East West Rail bridge lifted into place by HS2 engineers in Calvert, via HS2

Oxford to Cambridge connection boost through HS2 bridge installation

HS2 engineers have successfully lifted a new East West Rail bridge into position north of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, which will be used to carry direct rail services between Oxford and Cambridge. This comes as part of a collaborative project to deliver the high-speed rail line that is under construction between London, Birmingham, and the North of England.

The bridge deck for this infrastructure weighs in at the same as 25 double decker buses and will carry the East West Rail services linking Oxford, Bicester, Bedford and Cambridge. The earthworks and bridges along this route will improve the efficiency of services whilst helping to reduce the overall disruption to the local residents.

Welcoming the milestone, Beth West, EWR co CEO said:

“Local communities are now one step closer to enjoying the benefits of a new faster, more sustainable and affordable way to travel between all the communities from Oxford to Cambridge – and on across the country. East West Rail will connect thousands of people to jobs, families and friends with a reliable and safe service. The bridge installation over the Calvert cutting is a really important milestone in bringing EWR to life.

“The Government recently recommitted to East West Rail and construction of the stretch of railway between Bicester and Bletchley is being delivered as planned – both on time and on budget with passenger services between Oxford and Bletchley set to be operational from 2025.”

This hefty bridge near Calvert in Buckinghamshire was assembled on site, made up from weathering steel and coming in at 35m in length, is designed to naturally age throughout its lifecycle to a deep brown colour, helping to match the tone of surrounding countryside. This structure was lifted into position by HS2’s main works contractor EKFB, utilising a 600-tonne crawler crane over the space of a two-hour window.

HS2 Ltd.’s Senior Project Manager Paul Marshall said:

“HS2 will transform journeys between London, Birmingham, and the major cities of the north but it’s vital that we also maintain and enable links for communities on either side of the line. That’s why we have been working closely with East West Rail to get this crucial bridge into position and I’d like to thank everyone involved in getting us to this important moment for both our projects.”

The bridge itself will cross one of the cuttings involved with the HS2 project, roughly following along the route of a disused Great Central Railway, which has been closed since the 1960’s. The Calvert cutting, coming in at 2.1 miles in length, required around 685,000 cubic metres of material to be excavated and will be up to 9.7m deep whilst also being wide enough to allow extra local railway lines to be added alongside the HS2 main line at a later date.

Throughout the HS2 project, environmental maintenance and decarbonised practices have been a major focal point within construction and in keeping with this strategy, around 99% of the excavated materials will be moved using a dedicated network of haul roads to avoid extra traffic in public roads. These materials will then be reused for embankments, noise barriers and general landscaping. Over the last 20 months of the project, more than 15 million cubic metres of materials across the 80km between the Chilterns and South Warwickshire.

Alongside the bridge, HS2 is also delivering 650,000 cubic metres of earthworks, two smaller road bridges and a footbridge for East West Rail in the Calvert area. The first section of earthworks was handed over to East West Rail a few weeks ago.

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