HS2 softens Water Orton viaduct designs

The revised design showing space for an orchard to be planted between the two viaducts

In spring 2020, HS2 went out to consultation on the design of the Water Orton viaducts. The response was that locals wanted less concrete and more greenery.

As a result, designers from Systra, Mott MacDonald and Weston Williamson have developed new plans, retaining more accessible countryside. Tree planign is planned, and there is space for a community orchard or allotments.

The section of the HS2 route where the two Water Orton viaducts are located is known as the Delta Junction, a triangular section of line where the railway curves west towards Birmingham and runs north towards Crewe and beyond. The Water Orton viaducts link the curve that heads west towards Birmingham with the main line heading north, carry the railway across a network of existing motorways, roads and footpaths.

The area between the two Water Orton viaducts, which was previously the site of the Old Saltleians Rugby Club, will be re-designed to provide more wildlife habitats, said HS2 Ltd, the client organisation.

HS2 design director Kay Hughes said: “As we develop the detailed design for the railway, we are listening to feedback from communities like Water Orton, and also continue to work with them and local authorities to explore further opportunities for local connectivity through pedestrian access and cycling routes.”

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Maxime Corlay, a landscape architect at Systra, said: “These new designs protect existing habitats and connect them with newly created areas, and the impact of the railway is reduced through planting that will integrate HS2 into the local environment.”

The original design that was put out to consultation in 2020
The original design that was put out to consultation in 2020

Nick McGough, associate partner at architect Weston Williamson & Partners, said: “The team has worked hard to elegantly sculpt these viaducts into the most narrow and slender structures possible, with large spans which reduce the number of piers. This minimises the locations where the structure touches the ground, improves the sustainability performance of the viaducts, and also creates opportunities for new green spaces and community amenities.”

The viaducts will be made from precast concrete segments. Main works civils contractor for this section is Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV). It plans to create special HS2 haul roads for transporting the segments to site, to avoid using local roads. BBV has also committed to using up to 60% lower carbon alternatives to cement in the construction of the structures.

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