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Bromford tunnel

HS2 is developing a more detailed design for Phase One of the railway, following the appointment of its main works contractors. The design process is helping HS2 plan and prepare for the construction of Britain’s new high speed railway. 

Part of the design process involves identifying opportunities to minimise the impact of the railway on local communities and the environment, while ensuring value for money.

Bromford Tunnel Extension Transport and Works Act Order consultation

We previously published our plans to extend the Bromford tunnel from Birmingham into Warwickshire, which will minimise the overall impact of HS2 across the area. The Phase One High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act generally allows us to refine the design of the railway in this way, although some additional consents for specific, technical aspects of the plans are required.

In this particular case we are applying for a minor amendment to be made to the wording in the Act to remove the requirement for part of the railway to be constructed so as to include a viaduct (please see attached plan below). This will allow the relevant part of the railway to be constructed in tunnel under the Act and enable the proposal to extend the Bromford tunnel to proceed.

This specific change involves applying for an Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992, as part of the proposed design change from viaduct to tunnel. As part of this process we consulted in Autumn 2020 on the proposed changes.

The Transport & Works Act Order (TWAO) application is progressing and as part of the process Eversheds, acting on behalf of HS2 Ltd, wrote to the Transport Infrastructure Planning Unit requesting a screening decision from the Secretary of State (SoS). HS2 Ltd has now received the Secretary of State’s screening decision that an environmental assessment is required in relation to the Bromford Tunnel extension scheme. We are considering this decision to understand its implications and will be communicating an update as soon as we can.

Benefits of the Bromford Tunnel extension

Extending the tunnel will provide several benefits: 

  • Increasing the length of the tunnel from 2.8km to 5.7km will remove the need for complex engineering above ground in an already built-up and environmentally sensitive area, including a series of retained cuttings, retained fills and a viaduct 
  • There will be less land required in the Castle Bromwich Business Park area, meaning that fewer properties and businesses will be affected by the new railway line. This will save a number of jobs in the area 
  • Park Hall Nature Reserve will have a significantly reduced level of construction as we will no longer need to clear ancient woodland or divert the River Tame at this location 
  • Extending the tunnel reduces construction traffic on the road network in Birmingham. Instead of transporting spoil from Bromford along the local road network, we will transport it from Water Orton along purpose-built construction haul routes. These materials will be used locally near the Water Orton Flyover and along the Marsh Lane embankment 
  • There will be up to 260,000 fewer HGV movements over the course of construction, which will help to minimise our impact on the environment. 

Bromford Tunnel Extension Transport and Works Act Order consultation

We previously published our plans to extend the Bromford tunnel from Birmingham into Warwickshire, which will minimise the overall impact of HS2 across the area. The Phase One High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act generally allows us to refine the design of the railway in this way, although some additional consents for specific, technical aspects of the plans are required. 

In this particular case we are applying for a minor amendment to be made to the wording in the Act to remove the requirement for part of the railway to be constructed so as to include a viaduct (please see attached plan below). This will allow the relevant part of the railway to be constructed in tunnel under the Act and enable the proposal to extend the Bromford tunnel to proceed. 

This specific change involves applying for an Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992, as part of the proposed design change from viaduct to tunnel. As part of this process we consulted in Autumn 2020 on the proposed changes. 

The Transport & Works Act Order (TWAO) application is progressing and as part of the process Eversheds, acting on behalf of HS2 Ltd, wrote to the Transport Infrastructure Planning Unit requesting a screening decision from the Secretary of State (SoS). HS2 Ltd has now received the Secretary of State’s screening decision that an environmental assessment is required in relation to the Bromford Tunnel extension scheme. We are considering this decision to understand its implications and will be communicating an update as soon as we can.

The eastern portal (Water Orton) 

The eastern portal of the tunnel will be located off Attleboro Lane in Water Orton. The design of the portal is ongoing. We will keep local communities up to date as the design progresses. 

A compound will be used to construct the tunnel, to store materials and serve as a base for our workforce. It will be accessed via purpose-built haul roads. 

A substation to service the tunnel will also be located off Attleboro Lane. The substation will be designed and managed by Western Power Distribution. 

To minimise the noise of trains as they exit the tunnel, we will be constructing a porous portal.  On high speed railways, the purpose of a porous portal is to ensure that the waves produced by the ‘piston effect’ of the train moving at speed, which can otherwise result in noise as the train exits the tunnel, are kept at a level which does not adversely affect the surrounding area. A porous portal is generally achieved by providing perforated structures, usually of concrete, at the tunnel entrances. 

The western portal and Bromford

The western portal of the tunnel will be moved 100 metres to the west of the location set out in the original scheme design. However, it will still be in the Washwood Heath area next to the HS2 maintenance depot. 

Moving the tunnel portal to the west eliminates the need to construct 100m of complex cuttings, which will lead to a reduced environmental impact and be more efficient to deliver. 

This means that there will no longer be a tunnel portal in the Bromford area. However, we will need to build a vent shaft, which will be located on Castle Bromwich Business Park above the tunnel on the old British Car Auctions site. This site has already been cleared in preparation for works. 

The vent shaft building will have equipment in it to provide ventilation and power to the tunnel. It will also be used for accessing the tunnel for maintenance and in the event of an emergency. The design of the vent shaft is ongoing. We will share more information about the design later in the year.