HS2 utilises Hi-Force’s synchronised lifting systems for M42 bridge installation

HS2 is Britain’s brand-new high-speed railway, the first part of an integrated rail plan that will transform connectivity between cities and towns in the South, Midlands and North, calling at over 25 stations and connecting around 30 million people. The first phase of HS2 is being built now, supporting the UK’s green economic recovery and ensuring the UK is on track to achieve its commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Over 250 active work sites between London and Birmingham are creating and sustaining thousands of jobs and the country’s supply chains. At a crucial stage of the project, Hi-Force’s expertise in synchronised lifting, was called upon to support the installation of a 65-meter bridge, over the M42 motorway, near Birmingham.

The new road bridge, the first permanent structure to be installed along the route of Britain’s new railway, required innovative engineering techniques, minimising disruption to the road users below. The 2,750 tonne bridge was constructed off site and maneuvered along the motorway by a self-propelled modular transporter, before being affixed to composite concrete abutments.

Sixteen Hi-Force single acting, fail safe lock ring cylinders, each with a 400 tonne lifting capacity, were placed upon temporary support stools on the east and west bridge abutments.

Hi-Force partnered with its UK distributor, HES Sales Ltd, in offering the technical solutions required, as well as the supply of the equipment, on a short-term hire basis, from HES’ vast fleet of hire tools.

The HFG4006 hydraulic cylinders had specifically designed saddle plates fitted over the original HFG-400T saddles, ensuring that any movement or sliding of the bridge, as it was adjusted into the optimum position, could be absorbed. Each HFG4006 hydraulic cylinder, powered by a Hi-Force electric driven pump (HEP310341) advanced, one by one, to the required height, specified by the work scope. Once in position, the cylinders lock ring feature was engaged, allowing the bridge to be driven into place and mechanically supported.

For the next phase, the HFG4006 cylinders were connected to a sophisticated Hi-Force SLF synchronous lifting system, required to raise the bridge just 1mm at a time, with a 1mm tolerance throughout the lift. This first synchronised lift was required to release the cylinders from the mechanical hold.

Next, the bridge required levelling, within maximum variance of just 1mm at any one time. Under the precise control of the SLF unit, some of the cylinders advanced, some retracted and others stayed in place, constantly feeding back the data to the engineers on site via the intuitive touch screen controller and displays.

Once leveled, the bridge had to be weighed, allowing for accurate calculations of the bearing and grouting requirements prior to the permanent fixing of the bridge. The grouting period required 2 weeks for completion, so the lock ring feature of the HFG4006 cylinders was once again engaged, mechanically supporting the load in the safest possible way.

Once the grouting was cured and hardened, the cylinders were again connected to the SLF synchronised lifting unit, advancing the piston of the cylinders, to release the mechanical lock rings.

The final stage of this process required the cylinders and SLF unit to synchronise the lowering of the bridge, with a 1mm tolerance between each of the cylinders, until the complete load was supported by the bridge abutments.

The successful installation marks the completion of the first of four bridges to be built close to the new Interchange Station. It will form part of the major remodeling of the regional road network to improve the circulation of traffic around the HS2 railway line and connect the existing road network to the new Interchange Station.

It is estimated that some 2000 UK businesses have been part of the HS2 journey so far, and both Hi-Force and HES Sales Ltd are proud to be part of historic project.