Undated handout picture issued by HS2 Ltd, showing an aerial view of the Greatworth green tunnel.

HS2’s green tunnels designed to blend into landscape

Image credit: HS2 Ltd

HS2 Ltd has started construction on an innovative green tunnel designed to blend the railway into the surrounding landscape.

The one-and-a-half-mile-long structure in Chipping Warden, Northamptonshire, is being built on the surface of the ground to speed up the process, HS2 project leads have said.

Over 5,000 concrete segments made in a factory in Derbyshire will be assembled on-site before being covered by earth, trees, shrubs and hedgerows to blend in better with the surrounding countryside.

The HS2 project has faced fierce criticism about the environmental impact it will have along the full route of the high-speed rail line.

The green tunnel will be an M-shaped double arch with separate halves for northbound and southbound trains. Both halves will be approximately the height of two double-decker buses.

Greatworth green tunnel under construction

Image credit: HS2 Ltd

According to those involved in the project, the tunnel is the first of its kind in the UK. Construction is expected to take three years.

A total of five green tunnels will be part of Phase One of the high-speed railway between London and Birmingham.

“The Chipping Warden green tunnel is a great example of what we’re doing to reduce disruption for people living close to the railway, and it’s fantastic to see the first arches in position,” said Rohan Perin, HS2 Ltd’s project client.

Undated handout picture issued by HS2 Ltd, showing an aerial view of the Greatworth green tunnel.

Image credit: HS2 Ltd

The trains used on the line will be powered by zero-carbon electricity, but Perin stressed that it’s also important to reduce the amount of carbon embedded in construction.

“The off-site manufacturing techniques being used will help cut the overall amount of carbon-intensive concrete and steel in the tunnel and make the whole process faster, more efficient and therefore less disruptive for the community.”

Earlier this month, construction started on the UK’s longest railway bridge, also part of the HS2 project, which will stretch for two miles across a series of lakes and waterways between Hillingdon and the M25.

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