miles. This is just the beginning. Overall, across the life of our partnership with Pacadar, we’re projected to reduce our carbon impact by 2,250 tonnes.

“When construction, manufacturing and rail freight industries work together to maximise transport efficiency, we save money, achieve reduced emissions, cut lorry traffic, and strengthen our industry-wide commitment to achieving a cleaner, greener, low-carbon future,” Richardson continued.