A Costain Skanska joint venture has removed three huge yellow container cranes at Willesden in west London to make for a new HS2 rail logistics hub.
The 22m-high cranes, visible to rail commuters travelling into Euston, weigh up to 290 tonnes and have stood above the track next to the west coast mainline for nearly 30 years.
Each one had to be lifted and moved up to 100m so they could be dismantled away from passing trains.
The Costain Skanska JV, acting as enabling works contractor, worked with demolition contractor JF Hunt and ALE Heavy Lift used a mobile crane – itself weighing 550 tonnes – to move the first two container cranes last year.
The third – and heaviest of the container cranes – was moved by the same team over the Christmas break using a specialist moving motorised jacking system. It was brought down to ground level on 6 February, in a controlled collapse.
After weakening the structure of the crane, the team used a 49t excavator to pull the whole thing down onto specially built crash mats. This crane has now been disassembled at ground level, with 95% of the structure set to be recycled.
The work involved thousands of hours of planning and preparation and makes way for the rail logistics hub which, once complete, will be served by 16 freight trains a day delivering equipment and construction materials and taking out material excavated by the tunnel boring machines digging the tunnels east to Euston and west to the outskirts of the capital.
6m tonnes of excavations
In total, the 150,000 m2 rail hub is expected to process more than 6m tonnes of excavated material.
HS2 project director, Colin Thomas, said: “Once up and running, the Rail Logistics Hub will be the beating heart of our construction activity in the capital, enabling us to deliver equipment and materials and take out huge amounts of excavated material by rail.
“The safe and efficient removal of the Willesden cranes is the first step to making that possible, and a very visible reminder of the progress we are making in the delivery of Britain’s new high-speed line.”
Neal Carter, PMO director at Costain Skanska Joint Venture said: “Costain and Skanska are making strong progress in preparing the area between Euston and the Colne Valley for the new HS2 route. The demolition of the third and largest crane marks the high point of a busy 12 months on site at Willesden.
“Our thanks goes to the whole team who safely delivered this challenging piece of work, including working over Christmas Day to move a crane so that no rail customers were disrupted.”
Originally known as Willesden Euro Terminal, the site was built to handle container traffic through the Channel Tunnel. The first scheduled freight train to cross the channel departed from Willesden on 27 June 1994, four months before the first Eurostar.
A fourth container crane, at the north-west end of the site, will be left in position.