UK High Speed 2 needs 56km of twin tunnels30 Jan 2013
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
A 12km twin-running bored tunnel under the city of Manchester will be the greatest construction challenge of the preferred route for Phase 2 of the UK's £33 billion High Speed 2 rail project.
On Monday (January 28) the UK Government released details of the two alignments that make up Phase 2; between Birmingham (the end point of Phase 1 from London) and Leeds, and Birmingham and Manchester.
TunnelTalk research of nearly 100 detailed drawings of the route prepared by HS2 Birmingham-Manchester design consultants MSG (Mott Macdonald, Scott Wilson and Grimshaw) and the Birmingham-Leeds design consultant Arup, reveals a total of six twin-tube running tunnels (Fig 1). These include tunnels of:
• 710m, near Madeley;
• 3,820m, under Crewe, north of a new hub station planned for south of the city that will link Liverpool via the existing West Coast mainline.
• 11,890m (linking the proposed new Manchester Airport Station south of the city with a new city centre station close to its Manchester Piccadilly Station);
• 1,585m, west of Nottingham, north of a proposed new hub station that will link the East Midlands to HS2 via the existing East Coast mainline;
• 1,740m, north of another new hub station at Meadowhall, Sheffield; and
• 1,020m near Barnsley.
Fig 1. Detailed HS2 Phase 2 alignment announced
Phase 1 and 2 alignments with connections
That means a total of 20.77km of twin running tunnels, plus another 1,560m of cut-and-cover tunnels, are planned for Phase 2. This is in addition to the 35.2km of twin running tunnels required for the London-Birmingham Phase 1 alignment, and brings the total bored tunnel requirement to nearly 56km, or 10% of the total 561km length.
To give some comparison, Brazil's planned 530km high speed rail network between Rio-Sao Paolo-Campinas calls for 18% of the route to be tunnelled; Japan's 2,000km high speed network is about 30% in tunnels; the Pusan-Seoul TGV in Korea is 46% tunnelled; Taiwan's TGV is 14% in tunnels; and the French TGV network runs less than 6% in tunnels.
Meanwhile, the HS2 direct link to Heathrow Airport has been put on hold. It had been expected that further details would be given of a route linking the new Old Oak Common Station in west London (part of Phase 1) to the terminals at Heathrow Airport, a route that is sure to require a heavy element of tunnelling. But the UK Government has chosen to defer an announcement on this until after the Davies Commission on future airport capacity reports back in Summer 2015.
Once HS2 is completed, dedicated track will allow for speeds of up to 400km/hr, cutting journey times between London and Manchester from 128 to 68 minutes; between London and Manchester Airport from 144 minutes to 59 minutes; between London and Leeds from 132 to 82 minutes; and between London and Birmingham from 84 to 49 minutes.
Subject to the necessary approvals necessary to get bills through Parliament, it is envisaged that Phase 1 London-Birmingham construction will begin in 2017 and become operational by 2026, with Phase 2 Birmingham-Manchester and Birmingham-Leeds opening for service in 2033.
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