Construction of the UK’s longest railway bridge has begun. The Colne Valley Viaduct is expected to stretch 2.1 miles or 3.4 km and will carry high-speed trains approximately 33 feet above a series of lakes and waterways.
The viaduct is located just outside North West London in the Hillingdon area, a short walk from Buckinghamshire. A 160-metre-long bridge-building machine called a ‘launching beam’ will be used to lift the giant concrete segments that form the arches of the viaduct into position.
Each segment weighs up to 140 tons and they are manufactured in a nearby temporary factory that was built specifically for the project. Production of the segment began in February and is expected to be completed in just under three years.
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The viaduct is expected to be completed by summer 2025. The launch girder is the only one of its kind in the UK and was built in 2004.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: ‘Today (31 May) HS2 began construction of what is expected to be Britain’s longest railway viaduct, a historic moment for HS2 and a feat for the British engineering, taking the HS2 line from London and into Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Infrastructure is the backbone of HS2 and this viaduct will be key to delivering faster journeys and an increased capacity rail network.
HS2 Ltd Managing Director Mark Thurston said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have started assembling the giant deck segments that will form the Colne Valley Viaduct. This is yet another milestone for HS2 Ltd, as we work to deliver the UK’s new high-speed railway.
“Once completed, this record-breaking structure will be a key part of the HS2 railway – helping to deliver better connections across the UK, freeing up rail capacity on the rail network and giving passengers a travel option carbon free.
This work is part of a £1.6 billion contract as part of a joint venture with Align. The viaduct is intended to minimize its impact on the environment and is placed low in the landscape.