HS2 Seeks Approval To Double Length Of Bromford Tunnel

The High Speed 2 project has applied for permission to double the length of a tunnel on the route near Birmingham to avoid construction work in a built-up area.

The High Speed 2 project has applied for permission to double the length of a tunnel on the route near Birmingham to avoid construction work in a built-up area and save 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in the process.

The Bromford Tunnel amendment, submitted as part of a Transport Works Act Order in January, seeks authorisation for a slight change of the route, which due to the project being enshrined in law, needs to be approved by the Secretary Of State.

At present, the route would have involved a 2.8km tunnel, with another 2.9km taking the form of a viaduct, with the retained cuttings, retained fills and other ecological considerations which would be needed as a consequence.

By extending the tunnel’s length, this complex construction would be avoided, with construction and subsequent tunnel repair being completely below ground as a consequence.

As well as this, Castle Bromwich business park would need less land to house the line itself, which as a consequence means fewer building demolitions and several jobs that were initially seen as at-risk are set to be saved.

It also has an ecological benefit to Park Hall Nature Reserve, as the extended tunnel avoids clipping ancient woodland or requiring river diversions.

This will, as a consequence change the tunnel entrance and exit, with the former appearing at Water Orton and the latter set to be moved 100 metres west to Washwood Heath, the current prospective site of a maintenance depot for the HS2 project.

This would also change how construction materials and debris are managed, replacing the requirement of up to 260,000 HGV journeys with journeys on a dedicated construction line, leading to more efficient resource management.

The tunnel portals are also set to be what HS2 describe as ‘porous’ which uses a series of perforated concrete structures at the tunnel entrances to reduce the noise generated by the trains moving at speed at the entry and exit points of the tunnel.

The early part of 2022 was a very busy moment for the HS2 project, as several important technological, legislative and construction milestones were reached at the same time.

At the same time as this adjustment to the ‘Phase 1’ work of the project, the legislation for the ‘Phase 2b’ western leg that extends HS2 from Crewe to Manchester has been submitted to Parliament.

This would take the form of a 52-mile line extension that according to HS2 would treble capacity on the busy Manchester-Birmingham line, and would include new high-speed stations based at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.

This would serve as the primary infrastructure that would connect HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Manchester’s Metrolink, with service benefits felt for people commuting from Stockport, Stoke -On-Trent and Crewe.

Along with this, a real-time monitoring system powered by sensors and a virtual reality digital twin system has been announced with claims by HS2 that the technology could make the new high-speed rail system one of the most reliable rail networks in the world.

It would replace the rolling programme of renewals and maintenance with a ‘predict and prevent’ model that allows for infrastructure repairs to take place before they cause disruption.