HS2’s ‘Bellingham Bridge’ takes shape in Birmingham

HS2’s ‘Bellingham Bridge’ takes shape in Birmingham

HS2 has completed the four major pillars of the Curzon 2 bridge, marking a significant milestone in the construction of the sequence of viaducts that will carry high-speed trains into and out of Birmingham.

The bridge, which has been nicknamed the “Bellingham Bridge” after Stourbridge-born English football star Jude Bellingham, is the tallest structure on a 1.6km stretch of connected viaducts being built in the industrial heart of the town.

It will carry high-speed trains over the existing Victorian brick railway viaduct, with a 25-metre-high curved truss displaying a vibrant light installation that will create a new icon on the city skyline.

Work began on the four pillars in autumn 2023, with each structure now 16 metres high. Assembly of the weathered steel deck and curved truss has already begun and is due to be completed next spring.

The 150-meter-long deck is being assembled on the seven pillars of the adjacent Curzon 1 viaduct, with about 130 individual pieces lifted by crane. The entire deck and truss structure, weighing more than 4,000 tons, will then be slid 190 meters into place at Curzon 2 piers using a lifting system. This operation is scheduled to take place over 12 days in the summer of 2025.

The viaduct includes a unique light installation, designed by British artist Liz West, which will introduce a dynamic color palette into the openings of the steel truss, framing views of the city. Titled Out of the blueThe proposed public artwork will create a dramatic element in Birmingham’s cityscape.

As a gateway to Birmingham, high-speed trains will depart from the western portal of the 3.5-mile Bromford Tunnel at Washwood Heath and head onto the one-mile stretch of five connected viaducts – Duddeston Junction, Curzon 1, Curzon 2, Lawley Halfway It is Curzon 3 which connects to the platforms at Curzon Street Station.

The Curzon access viaducts are being built by HS2 contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI in the West Midlands, with a team of more than 250 people including engineering apprentices, steel welders, steel fixers and joiners.

David King, Senior Project Manager at HS2 Ltd, said:

“With the completion of these four huge viaducts, HS2’s gateway to Birmingham has taken another leap forward.

“Passengers travelling on the new high-speed trains will experience a fantastic gateway into the city as they exit the Bromford Tunnel at Washwood Heath and climb this impressive stretch of viaducts on the approach to the new state-of-the-art Curzon Street station.”

Onder Akin, Senior Project Manager at Balfour Beatty VINCI, said:

“This iconic bridge is part of a complex series of connected viaducts that will snake through the industrial heart of Birmingham. I am proud of how the BBV team has risen to the challenge of building these structures in such a busy urban space, working around existing rail lines and utilities.

“The completion of the four 16-metre-high piers to support the bridge shows the great progress we are making, and the team is now preparing for operation next year, which we believe will be among the longest bridge launches of its kind ever delivered in the UK.”

The design for the Curzon Street access section was developed by a design joint venture of Mott MacDonald and Systra and architects Weston Williamson + Partners, all working for Balfour Beatty VINCI.

Nicholas Robertshaw, Design Project Director at Mott MacDonald SYSTRA Design Joint Venture, said:

“It is clear that from the height of the completed piers, the Curzon 2 viaduct will become an iconic part of the Birmingham skyline, referencing the city’s industrial heritage.

“The work done to date is testament to the collaborative efforts made by all parties to design this vital piece of transport infrastructure in a way that will benefit passengers and leave a lasting legacy for the wider Birmingham community.”

A truss bridge is a lightweight but strong bridge made up of connected elements that form triangular units and constructed using a relatively small amount of material. This makes the truss form ideal for assembling offline and then launching from one end and in one piece across the existing railway viaduct below.

The truss is designed to “wrap” the viaduct, extending the lower portion of the steel to wrap underneath the viaduct deck and forming a visual connection with the steel girders of the adjacent structures. The viaduct deck itself will carry three parallel high-speed rail tracks over the existing east-west rail line.

When completed, HS2 will improve connections between London and the West Midlands, with trains running further north on existing lines. This new high-speed railway will create faster and much more reliable journeys, boosting economic growth while crucially freeing up space for more local trains on the most congested part of the existing West Coast Main Line.