HS2 announces carbon cutting milestone – 10 million tonnes of material already moved by rail

Yesterday [Thursday 11 May] HS2 announced that 10 million tonnes of material have been delivered to – and removed from – construction sites by rail, a major milestone in HS2’s plan to cut carbon emissions by removing lorries from roads.

Businesses involved came together to celebrate at an event at Tarmac’s Tunstead Quarry, including HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, aggregate suppliers, transport solution companies, and four freight operators – along with a unique line-up of locomotives from each company.

When HS2 launched its ‘Materials by Rail’ programme in 2020, the target by 2030 was to haul 10 million tonnes of aggregate to and from sites, taking up to 1.5 million lorries off the roads using up to 15,000 freight trains.

Working strategically with joint venture partners, Network Rail, freight operators and building materials companies, HS2 has already moved over 10 million tonnes of materials by rail in just over two years. It is now expected that HS2 will move 20 million tonnes of aggregate across the Phase One programme, removing three million lorries from the strategic road network on 30,000 freight trains.

During the event, Robert Largan, MP for High Peak said:

“This is a fantastic milestone for HS2 and it was great to celebrate it with the many companies involved in delivering it. HS2 is playing an important role right now for many businesses in our region and right across the country. Once operating, it will provide the much-needed extra capacity for busy passenger journeys in local areas, as well as freeing up more space for freight, taking lorries off the roads.”

David Speight, Delivery Director for Main Works Civils Phase One, HS2 Ltd said:

“Our ‘Materials by Rail’ strategy plays a vital role in our objective to cut carbon right across the project, and we’re working hard with our joint venture companies, Network Rail, freight operators and aggregate suppliers to make deliveries by rail where possible.

“In addition to cutting carbon emissions, HS2’s ‘Materials by Rail’ strategy is creating jobs and skills opportunities right across the country, along with minimising impacts to communities along the line of route.”

Aiden Theyer, Operations Management Apprentice, Tarmac, said:

“I’m so proud to have been a part of the celebration today – it’s a huge sustainability milestone, and one which has been achieved together. The overall project is a true reflection of how collaborative working with the site and industry can accomplish great things.

“If you had told me at the start of my apprenticeship that I’d be playing a part in the delivery of not only a regional but national infrastructure project of this size and impact, I’m not sure I’d have believed you! It’s a great feeling and I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to pursue a career within construction. It really is an exciting industry to work in.”

HS2 has been working with Network Rail for a number of years to ensure that capacity on the rail network is available for HS2’s contractors to deliver their requirements by rail rather than road.

Chris Bennett-Poynter, Regional Freight Manager – North West and Central Region at Network Rail said:

“We’re delighted to mark this significant milestone for HS2’s ‘Materials by Rail’ programme which is taking polluting lorries off our congested roads to transport aggregate across the country in a fast, reliable and environmentally friendly way.

“Reducing carbon emissions is a key priority for Network Rail and we will continue to work closely with HS2 and our industry partners to maximise further transportation of construction materials by rail.”

The event was attended by MP for High Peak Robert Largan, HS2 Ltd’s Conventional Rail Interface Manager Andrew Graham, Managing Director – Midlands Region at Tarmac Rob Doody, Regional Freight Manager – North West and Central Region at Network Rail Chris Bennett-Poynter and

Representatives from transport solutions companies also attended – Fishbone, Rail Stone Solutions (RSS), Legge infrastructure and Mendip Rail, along with the four freight operators – DB Cargo UK, DC Rail (part of the Cappagh Group of Companies), Freightliner and GB Railfreight (GBRf), and aggregate suppliers – Tarmac, Aggregate Industries, CEMEX UK and Hanson UK.

One of the Class 66 locomotives at the event, number 66796, was rebranded by GB Railfreight with an HS2 design in 2021 to mark the opening of the project’s London logistics hub. The HS2 locomotive was named ‘The Green Progressor’ by 17-year-old HS2 enthusiast, Jermaine from Leeds, who was also present at today’s milestone event.

All HS2’s main works contractors have contributed to the materials by rail milestone – Align (a joint venture formed of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick), BBV (Balfour Beatty VINCI), BBVS (Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA), EKFB (a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial and Bam Nuttall) and Skanska Costain STRABAG.

Along with freight operators and aggregate companies, UK businesses are already benefitting from contracts on HS2. There are now nearly 30,000 jobs supported by the programme and around 2,500 British-based businesses have delivered work on HS2 so far.

Once HS2 opens and moves long-distance, inter-city passenger services on to dedicated high-speed lines, the new railway will free up space for even more freight services across the country, as well as additional local and regional passenger trains.