Last month, HS2 Ltd began the search for suppliers to provide switches and crossings for the 280km of new high-speed rail track between London, Birmingham and the connection with the existing west coast mainline at Crewe.
The contract, which is worth up to £156 million, will include the design, manufacture and delivery of around 180 switches and crossings for Phase 1 and 2a of the project, with options to extend for further equipment to cover Crewe to Manchester in phase 2b, as well as the maintenance depots.
Designed to operate smoothly, reliably and safely at speeds of up to 360kph and diverging speeds up to 230kph, the switches and crossings will be a vital component of the HS2 track systems. The contract also includes around 77 rail expansion devices for track on viaducts and bridges.
Furthermore, HS2 Ltd is running a separate procurement process to award four track systems contracts for the design and installation of the track and coordination of construction logistics. This will also include integration and installation of the switches and crossings.
David Poole, HS2 Ltd’s procurement and commercial director, said: “The switches and crossings supplier will play a vital role in delivering the high-tech rail systems that will allow HS2 to run some of the world’s most reliable, fast and efficient high-speed trains.
“The launch of this new procurement contest is an important step towards appointing all the suppliers who will deliver the rail systems once the main civils work is complete.
“HS2 already supports more than 13,000 jobs across the UK and contracts like this will provide a real boost for employers across the supply chain, helping to support skills development and provide opportunities for years to come.”
In order to reduce long-term costs and improve performance, the track will be set onto concrete slabs instead of the ballast commonly used on the UK rail network. This approach, which is known as slab track, is commonly used on metro systems and some international high-speed rail lines, and will allow for a higher frequency of service with reduced maintenance requirements.
A contract to deliver the pre-cast slab track has recently been awarded to PORR UK Ltd; this contract will see the slabs made at a new factory in Somerset.
Meanwhile, just before Christmas the first freight train arrived at HS2’s main construction compound in Buckinghamshire. Over the next year, more than 180 freight trains are set to deliver material to the site taking the equivalent of 12,670 HGVs off the road.
The train, operated by DB Cargo UK and Hanson, delivered 1,650 tonnes of aggregate that will be used in the construction of the temporary Calvert Railhead. Across the whole HS2 project, 15,000 freight trains are set to be used to haul 10 million tonnes of aggregate to construction sites.
Calvert Railhead site is about halfway between London and Birmingham and will be run by HS2’s main works contractor EKFB, which is delivering the 80km central section of the route. This includes 17 viaducts, 81 bridges and three ‘green tunnels’ and is set to create 4,000 jobs over the next two years.