Tunnel segments for HS2’s tunnels under west London have started arriving by freight railway from their manufacturing site in Hartlepool.

First Hartlepool train segments (c) HS2

The new Hartlepool based factory, a former oil-rig fabrication site, has direct access to the rail network through a rail head that had not been used in over 15 years, and each Freightliner train can carry up to 20 segment rings for the tunnels, which will be used to build 38 metres of the tunnel.

Each train that makes the seven-hour journey from Hartlepool to London will remove the need for 40 lorries on the UK’s road network, reducing congestion and carbon emissions, and the trains will run six times a week between Hartlepool and London.

If you want to see future railway tunnels arriving in London, you can track them on RealtimeTrains, if you look for departures from Hartlepool Dock Area.

First Hartlepool train front (c) HS2

HS2’s London tunnels contractor, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV), will receive the segments at the London Logistics Hub which is near to 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.

The next two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), named Emily and Anne, will be launched by SCS JV in the new year. They were recently lowered into the ground using a 750-tonne crane and blessed by a local priest.

Malcolm Codling, Project Client Director for HS2 Ltd, said: “As we prepare for the next set of tunnel drives in London, the start of deliveries of these vital parts is a further sign of momentum in the construction of HS2, building between London and the West Midlands.

“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.”

STRABAG have also been awarded the contract to supply the segments for HS2’s Euston tunnel between Old Oak Common and Euston. Following the government’s Network North announcement in October, alternative funding arrangements for Euston are being 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 35 centimetres thick and weighs seven tonnes.

Cutterhead of TBM Anne in situ on base of Victoria Road Crossover Box (c) HS2


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  1. Steve says:

    Can’t get my head around the maths. Each teain carries 20 segments, but removes 40 lorries? Each lorry carries 1/2 segment?

    I guess it’s 40 lorry journeys – 1 return journey for 20 lorries?

  2. Tony says:

    I think that each train carries the segments needed to build twenty rings of tunnel lining, with each ring comprising multiple segments (usually between five and eight). So each lorry would have carried several segments making up a half-ring on average.

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