Changing the London skyline with HS2

Source: RTM Feb/March 2019

Lisa Hogben, HS2 programme delivery manager for area south enabling works, explains how the arrival of HS2’s first tower cranes shows change is coming to London Euston.

On Monday 14 January, HS2’s first cranes appeared on the capital’s skyline. There for all to see, the two new cranes tower over the current 1960s station, signalling that change is afoot at Euston.

That change is being led, on the ground, by our enabling works contractors: a Costain/Skanska team (CSjv) and their specialist subcontractors. They are part of a complex project that will eventually see a major new high-speed station build to the west of the current station, with the first services departing in 2026.

Designed to more than double capacity at Euston, HS2 will transform the station, unlock opportunities for new jobs and homes, and fundamentally improve journeys for the millions of people who use the station every year.

As someone who has been working on this transformative project since the planning stage, the arrival of the first cranes has been both a professional and personal highlight for me, and the team. Delivered in early January and assembled over four days, one 66m-high crane is situated between the two towers that currently dominate the Euston Station piazza – Grant Thornton House and One Euston Square.

CSjv and expert subcontractor McGee have been hard at work for some time, stripping out the interior of each building and erecting external scaffolding and internal propping. The tower crane will allow us to move forward with the next stage of the process and enable some of the heavy lifting to commence. Both towers will be slowly and carefully disassembled from top to bottom over the coming year.

A second tower crane to the west of the towers – by subcontractors John F Hunt – will facilitate the demolition of the buildings on Euston Street, including the former Wolfson House and Walkden House office blocks.

The two towers form part of the enabling works south portfolio of over 50 demolition sites, 500 live work locations, and 10 operational site compounds serving the 25.8km route from Euston to the Colne Valley. Our works are delivered by an integrated team of over 1,300 people made up of HS2, CSjv, and our subcontractors. 

Back at ground level, progress across London has also been strong. Already, we have demolished 15 of our 52 structures across the route, including DB Cargo, a disused train maintenance depot north of Euston station; two huge gantry cranes at Willesden Euroterminal; and all of the buildings handed over by GWR as part of Stage 1 of our works at Old Oak Common depot.

Over the course of this year, in the Euston area alone, CSjv, together with subcontractors John F Hunt, McGee, Keltbray, Armac, and Clifford Devlin, will be demolishing almost 30 buildings, with 98% of the spoil diverted from landfill – an ambitious target for any project. For HS2, the future is most definitely exciting, but we have to keep one foot firmly in the present, working hard to be a good neighbour and minimise disruption to our stakeholders.

On a challenging inner-city project like this, our focus has always got to be on the neighbours. That’s why we’ve been working closely with Network Rail, London Underground, and local businesses and residents to make sure we get the right plans in place to limit disruption to people who work and live around the station, as well as those who travel through it. That means keeping road closures to a minimum, deploying a team of 40 customer experience representatives to guide people safely around the works, and of course keeping busses, trains, and taxis running as normal.

I’m pleased that we are achieving our goals whilst keeping Euston moving, and we look forward to seeing the two towers slowly come down over the coming year, clearing the way for Euston’s next big transformation.


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