Sunday, 4 July 2021

One Million HGVs to be Taken off the Roads as First Train Departs HS2’s Willesden Logistics Hub

On Tuesday 29th June, the first train carrying spoil removed from HS2 construction works in London left the HS2 Logistics hub in Willesden. Carrying 1,470 tonnes of spoil, the train departed at 03:51 and travelled to Barrington in Cambridgeshire, where the spoil will be reused in a disused quarry to bring it back into use as a new housing development.

The logistics hub has been brought into use by HS2’s main works contractor, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV) who are building the HS2 tunnels through London. The hub will be used by other London contractors, Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA JV (BBVS JV) and Mace Dragados JV (MD JV) who are constructing HS2’s Old Oak Common and Euston stations respectively. The site will be the ‘beating heart’ of HS2’s construction activity in the South.

Over the lifecycle of the project up to seven freight trains per day will depart the Logistics hub at Willesden, and will remove one million lorries from the roads in the London area alone. One train per day will arrive at the hub bringing in construction materials, including concrete segments that will be used to construct HS2’s London tunnels.

The first train was operated by GB Railfreight, and the start of the logistics service is the result of meticulous planning between HS2, Network Rail, SCS JV and the supply chain.

HS2’s Project Director, Malcolm Codling, said:

“HS2 is committed to improving environmental standards in construction and the departure of the first logistics train from Willesden is just one of the many measures we are taking to do that. The team working at the Logistics hub will be coordinating rail freight movements that will remove one million HGVs off the roads, significantly reducing the project’s environmental impact.”

One of the next measures to reduce impact on local roads in the area, is the installation of a conveyor system which will remove spoil from the construction of Old Oak Common station and transport it to the Willesden Logistics hub. Plans for the system are being developed and it is due be installed and operational by spring 2022.

Originally known as Willesden Euro Terminal, the site was built to handle container traffic through the Channel Tunnel. The first scheduled freight train to cross the channel departed from Willesden on 27th June 1994, 4 months before the first Eurostar.

Skanska Costain STRABAG’s Managing Director, James Richardson, said:

“This is an exciting moment for the project, seeing the start of a million vehicles being taken off the road. Removing spoil by rail has significant benefits and will greatly reduce vehicle movements on local roads. The logistics hub will be pivotal in managing all sites in the Old Oak and Park Royal development area and will see coordination and collaboration across all delivery partners in the area.”

The HS2 Old Oak Common Station, adjacent to Willesden, which will have 14 platforms, is where High Speed 2 (HS2) will meet with Crossrail and the Great Western main line (including Heathrow Express), to create the busiest interchange in the country

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“At GBRf, we are committed to increasing the amount of material transported by rail. The logistics hub has the potential to serve many rail freight journeys from our capital, removing the need for HGV’s on our roads and cutting carbon emissions in one of the UK’s most congested areas. 
The first train that left this week demonstrates the delivery of the Government’s net zero target, shifting from road to a more sustainable rail solution.”