Nighttime overhead view of viaducts being built in Birmingham

HS2 progresses in Birmingham and the West Midlands

Curzon Street Viaducts under construction in Birmingham HS2 Media Centre

Despite all the coverage of the cancellation of the northern section and the delayed construction timetable of HS2, work is proceeding on the core route. The civil engineering project to build the line between London and Birmingham is underway, and two aspects of the project have reached their own small milestones.

HS2 has been on the end of a whole train of bad press. All the focus has been on the disagreements and disappointments over the controversial cancellation of the HS2 Northern Leg from Birmingham to Manchester. That added to the shock news that Euston station in London will not be built as planned, and the line will, for the interim, terminate in west London, at Old Oak Common. However, at the other end of the line, work is in fact progressing.

Solihull Bridge swings into the limelight

The HS2 high-speed railway project continues to hit architectural and civil engineering milestones. New designs for HS2’s River Blythe Viaduct are on the drawing board, for a 475-meter low-lying structure situated just south of the new HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull. The designs have now been revealed to the public. A showcase event in Hampton in Arden this week gave the community an opportunity to see how their feedback had influenced its design. The overall bridge project pays special attention to tree planting and the preservation of the rural environment. Not only that, a significant redrawing of the alignment reduced the length of the structure by almost 200 metres – a cutback of the right sort.

An HS2 train crossing a modern bridge countryside
A view of a bridge. CGI of the current design of the River Blythe Viaduct

“It’s important that we listen to local communities as we finalise the design for these key HS2 structures”, said Christoph Brintrup, HS2’s Head of Landscape. “We’re pleased that our latest design for the River Blythe Viaduct is responsive to its surrounding context by focusing on the conservation, enhancement, and restoration of the rural landscape.”

Birmingham station approaches taking shape

On the construction front, work is rapidly progressing on the 300-meter-long viaduct that will bring high-speed trains into Birmingham’s Curzon Street Station. Over 2,000 cubic meters of concrete have been poured to create the first two 90-meter viaduct deck structures, with two additional sections well underway. Night-time operations were employed to minimise local road impacts during concrete delivery and pouring.

The structure is part of a series of five connected viaducts between the Washwood Heath district and Curzon Street Station, in central Birmingham. The viaduct widens from a single deck to four separate decks on the approach to the station to carry the terminal’s platforms. The design of Curzon Street was only ever intended to handle trains calling at Birmingham. At least its future seems assured, without any recourse to the drawing board. For HS2, that must be in itself, good news.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

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