Engineers have begun the delicate task of sliding nearly half a kilometre of bridge deck into position for the colossal Wendover Dean viaduct.
The 450-metre-long viaduct will be the first major railway bridge in the UK to utilise a "double composite" approach, significantly reducing its carbon footprint. This revolutionary technique, using less carbon-intensive concrete and steel, has allowed HS2 to halve the embedded carbon in the structure.
"Double composite structures maximise the combined strength of steel and concrete," explained Tomas Garcia, HS2 Ltd's head of civil structures. "This approach has proven successful worldwide, and it's fantastic to see it applied on this scale for the first time in the UK at Wendover Dean."
Beyond its environmental benefits, the viaduct plays a vital role in HS2's mission. "Once complete, HS2 will enhance the existing rail network by freeing up capacity and almost halving journey times between London and Birmingham," Garcia said. "This viaduct will be instrumental in those faster and more reliable services, and I hope it inspires other projects to consider this innovative approach."
We have started a year-long, half-kilometre viaduct deck slide! 🤩👇.— HS2 Ltd (@HS2ltd) January 11, 2024
The first of three giant sections of the Wendover Dean Viaduct deck has been slid into position.
The 450m-long viaduct will be the first major railway bridge in the UK to be built with a ‘double composite’… pic.twitter.com/JwoSmykHhP
The deck, weighing up to 3,700 tonnes by the end of the year, is being assembled and pushed into place in three stages, utilising a winch and Teflon pads for a smooth, controlled slide. This meticulous process is the longest deck slide on the HS2 project to date.
"The project team has reached a fundamental milestone in the build of this industry-leading viaduct," said James Collings, EKFB's senior engineer. "We're proud to be delivering this viaduct safely and to schedule, along with our partners."
Innovation extends beyond the construction technique. The viaduct's "weathering steel" beams will naturally blend with the surrounding countryside, requiring no painting. This approach, also used on the nearby Small Dean Viaduct, reduces the structure's environmental impact further.
Supported by nine evenly spaced piers, some reaching 14 meters high, the Wendover Dean Viaduct stands as a testament to engineering ingenuity and environmental consciousness. Its completion promises not only faster rail travel but also a blueprint for more sustainable infrastructure projects in the future.
Photo Credit: HS2