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Yellow cranes collapsed to make way for HS2 hub in Old Oak Common

PUBLISHED: 09:14 04 March 2019

Cranes at HS2 hub in Old Oak Common. PIcture: HS2

Cranes at HS2 hub in Old Oak Common. PIcture: HS2

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Three huge disused yellow container cranes that have stood in Willesden for 30 years have been removed to make way for a major new HS2 rail hub.

Cranes at HS2 hub in Old Oak Common. PIcture: HS2Cranes at HS2 hub in Old Oak Common. PIcture: HS2

The 22-metre cranes, weighing up to 290 tonnes, have been lifted and moved for dismantlement so that the HS2 rail logistics hub can be built in its place.

The hub, between Willesden and Harlesden, is part of the government’s flagship multi-billion pound high-speed rail project which will take 30 minutes off a journey from London to Birmingham.

HS2 bosses said the removal of the three cranes was one of the most complex engineering challenges the project has faced so far, requiring thousands of hours of planning and preparation.

Once complete, 16 freight trains a day are expected to serve the hub, delivering equipment and construction materials, and removing matter excavated by the tunnel boring machines digging the tunnels east to Euston and west to the outskirts of the capital.

Cranes at HS2 hub in Old Oak Common. PIcture: HS2Cranes at HS2 hub in Old Oak Common. PIcture: HS2

In total, the vast 150,000 sq m rail hub is expected to process more than six million tonnes of excavated material. Bosses say doing it by train will take the equivalent of 300,000 HGVs off the roads.

The cranes were origninally one of nine regional freight terminals developed specifically to handle Channel Tunnel intermodal traffic. Spanning 30 acres, the site was characterised by the four yellow container cranes that towered over it, straddling the 13 railway sidings below.

The first freight departure between Britain and France left Willesden Euro-terminal on June 27 1994. But by 2005 the expected tonnes of freight to shift had failed to materialise and the terminal had fallen into disuse .

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.”

How HS2 station in Old Oak Common might look. PIcture: HS2How HS2 station in Old Oak Common might look. PIcture: HS2

The hub is part of the wider regeneration plans in Old Oak spearheaded by Sadiq Khan’s Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation.

The high-speed station in Old Oak Common, south of the canal, is part of a mixed-use development in the north.

It will connect Crossrail to HS2 lines, with space for future services serving Wales and the west of England.

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