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Strabag delivers HS2’s first Hartlepool segments

The first tunnel segments are now arriving at Willesden Junction

The segments are being delivered by rail – avoiding traffic congestion and reducing vehicle emissions – via a rail head that had not been used for over 15 years.

Strabag’s factory is located on the site of an old oil-rig fabrication yard and its development has has helped create over 100 jobs for local people, including a number of people who were previously unemployed.

The investment has extended to the rail head which runs alongside the factory, working with Network Rail to bring the disused line back into service and connecting it to the UK rail network.

Strabag is sourcing aggregate from local quarries and using UK recycled steel.

HS2 project client director Malcolm Codling said that Strabag’s investment in Hartlepool “is an example of how HS2 is benefiting the UK economy.

“Reinstating the rail head demonstrates a commitment to a long term future for the factory and supports HS2’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact through construction,” he added.

HS2’s London tunnels contractor, Skanska Costain Stragab joint venture (SCS JV), is receiving the segments at its London logistics hub near Willesden Junction. From there, the segments will be transported to Victoria Road crossover box in Acton.

The segments will be used to construct the Northolt Tunnel East, a 3.4-mile twin bore tunnel drive from Victoria Road in Acton to Greenford. At Greenford, the tunnel will connect to the Northolt Tunnel West, and combined will complete the 8.4-mile tunnel taking HS2 services from Old Oak Common Station to the edge of the capital.

SCS JV will launch the two tunnel boring machines (TBM), named Emily and Anne, in the new year.

Strabag UK managing director Simon Wild said: “Following on from our multi-million pound investment into Hartlepool, we’re delighted to see the first trains leaving for London. The direct access from the factory to the rail network is a huge location advantage that enables us to reduce the number of journeys by lorry and carbon emissions.”

His colleague James Richardson, managing director of Skanska, Costain, Strabag joint venture, added: “The first delivery of tunnel segments from Hartlepool prepares us for a great year of delivery in 2024. 

“From January our two newest TBMs, Emily and Anne, will use the segments to construct the eastern section of the Northolt Tunnel.

“By using rail to move 83,000 tunnel segments, we will reduce road congestion, cut CO2 emissions by 76% and pave the way to a greener, cleaner future.”

Each freight train, operated by Freightliner, can carry segments for up to 20 tunnel lining rings, enough to build 38 metres of tunnel. Each train making the seven-hour journey from Hartlepool to London removes the need for 40 lorries on the UK’s road network, reducing congestion and carbon emissions. Trains will run six times a week between Hartlepool and London.

Strabag also has the contract to supply the segments for HS2’s tunnel between Old Oak Common and Euston. Following the government’s Network North announcement in October this is now on hold while alternative funding arrangements for Euston are considered.

For both the Northolt Tunnel East and Euston Tunnel, over 83,000 precast tunnel segments will be produced.  Each ring has an 8.8m outside diameter, is 350mm thick and weighs seven tonnes.

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