Inside the empty station box at Old Oak Common looking up to the daylight overhead

HS2 progress on West London terminal

Going deeper underground. The station box at Old Oak Common begins to take shape. Image HS2 media centre

HS2, the British high speed rail project is still on track. The brakes may be firmly applied to work at Euston in Central London, but the throttle is wide open on work at Old Oak Common. The high speed rail project, connecting London and Birmingham, has been the subject of a radical rethink by the UK government, but there has been no pausing of work at the interim terminal in West London, where high speed trains, initially from Birmingham, will start to arrive before the end of the decade.

There has been further significant progress at the HS2 Old Oak Common Station site in the west of London. The vast complex will initially serve as the southern terminus of the high speed line, and will eventually become an interchange for HS2 trains, services on the Great Western Main Line, and the Elizabeth Line – which also serves Heathrow Airport. Although the concourse will be at surface level, the fourteen platforms will all be underground in a box almost a kilometre in length.

Reliance on rail freight

Construction of HS2’s station at Old Oak Common is continuing, despite the contentious UK government decision to slow down the project and pause certain phases. Nevertheless, the station in West London represents the interim southern terminus of the line. With Euston station officially on hold, work is concentrated on the vast engineering project adjacent to the Great Western Main Line. Even so, passengers en route to nearby Paddington will see no trains – just a huge site, dominated by construction cranes. All the railway action is happening, twenty metres underground.

Construction graphic of HS2 London Tunnels.
Construction graphic of HS2 London Tunnels. Work on the Euston Tunnel (green) has been paused.

The reliance on rail freight has been apparent throughout the project. The 850-metre “station box”, where the six platforms for HS2 trains will be located, has reached the first base slab concrete pour. That required the excavation of approximately 80,000 cubic metres of spoil. From the site, that material is being transported to HS2’s London Logistics Hub at Willesden Euroterminal via a conveyor system, negating the need for lorry movements on local roads. The spoil is taken by rail freight for reuse in Kent, Cambridgeshire and Cheshire. Once the west box is complete it will be handed over to HS2’s London Tunnels contractor to prepare for tunnel work between Old Oak Common and Victoria Road Crossover Box with breakthrough expected in late 2024.

Old Oak Common importance grows

“We are gaining momentum, reaching our construction milestones on site”, said Huw Edwards, HS2’s Project Client for Old Oak Common. “This first concrete pour of the station box base slab means that we have now reached the HS2 track level and can continue to work eastwards to build the foundations for the HS2 operational services. Once complete, HS2’s Old Oak Common Station will be one of the UK’s best connected transport hubs, and will be a catalyst for economic development, the creation of new homes, jobs and spaces for the local community.”

Construction cranes over the site of HS2 Old Oak Common station
Construction cranes over the site of HS2 Old Oak Common station

Changes to the HS2 project have meant that Old Oak Common Station has grown in importance. Early plans included a direct spur to Heathrow – but that connection with the north of England will now be served by this station’s interchange with the four Elizabeth Line platforms. The four platforms designated for the Great Western Mainline, which will be served by trains to Wales and the South West of England, will also help take pressure off Paddington Station. “The successful completion of the first concrete base pour for the station box at Old Oak Common marks a significant milestone in the progress being made across the HS2 project”, said Nigel Russell, Project Director for the contractors consortium, Balfour Beatty Vinci SYSTRA joint venture (BBVS JV). “We now look forward to excavating the eastern section of the station box at Old Oak Common, which on completion, will become one of Britain’s largest, best connected and most sustainable railway stations.”

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for and

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