HS2 unveils major London logistics hub in Willesden

Described as the ‘beating heart of HS2 in London’, the vast 30-acre site near Willesden Junction in the capital has been officially opened by HS2 Ltd, with operations already well underway to begin its crucial role in processing materials coming both in and out of the major infrastructure project.

The hub has been constructed and is to be operated by Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV), HS2’s Main Works Civils Contractor, and aims to take one million lorry movements off UK roads during its operational lifespan.

The site chosen for the logistics hub previously served as the Freightliner Terminal, first opened in 1967, as well as becoming one of nine regional freight terminals developed to specifically handle intermodal traffic from the Channel Tunnel. Since 2005, the site had fallen into disuse, but given its existing connections to the conventional railway, it had been identified as an ideal location to serve as HS2’s London logistical base of operations.

First freight train is loaded at Willesden

As part of this, it will be the site where earth removed from the 26 miles of tunnelling taking place in and around London for HS2 will be processed, as well as where critical construction materials such as precast tunnel segment rings are delivered.

A total of 5.6 million tonnes of earth is required to be excavated to construct HS2’s London tunnels.

After being processed at the Willesden site, it will then be taken by train to three UK locations to be put to beneficial reuse, such as filling voids which will then be used as a basis for redevelopment, such as housebuilding.

These selected sites are at Barrington in Cambridgeshire, Cliffe in Kent, and Rugby in Warwickshire.

The site will also see over 100,000 precast tunnel segment rings received by rail, from manufacturing sites across the UK. The first contract for these segment rings has already been confirmed by SCS JV and will see them delivered to the Willesden site from Pacadar UK’s factory in the Isle of Grain in Kent.

At peak operation, eight trains per day will depart and arrive at the vast logistics hub, helping to maximise the use of rail freight in the construction of HS2 in the capital.

Speaking at the opening of HS2’s Logistics Hub, HS2’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Thurston, said: ““In building Britain’s new high-speed railway, HS2 is committed to protecting the environment and minimising our carbon footprint during design, construction and operation. As a result, we are moving as much material as we can by rail as part of our Materials by Rail programme.

“The logistics hub at Willesden will be the beating heart of our London logistics operation and is a critical part of how we are building HS2.”

The operation is being coordinated from a refurbished building on the site. Sheffield based SME, 3Squared, has developed a bespoke rail logistics software solution to manage and track the railway materials movements in and out.

Ongoing work at the Willesden logistics hub

SCS JV Managing Director, James Richardson, added: "The logistics hub is central to the London tunnels programme.

“Collaborating with other partners delivering HS2, we will remove 5.6million tonnes of spoil by rail and bringing in our tunnel segments, taking one million lorry journeys off the road.

“We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and by using rail we will reduce our carbon emissions for logistics by 40%."

RTM Aug/Sept 21

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Our August/September 2021 edition of RTM covers many of the changing aspects of the rail industry, including key changes involving infrastructure and stations. Read our breakdown of the key milestones with HS2 between now and 2024, while elsewhere we investigate the role which hydrogen fuels could have on UK rolling stock. We also delve into the ever-growing digital world of the rail industry, while from Page 65 onwards, we include our Railtex / Infrarail 2021 supplement – your chance to gain a wealth of valuable information about the exhibition, right at your fingertips.

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