Contractors hit HS2 site clearance milestone

Tunnelling work for HS2 remains on course to start next year as demolition work to clear the route hits key milestones.

At Old Oak Common in West London, where a new station is to be built, the former Great Western Railway sheds have now all been cleared away. The demolition of the sheds was completed in four months by HS2 Ltd’s London early works contractor Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSjv) and subcontractor Erith, as part of ongoing work to clear the site ahead of the start of construction.

Next steps include working through 110,000 cubic metres of earth to clear the site of obstructions and remove any hotspots of contamination built up over a century of continuous railway use.

If the project is allowed to continue, Old Oak Common station is expected to be one of the busiest interchanges in the UK, with around 250,000 people passing through every day, since it will link HS2 with Elisabeth line (Crossrail) services to Heathrow and Central London, and trains to Wales and the West of England.

The station will be part of a wider Old Oak and Park Royal development, with 25,500 new homes planned.

Across the capital, more than two thirds of HS2 preparatory demolition work has now been completed, with more than 1,500 people at work on the project.

HS2 Ltd. programme director Matthew Botelle said: “HS2 will transform Old Oak Common, unlocking thousand of new jobs and homes around the station and improving journeys for millions of people travelling to Heathrow Airport, London, the midlands and the north. The demolition of the sheds is a major milestone for the project, and its great to see how much progress the team has already made as we work to deliver West London’s new super hub.

CSjv programme director Peter Jones said: “The successful delivery of this challenging project shows just what can be done when you get the right team together. Alongside HS2 Ltd and Erith, I’m proud to say we’ve built a diverse team at Old Oak Common, including local people, female engineers, apprentices and people with previous careers in the armed forces. Our colleagues are working hard to encourage more people from under-represented groups to consider careers in our industry”.

Originally built by the Great Western Railway in 1906, the 280 metre long sheds at Old Oak Common were part of a depot for locomotives running in and out of London Paddington, much of which was cleared in 2011 to make way for the neighbouring Crossrail depot.

Alongside the sheds, the contractors have also cleared the old Heavy Maintenance and Wheel Lathe Sheds as well as removing 40,000 tonnes of concrete slab which covered a quarter of the site. The former train wash was deconstructed and moved to Penzance to be installed in the new depot.

Overall, 98% of material from the demolition of the sheds and associated buildings has been recycled or reused, with the surplus track donated to heritage railways around the UK. The concrete slab was crushed on site with the material set to be reused during construction.

The adjacent 1970’s diesel shed is due to be demolished in the autumn, with the Heathrow Express buildings expected to remain for at least a year, before they are also removed to make way for construction of the new station.