500 Somerset jobs after HS2 contract award

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A brand new factory will be built in Somerset to fabricate concrete components for the rail track for the ongoing large-scale HS2 project.HS2 (High Speed ​​Two) is a massive UK transport project that will see London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds connected by a Y-shaped network of high-speed rail tracks.

It was confirmed today (October 5) that the slab track segments for the project will be fabricated at Shepton Mallet prior to being transferred to the HS2 route.

The £ 260million contract has been awarded to PORR UK Ltd and Aggregate Industries UK, and will see the construction of a new factory at the existing Aggregate site near Shepton Mallet.

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During the term of the contract, 500 new jobs will be created at the specially designed facility, which will build the “modular slab rail system”.

This is a specialized concrete layer to which the metal rails are attached.

This type of system – which is used on several high-speed railways around the world – will reduce maintenance costs and improve performance over traditional ballasted tracks, according to a statement from HS2.



An example of the concrete ‘modular slab rail system’ to be built in the new Somerset plant

HS2 Ltd Purchasing and Trade Director David Poole said: “HS2 is designed to provide reliable high frequency, high capacity rail services to millions of people across the UK.

“The slab rail will provide long-term value for money with lower maintenance costs and greater reliability and that is why I am happy that today we are awarding this contract to the PORR consortium.

“This award – and the announcement of the new factory in Somerset – is another example of how HS2 is already supporting businesses across the UK, creating jobs and helping the economy recover from the pandemic. coronavirus. ”

PORR is one of Austria’s leading engineering companies and one of the first companies in the world to develop a slab rail system.

PORR’s slab rail system has been used to lay more than 780 kilometers of track around the world – with its first section running almost maintenance-free since it was laid in Langenlebern, Austria, in 1989.

Aggregate Industries UK is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of building materials, employing over 3,700 people at 300 locations across the UK.

Simon Jukes, Managing Director of PORR UK Ltd, said: “The PORR consortium is delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this major contract and will bring to the HS2 project a wealth of technical expertise and experience in the field of high speed rails and slab tracks.

“We look forward to working with the HS2 team to provide a sustainable world-class rail infrastructure for the UK. “

A separate track systems contractor – to be appointed in 2022 – will have overall responsibility for managing and coordinating the design and installation of the complex rail systems in each section of the route.

This includes the installation of the slab rail manufactured by the PORR consortium and interfacing with the signaling and overhead power supply.

Separate specialist contractors will also provide the rails, switches and crossings, high voltage power supply, communications, and mechanical and electrical systems.

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