HS2 opens its rail hub in North London


A former freight site in North West London was taken over by HS2 to be used to move mud and concrete for the construction of rail tunnels and the new station at Old Oak Common.

Last week, it went into full operation as a “control tower” was commissioned to control the movements of the trucks and trains that will bring the site to life.

Wagons loaded with spoil as the first freight train leaves the logistics hub (c) HS2

As a location, this is ideal, as there is a lot of empty lots on one side and the main railway track on the other – the empty lot is perfect for storage and the railways perfect for deliveries and removals. The goal is for the storage side to fill with spoil from the tunnels and the station site, which will then be washed away, while the rest of the space will be used to store construction materials and tunnel rings. Having such a large space to store materials at a London site is an unusual asset and helps even out delivery or disposal issues.

The London Logistics Hub is located on the former site of the Freightliner Terminal which opened in 1967. It became one of nine regional freight terminals developed specifically to handle Channel Tunnel intermodal traffic, but is ultimately fell into disuse in 2005.

The large concrete tunnel rings are being made at a factory on the Isle of Grain, while the mud extracted from the tunnels will be shipped to three locations – to fill a disused pit near Cambridge for housing, landscaping in Cliffe in Kent, and the development of a future nature reserve on the outskirts of Rugby.

At its peak, they expect to move some 16,000 tonnes of manure per day to landscaping sites. Tunnel rings for the Euston and Ruislip tunnels, as well as building materials for Old Oak Common station, will be inbound.

Reusing an old rail freight site obviously reduces the need for road trucks to do the job, which is not only good for local residents in the area, but is now proving more useful than expected thanks to the shortage of truck drivers. So one cannot blame HS2 for the food shortage in stores.

On the site is the “control tower”, which is actually a metal office building with many computer screens inside to monitor what is going on outside. There is some relevance to this, as the building was already on the site and was previously used by a TV production company.

Two teams work there, one managing the essential road traffic which cannot be transported by rail to the site, and the other the rail freight which can do so, and between them two gigantic screens giving a complete view of what’s going on and the issues that arise. happening.

For the rail team, this can range from where their freight trains are located in the UK, to specific loading times when mud is loaded into each wagon to ensure they leave at time and screens indicating future movements are expected so that they can plan storage needs on site. Roadside examines a wide range of targets they monitor from which trucks arrive on time, meet the higher road safety requirements of HS2, and even which sites have larger delivery issues that need to be addressed. resolved.

Some experimental ideas are also tested in another room to largely address the local communities affected by truck movements. Usually, when a building permit is granted for a construction site, there is an agreed travel plan to prevent trucks from taking residential and other streets, and sometimes trucks ignore it. So they put up a slew of license plate cameras at key locations, and if an HS2 truck deviates from the approved route, they talk about it, and if it happens too often, they may end up not being a delivery driver HS2.

Likewise, there’s the aptly named MudCam, which monitors road surfaces around construction sites and if the trucks drop mud or leave with muddy wheels, cleaners can be deployed to clean up the mud. Construction companies already have an obligation to do this kind of work, but it can sometimes be hit and miss, so they’ve trained a computer to recognize the mud on the tarmac and automatically flag it as a problem before people hit it. notice it.

At the end of the day, it’s as much about complying with the regulations as it is being a good neighbor, but there is a side issue. Often times a large construction site is blamed for things that are not their fault, as people assume it is, and these monitoring systems will provide proof of compliance. The hard part is that often when people are convinced that Yard X is at fault and are angry about it, even proving that X was not at fault will often not make people change their minds. Either way, they’ll still blame X for the nuisance. It will be interesting to see if the level of reporting here helps deal with this very human peculiarity.

The commissioning of the depot is aligned with the name of a new locomotive which will be one of the many used on the site by GBRf. Subsequently, rail fan Jermaine Allen of Leeds unveiled the nameplate of the GB Railfreight 66796 engine, which he named “The Green Progressor”.

He was then shocked to see a locomotive pull out that had been hidden behind the large locomotive – with its name on it.

The Class 08 “Jermaine” locomotor will occupy a permanent base in HS2’s new logistics center in Willesden, where it will move the wagons to positions ready to transport and receive materials.


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