18 OCT 2023


A  million miles of lorry journeys have been removed from Britain’s roads following HS2’s decision to use the rail network for the delivery of tunnel ring segments in London. 

HS2 is using rail to move materials for construction, including delivery of tunnel ring segments to the West Ruislip Portal site in Hillingdon.

Since February HS2’s London tunnels contractor, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture, has received deliveries of the tunnel ring segments by freight train rather than road. 

This option became available once the two tunnel boring machines, named Sushila and Caroline, had been launched and space to access the rail head on-site became available.

HS2 says it is committed to moving materials by rail or waterways where possible, reducing the impact on the UK’s road network.

Pacadar UK, based at Thamesport on the Isle of Grain in Kent, is manufacturing the tunnel ring segments for the Northolt Tunnel West, producing 60,000 segments which will form 8,400 rings, for five miles of twin-bored tunnel. 

The Pacadar factory is strategically located to enable deliveries to take place by rail freight.

More than 120 trains have now completed the journey between the Isle of Grain and West Ruislip, with an average of five trains per week delivering the tunnel ring segments. 

Each train delivers 144 segments, which when installed underground, makes up more than 20 tunnel rings.

Pat Cawley, HS2’s director for On Network Works, said: “By using freight routes to deliver tunnel ring segments manufactured by Pacadar to our West Ruislip tunnelling site, thousands of lorry movements will not be required.

“Our freight programme is a result of extensive collaboration between HS2 Ltd, our contractors, Network Rail and the freight operators and we anticipate that over 20 million tonnes of materials will be moved by rail on Phase One of the HS2 programme.”

Some 400 freight trains are expected to be used to deliver the tunnel segments over the period when the tunnel is being constructed.

It is anticipated that this will reduce the carbon impact of the logistics operation by approximately 2,250 tonnes, all part of how HS2 and its contractors, are approaching construction in an environmentally sustainable way.

James Richardson, managing director of Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture, added: “By using 120 trains instead of lorries to move tunnel segments from Thamesport to our TBMs in West Ruislip, we’ve curbed transport-related emissions by 750 tonnes of CO2 so far, reaching the remarkable milestone of a million avoided lorry miles. 

“This is just the beginning. Overall, across the life of our partnership with Pacadar, we’re projected to reduce our carbon impact by 2,250 tonnes.

“When construction, manufacturing and rail freight industries work together to maximise transport efficiency, we save money, achieve reduced emissions, cut lorry traffic, and strengthen our industry-wide commitment to achieving a cleaner, greener, low-carbon future.”

HS2 Ltd and its contractors are working closely with Network Rail and the UKs leading freight operators to move materials needed for construction using the rail network.

Early in 2024, two further TBMs will begin their journey to complete the Northolt Tunnel – an 8.4-mile tunnel being constructed by a quartet of machines. 

STRABAG will be manufacturing the segment rings for the Northolt Tunnel East at a new facility in Hartlepool. From there, the 35,000 segments will also be transported by rail.

Click here to see how HS2 is using rail to deliver tunnel segments rings from Kent to Hillingdon.


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