Tunnel boring machine Lydia has finished her 853-metre journey into the Old Oak Commo station box in west London to complete the construction of the Atlas Road logistics tunnel.
This tunnel may never be needed and, if it is, will be filled in again after just a few years.
Because this tunnel is not for HS2 trains at all but is simply to facilitate construction of the final southern section of the new London-Birmingham line, taking it from Old Oak Common (its intermediate London terminus) to Euston (its planned eventual terminus).
However, when the government cancelled the final northern section of HS2 last year it also put the planned Euston station on hold, pending a review of alternative funding options. Despite this, HS2 Ltd is ploughing on with its preparations.
The 6.2-metre internal diameter logistics tunnel will eventually allow materials required for the Euston tunnel to be transported to site without getting stuck in London traffic.
And if/when the tunnel to Euston is finally built, and up and running, the logistics tunnel will be backfilled.
HS2’s London tunnels contractor, Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture (SCS JV) constructed the logistics tunnel using a TBM made from components repurposed from a machine previously used to construct London’s Elizabeth Line (Crossrail, as was).
The TBM broke through into the eastern end of the Old Oak Common underground station box on 23rd January 2024. Old Oak Common underground station is being built by a separate joint venture, Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra (BBVS JV). Later this year, SCS JV will lower two additional TBMs into the box and assemble them ready to bring the HS2 line into Euston. Once they are in place BBVS JV will seal the box and continue to construct HS2’s west London station.
Over the past nine months, TBM Lydia has removed 62,000 tonnes of London clay, all of which has been sent by rail for reuse across the UK, and has installed 535 concrete rings. The segments for the tunnel rings were manufactured by Spanish firm Pacadar at its yard on the Isle of Grain in north Kent.
SCS JV managing director James Richardson said: “The completion of the Atlas Road logistics tunnel paves the way for us to deliver our London tunnels programme to Euston. The tunnel supports our continued commitment to reducing cost and carbon by removing one million lorry journeys off London’s roads.”
HS2 Ltd project client director Malcolm Codling added: “The completion of the Atlas Road logistics tunnel takes us closer along our journey to bring HS2 into central London at Euston. The logistics tunnel is a key part of our plans to enable us to construct the Euston tunnel and will reduce the construction impact on the local community.”
Elsewhere on the line, the Chiltern tunnel TBMs are due to complete their work by spring, and this will be the second twin bored tunnel that has completed by HS2, alongside the Long Itchington tunnel. Further north, HS2 is working to complete the Bromford tunnel. In London, two further TBMs are about to launch, part of the quartet of TBMs boring the Northolt tunnel.