HS2 north portal site ready for tunnel boring machine

HS2 north portal site ready for tunnel boring machine

Excavation of HS2’s north portal site of Long Itchington Wood Tunnel is now complete and ready for the launch of the tunnel boring machine that will dig under the ancient woodland in Warwickshire.

The construction firm, Collins Earthworks, is contracted to HS2’s main works contractor BBV Joint Venture (Balfour Beatty Group and VINCI Construction), which is in control of building the northern section of HS2 as it heads into Birmingham.

Since April 2020, 120 people from the earthworks company have worked on the HS2 site, with several new plant operatives also employed from the area, providing jobs for locals during the pandemic.

The team has dug approximately 300,000m3 of soil, with the topsoil and subsoils stored and separated with a layer of straw, so they can be put back in the same way after the tunnel has been built.

At the busiest period, there was a total of 35 machines on the site, all using the newest technology to lower emissions. The company’s construction fleet uses revolutionary engines, with exhaust systems that efficiently break down Nitrogen Oxide gases into harmless elements before being expelled from the vehicle.

The machine is currently at the prepared site in pieces from the manufacturer Herrenknecht and will be put together ready to start digging the tunnel in the summer.

Aiden Goggins, BBV’s Construction Director at the Long Itchington Wood Tunnel site said: “The Long Itchington Wood Tunnel site is one of the project’s largest, and Collins Earthworks have worked for nearly a year to carefully excavate material which will be reused to form environmental embankments and landscape for the railway.

“The tunnel in this location preserves the ancient woodland, so forms a key element in how we are managing environmental impacts through the design of the railway. Reducing emissions and managing the impact that machinery has on the environment is a key priority for HS2 and Balfour Beatty VINCI, and we’re pleased that Collins Earthworks have introduced the latest technology in their fleet to help us reduce our carbon footprint.”

David Collins, CEO of Collins Earthworks, said: “Working on HS2 has provided our business with ongoing work through the pandemic, ensuring we can continue to support jobs for our 370 employees in the Midlands. We are delivering a start-to-finish service, encompassing site clearance, then providing the right machines and fully trained labour to carry out all project management and execution on-site, as well as recycling materials for future use on the project.

“Our growth is set to continue, and projects like HS2 enable us to continue to focus on providing training for all staff to maintain our high standards of health and safety practices. We’re also proud to be included in the prestigious list from the London Stock Exchange of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain, which celebrates some of the fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK and Europe.”

Image: HS2 Ltd 

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