Aerial view of Washwood Heath

HS2 Makes Major Progress at Washwood Heath Depot Site

A major milestone has been reached in the construction of HS2's Washwood Heath depot, with over one million cubic metres of earth excavated and reused on the site. It marks a significant step towards transforming the once-derelict land into a hub for the high-speed railway network.

The earthworks, led by HS2's construction partner Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), involved a strategic "cut and fill" operation. Excavated material was cleaned and repurposed to level the ground, paving the way for the detailed design and construction of the new maintenance depot and control centre starting in 2024.

HS2 are planning on the Washwood Heath depot to be more than just a maintenance facility however. It will serve as the "nerve centre" for the entire HS2 network, housing the Network Integrated Control Centre (NICC) and accommodating around 100 staff responsible for real-time operations.

Alongside the NICC, a stabling yard with 14 tracks, a dedicated maintenance building for HS2's fleet, and facilities for drivers and service personnel will complete the complex. Once operational, the depot is expected to generate around 550 jobs, boosting the local economy.

The site however has presented a unique challenge. Its long history as a railway yard and heavy industrial use over the past century left the ground heavily contaminated. Specialist contractors were then tasked with the cleanup process, ensuring the site was ready.

BBV used a recycle and reuse strategy, eliminating the need to import and export materials, and saving an estimated 27,200 road wagon journeys. Alongside this, it also minimised the project's impact on local communities.

"We're absolutely delighted with the progress made on site," said Alvin Pedzai, HS2 Project Manager responsible for main works civils delivery at Washwood Heath. "The earthworks and ground remediation programme is nearing completion, and we're on track to handover to HS2's Rail Systems team for the next exciting stage in bringing this once-derelict site back to life."

Tim Cook, project manager at Balfour Beatty VINCI, added: "Excavating one million cubic tonnes of earth is a testament to the incredible progress we're making at Washwood Heath. We've made every effort to recycle and reuse material on this brownfield site, breathing new life into a piece of Birmingham's industrial heritage."

With the earthworks nearing completion, BBV's focus will now shift towards finalizing the west tunnel portal. This will pave the way for two tunnel boring machines to break through, completing their 3.5-mile journey and establishing a vital link between Warwickshire and Birmingham.

Photo Credit: HS2

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