Milestone moment for East West Rail and HS2 as bridge craned into place near Aylesbury

A massive new bridge has been lifted into position near Calvert where East West Rail will cross the HS2 line
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It was a milestone moment for two of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects as as a new bridge was lifted into position where the East West Rail line will cross HS2 north of Aylesbury.

The bridge, near Calvert, will carry East West Rail services between Oxford and Cambridge over the HS2 high-speed line that’s under construction between London, Birmingham and the north.

Weighing in at over 315 tonnes, the bridge where the two lines cross near Calvert was assembled on site and lifted into position by a team led by HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB.

The new East West Rail bridge at CalvertThe new East West Rail bridge at Calvert
The new East West Rail bridge at Calvert

Made of weathering steel, the 35m-long bridge is designed to naturally age over time to a dark brown colour to help match the tone of the surrounding countryside. It was lifted into position over a two-hour period with a 600-tonne crawler crane.

East West Rail CEO Beth West said: "The bridge installation over the Calvert cutting is a really important milestone in bringing East West Rail to life.

“The government recently recommitted to East West Rail and construction of the stretch of railway between Bicester and Bletchley is being delivered as planned, both on time and on budget, with passenger services between Oxford and Bletchley set to be operational from 2025.”

HS2 Ltd’s senior project manager Paul Marshall said: “HS2 will transform journeys between London, Birmingham and the major cities of the north but it’s vital that we also maintain and enable links for communities on either side of the line.

The bridge is craned into placeThe bridge is craned into place
The bridge is craned into place

"That’s why we have been working closely with East West Rail to get this crucial bridge into position and I’d like to thank everyone involved in getting us to this important moment for both our projects.”

The bridge will cross one of the longest cuttings on the HS2 project. Work started on the 2.1-mile (3.4km) Calvert cutting earlier this year, which will take the line south past Calvert Green and Steeple Claydon, roughly following the route of the disused Great Central Railway, which closed in the 1960s.

Around 685,000 cubic metres of material will be excavated to create the Calvert cutting, which will be up to 9.7m deep and wide enough to allow extra local railway lines to be added alongside the HS2 main line at a later date.

Around 99 per cent of the material EKFB is excavating will be kept within the HS2 site and later reused for embankments, noise barriers and landscaping.

Alongside the bridge, HS2 is also building 650,000 cubic metres of earthworks, two smaller road bridges and a footbridge for East West Rail in the Calvert area.

EKFB project director Dave Newcombe said: “The Calvert area is home to an important interface between two new railway networks which will see HS2 running underneath the East West Rail line.

"The build of this intersection, carried out by EKFB, was clearly thought out with our local communities at the forefront of our plans.

"Now, we’re pleased to be able to lift the structural steel platform on to the bridge – a great milestone for our construction programme.”