Midlands-based Collins Earthworks has completed excavating the north portal site of HS2’s Long Itchington Wood tunnel.
The site is now ready for the launch of the tunnel boring machine that will dig under ancient Warwickshire woodland.
Collins Earthworks is contracted to HS2’s main works contractor BBV Joint Venture (Balfour Beatty and Vinci Construction), which is responsible for building the northern section of HS2 as it heads into Birmingham.
A crew of 120 people from Collins Earthworks, have worked on the HS2 site since April 2020, excavating 300,000 cubic metres of soil, with the topsoil and subsoils stored and separated with a layer of straw, so they can be put back in the same way after the tunnel has been built.
At the busiest period there were 35 machines on site, including one of the new Cat D6 XE dozers with diesel-electric drive.
Segments of the 2,000-tonne tunnel boring machine have started arriving at the site from the manufacturer Herrenknecht in Germany, and will be reassembled ready to start drilling in the summer. It will take five months to dig the first bore of the tunnel, then it will be extracted at the south portal before being transported by road back to the north portal to start the second bore.
BBV construction director on this site is Aiden Goggins. He said: “The Long Itchington Wood tunnel site is one of the project’s largest and Collins Earthworks have worked for nearly a year to carefully excavate material which will be reused to form environmental embankments and landscape for the railway. The tunnel in this location preserves the ancient woodland, so forms a key element in how we are managing environmental impacts through the design of the railway.”
Collins Earthworks chief executive David Collins said: “Working on HS2 has provided our business with ongoing work through the pandemic, ensuring we can continue to support jobs for our 370 employees in the Midlands. We are delivering a start-to-finish service, encompassing site clearance, then providing the right machines and fully trained labour to carry out all project management and execution on site, as well as recycling materials for future use on the project.”
Collins Earthworks is also preparing HS2’s sites at Long Itchington’s south portal, Washwood Health, Bromford Tunnel portal, and at the A46, M6 junction 4 and Marston Lane.