Construction has officially started in Northamptonshire on a green tunnel to minimise HS2’s impact on the surrounding landscape. The ambitious project is the very first of its kind in the UK, with construction works expected to last around three years. During this time, the project is expected to generate and support a number of UK construction jobs.
Based in in Chipping Warden, the new green tunnel will be 1.5 miles long and will consist of two separate halves for north and southbound trains. The design features an m-shaped double arch, with each half extending up to around the height of a standard double-decker bus.
The most distinctive feature of the design is the green landscaping which will cover the length of the concrete structure. It is hoped that the earth, trees, hedgerows, shrubs and other carefully considered planting will help the high-speed line blend into the surrounding countryside.
The tunnel itself will be constructed of 5,000 concrete panels, which will be manufactured in a Derbyshire factory before being assembled on site. This off-site manufacturing technique, along with a number of other strategies, will be used to speed up the building process. Another key aim is to cut carbon throughout the construction timeline.
One of the key ways HS2 Ltd hopes to speed up project delivery is by building the Chipping Warden tunnel on the surface of the ground, rather than excavating below. This creates the need for natural ‘camouflage’, in the form of greening works over the top of the tunnel structure once completed.
The Northamptonshire green tunnel is one of five similarly designed tunnels planned for Phase One of HS2 construction between London and Birmingham. The plans have been drawn up in response to criticism over the impact of the high-speed line and associated building works on rural and green belt land across the route.
Commenting as works get underway for the new HS2 tunnel, HS2 Ltd project client Rohan Perin told the Independent:
“The Chipping Warden green tunnel is a great example of what we’re doing to reduce disruption for people living close to the railway – and it’s fantastic to see the first arches in position.
“Our trains will be powered by zero carbon electricity but it’s also important to reduce the amount of carbon embedded in construction.
“The off-site manufacturing techniques being used will help cut the overall amount of carbon-intensive concrete and steel in the tunnel and make the whole process faster, more efficient and therefore less disruptive for the community.”
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