BBVS Consortium Set to Build UK's Largest Sub-Surface Station at Old Oak Common, Redefining Architectural Marvels

Posted on 17 May 2021

The joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Vinci, and Systra (BBVS) is gearing up to embark on an ambitious construction project at Old Oak Common.

This endeavour will involve the creation of the main station box, which upon completion, will proudly hold the title of the largest sub-surface station in the entirety of the United Kingdom. The sheer scale of this architectural marvel is astounding, with dimensions stretching across an impressive 850 meters in length, 70 meters in width, and 20 meters in depth. This monumental undertaking will not only redefine the concept of a sub-surface station but also establish itself as the largest station ever built in the UK as a single, unified project.

Initially designated as the London terminus for the highly anticipated High Speed 2 (HS2), the significance of the West London hub has grown even further due to the delayed opening of Euston, a crucial component of the first phase of the high-speed rail line connecting London to the Midlands. In anticipation of the upcoming construction phase, recently released documents ahead of the Transport For London Programme's and Investment Committee meeting highlight the intensification of preparatory works at Old Oak Common. These preparatory efforts are aimed at laying the groundwork for the subsequent piling and excavation operations for the main station box, which are expected to commence in May 2021. However, the progress of the main station box hinges upon resolving ground monitoring requirement issues, which have witnessed significant advancement during the previous quarter. A spokesperson representing HS2 has confirmed that the BBVS team is presently mobilizing and making the necessary preparations to initiate the initial permanent works at Old Oak Common station in the coming weeks.

Upon its completion, this extraordinary station will proudly showcase a total of 14 platforms, including six high-speed rail platforms that extend a remarkable 450 meters in length. These high-speed rail platforms will be nestled underground within the expansive confines of the 850-meter-long station box. Access to this monumental structure will be facilitated by twin tunnels that will serve as conduits for the eventual transportation of high-speed trains towards the Eastern terminus at Euston. The construction process involved in bringing this station box to life is an engineering feat in itself, requiring the excavation of an astounding 740,000 cubic meters of London clay. To ensure the structural integrity of the station box, 1.8 kilometres of box diaphragm walls will be erected, while internal support for the HS2 station superstructure will be provided by 25-meter-deep bored piles.

Envisioned as a remarkable transportation nexus, the new "super-hub" station is slated for completion in 2030. Its strategic location will serve as a vital link between various key transport networks, including the Elizabeth line (Crossrail), HS2, Heathrow Express, and GWR services to the West and Midlands. Beyond its transportation prowess, the station's development plays a central role in the wider regeneration plans of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC). This ambitious revitalisation initiative aims to breathe new life into the area, with plans encompassing the construction of numerous residential properties in West London.

The BBVS consortium triumphed in securing the prestigious £1 billion contract for Old Oak Common station in September 2019. However, this decision was not without its share of legal challenges. Bechtel, a competing bidder, contested the award, alleging that HS2 Ltd had accepted an unreasonably low bid from BBVS. Seeking up to £100 million in damages, Bechtel initiated a prolonged legal battle. Ultimately, a High Court judge dismissed all of Bechtel's claims, ruling in favour of BBVS. The judge explicitly stated that the resources employed by BBVS were not abnormally low, thus solidifying the consortium's rightful claim to the contract. In January, HS2's enabling works contractor, CSJV (Costain, Skanska), commenced the permanent construction of the Victoria Road crossover box near Old Oak Common. This critical infrastructure will facilitate the seamless transition of HS2 trains between tracks as they approach the new superhub station. Simultaneously, Network Rail has been diligently carrying out extensive decommissioning work at the site, meticulously removing outdated overhead electric lines and utilities.

The remarkable design development of the station was led by WSP and WilkinsonEyre, two industry-leading firms that collaborated to bring their visionary conceptual designs to fruition. Together, they have crafted an architectural masterpiece that promises to reshape the landscape of transportation and regeneration in the region.

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