HS2 starts first of 56 giant piers for UK’s longest rail bridge

The construction of the UK’s longest railway bridge took another major step forward this week with the start of work on the first of 56 giant concrete piers that will support the Colne Valley Viaduct as it crosses a series of lakes on the outskirts of London.

Stretching for 3.4km, the viaduct – being built as part of the HS2 rail project – will carry high speed trains travelling at speeds of up to 200mph between the outskirts of Hillingdon and the M25 on their way to Birmingham and the north.

Weighing in at around 370 tonnes, the 6m tall reinforced concrete pier was cast on site by a team of engineers who used a specially-designed formwork to create the shape of the structure. This was then removed after 4 days to reveal the final product.

Each pier is designed to support the full weight of the deck above and rests on a set of concrete piles going up to 55m into the ground. This foundation work began earlier this year and will require the construction of 292 piles and 56 pile caps across the whole length of the viaduct.

In another visible sign of progress on the project, the team have also completed the construction of the first of four jetties across the lakes to get equipment into position to support the construction thereby taking construction vehicles off local roads. Where the viaduct crosses the lake, the piles will be bored directly into the lakebed, using a cofferdam to hold back the water while the pier is constructed.

The main deck of the viaduct – which supports the railway line - will be built in 1000 separate unique segments at a temporary factory nearby before being assembled from north to south, starting next year.

For more information visit www.hs2.org.uk/colne-valley-viaduct

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