Bridge slide across the M42 in Warwickshire

HS2 complete the world’s longest bridge slide

HS2 has successfully completed a world’s first box ‘bridge slide’, as a team of 450 slid a 12,600 tonne bridge a record 165 metres into position across the M42 during the Christmas period.

This significant operation took place over a 40-hour block of time, at the steady speed of 4 metres per hour between Saturday 24 to Monday 26 December. This was conducted during a 10-day closure of the motorway between Junctions J9 and J10 (northbound and southbound), seeing it officially reopen today.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman said:

“This is yet another astonishing achievement by HS2 - a project which is already changing lives through employment and regeneration and will completely transform the way we live and work once trains hit the tracks.

 “Thank you to the 450 people working over the Christmas period on this incredible operation, who are playing their part in bringing this pioneering project to life. What a way to end the year.”

HS2 Civils Delivery Director, Mike Lyons said:

 “This is the first box slide of its kind over a motorway in the UK, and we believe it’s also the world’s longest slide, so it’s a great achievement for HS2 as we quickly approach peak construction. It’s fantastic to celebrate another big milestone for a project that is already providing work for almost 30,000 people today, and in the future, it will encourage people to use zero carbon public transport.”

Throughout the last six months, this giant 86-metre-long super structure was built on the land adjacent to the motorway, being developed through a Design Joint Venture of Mott MacDonald and Systra, working on behalf of BBV.

The sliding mechanism itself has allowed the box to be pushed into place across the motorway, using a guiding raft that directed the structure over a distance of 163 metres, estimated to be the world’s longest box slide. This construction method, which allowed it to be moved into place in one movement meant only two one-week closures of the motorway over a 12-month period, dramatically reducing disruption for road users.

Upon the completion of overall works, the whole structure will total around 190 metres in length and will ambitiously carry the HS2 rolling stock over the motorway as they plough ahead towards the north to Crewe and the southbound journeys as they loop into Birmingham Curzon Street. the railway bridge will connect to Dunton Wood Embankment to the south and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Viaduct, which crosses the heritage canal, to the north.

The sheer size and scale of this box slide operation saw it come as part of HS2’s 550,000 square metre site at Kingsbury, where over 1,000 people are currently working, representing a healthy chunk of the wider 6,800 strong workforce.

National Highways Senior Network Planner, Frank Bird said:

“We’d like to say a big thank-you to motorists for their patience during the closure of the M42. It’s never easy to close a busy motorway such as the M42 for an extended period of time but it has been vital to ensure the safety of the workforce and motorists while this work is taking place.

“We’ve been working collaboratively with HS2 for the past 18 months to ensure the operation ran smoothly and to help keep disruption to a minimum for drivers. The installation of the new Marston Box bridge is a significant milestone in the HS2 project and it’s great to see it finally in place.”

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