HS2: Work Begins on UK’s Longest Rail Viaduct

HS2 has started work on what will be the UK’s longest railway bridge, the Colne Valley Viaduct.

Ground engineers sank the first of almost 300 piles that will make up the foundations of the bridge this week. Once completed, the viaduct will carry Britain’s new high-speed railway for 3.4km over a number of lakes and waterways to the northwest of London. The Colne Valley Viaduct will be almost 1km longer than the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland and the trains crossing it will be travelling at speeds of up to 200mph (320km/h). The viaduct will be around 10m above ground and be supported by 56 piers.

Colne Valley Viaduct concepts created for HS2 by Grimshaw Architects
Colne Valley Viaduct concepts created for HS2 by Grimshaw Architects

Over the coming year Align JV engineers will construct a total of 292 piles under the ground, which will support the viaduct’s piers. Some of these piles will go up to 55m into the ground. Sitting atop them will be a concrete pile cap to support the pier. The bridge structure will weigh 6,000 tons. Align JV won’t hammer the piles into the ground – it will bore holes and backfill them to create the pile.

HS2 Ltd’s Central 1 Project Client Rohan Perin, said:

“The Colne Valley Viaduct will be one of HS2’s most iconic structures and it’s great to see work now starting in earnest. I’d like to thank the whole team for the huge amount of work they’ve done to get us to this point.”

HS2 Ltd has worked with Affinity Water and the Environment Agency to keep track of water quality and agree on working methods. Specialist engineers will continue to track these during construction.

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