HS2 redesign aims to speed up construction

Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV) has redesigned a stretch of the High Speed 2 (HS2) line, making it quicker to build.

The joint venture revealed it was ditching plans for concrete retaining walls along a stretch of track in Warwickshire. An open cutting with grass slopes will be used instead, slashing the amount of work and volume of materials required.

BBV is building 90km of rapid-rail infrastructure between Long Itchington in Warwickshire and Handsacre in Staffordshire, as part of the £100bn HS2 project. The line will pass through South Cubbington Wood between Cubbington and Weston under Wetherley – a decision that has attracted criticism from local opponents.

The new designs raise the track in this area by 2 metres, thereby removing the need to excavate 150,000 cubic metres of soil. The updated layout also requires 60,000 cubic metres less of concrete and steel, with fewer heavy machines needed, making this section of the line quicker to build.

Two green overbridges will be created to connect existing footpaths so that people can access the woodland. Native grassland and hedgerows will be planted on the bridges, creating wildlife crossings and habitats for invertebrates, bats, birds and reptiles.

About 12 hectares of new woodland will be planted near South Cubbington Wood, along with a further 18 hectares of trees across the wider Cubbington area.

BBV biodiversity lead Julia Baker said: “Wherever we operate, we work tirelessly to reduce the impact of our work on both the local community and the environment. This updated design is testament to this commitment. We have created a solution which reduces our carbon footprint and provides habitats for wildlife and green connections for people in the local area.”

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson added that the government had a vision for HS2 to build a “cleaner, greener” transport system without harming the environment.

“This project embodies that vision, reducing carbon equivalent to taking 8,500 HGVs off local roads; moulding our designs to ensure wildlife thrives alongside the new tracks; and ensuring residents can continue to enjoy the rich-nature forestry surrounding their village,” he said

Meanwhile, earlier this week, BBV apologised for late payments to workers on the West Midlands leg of the HS2 scheme.

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