Giant HS2 bridge moved into place in Warwickshire

HS2's 5,600 tonne bridge moving into place

A huge HS2 railways bridge has been moved into place in the West Midlands. 

A team of 250 people worked around the clock to move the 5,600 tonne bridge into place under the Coventry to Leamington Spa railway in Warwickshire. 

The operation to slide the 22 metres long and 11 metres wide bridge into position took five-and-a-half hours and was completed 27 hours ahead of schedule.

From the start of blockade on Saturday, July 29, 113 metres of the existing rail track and 188 rail sleepers were removed by the team, then 15,000 cubic metres of ground including hard sandstone material was excavated to create the space for the bridge to be moved into.

It was moved into place using five 3.8 tonne jacks on a sliding surface, designed by specialist civil and structural engineering company Freyssinet, which allowed the bridge to be jacked on a guiding raft slab over a distance of 47 metres.

It moved at around nine meters per hour reaching its final position at 3.30am on Monday, July 31. This innovative construction method allows the bridge to be moved in one movement, which dramatically reduces disruption for rail passengers.

In the coming days, the team working 24/7 will backfill around the structure and put the rail track back in place above it, ready for the railway to be re-opened at 8.30am on Sunday, August 6.

The structure will allow the high speed railway to pass underneath the existing Coventry to Leamington Spa line. 

In the short term it will also allow construction traffic to pass under this line, reducing the number of lorries on the public highways. 

This is the third major bridge move undertaken by HS2 in the last two weeks, as construction ramps up on all the structures, including bridges and viaducts, where HS2 will intersect with existing railway lines and roads in the West Midlands.

On July 17, a 6,200 tonne bridge was moved into place by an 840-wheeled transporter at Fulfen Wood near Lichfield under the existing West Coast Main Line. 

On July 28, a 2,600 tonne bridge was also driven under the existing South Staffordshire freight railway line at nearby Streethay.

James Briggs, HS2’s project manager overseeing the bridge move under the Coventry to Leamington railway, said: “The team have done a brilliant job moving this 5,600 tonne bridge way ahead of schedule, and I’d like to thank everyone for pulling together to deliver such an efficient and safe operation.

“The bridge was built on-site adjacent to the existing railway – an innovative approach which means it takes days, not months, to safely complete our works, keeping disruption to a minimum for rail passengers.

“This is another great example of HS2’s world-leading approach to engineering and shows the vast progress we are making to bring high-speed rail to the Midlands and the North.” 

HS2’s civils contracts Balfour Beatty VINCI is delivering the construction work, and a design JV of Mott MacDonald and Systra delivered the design.

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