HS2 enabling works

  • credit: Johnzammit.co.uk Absolute Photography Ltd
  • credit: Johnzammit.co.uk Absolute Photography Ltd

16.8 million hours. 2,300 people. An area the size of 37 football pitches, transformed. That’s what Costain Skanska joint venture (CSJV) delivered over a six-year period to pave the way for HS2 across London.

When CSJV was established in 2016, there were just 15 people working on the team. Since then, thousands more contributed to its success, creating the platform for the construction of HS2 main works in London and the stations at Euston and Old Oak Common.

Unprecedented scale

The majority of CSJV’s enabling works involved utility diversions, demolition and site clearances and a complex archaeological dig at St James Garden.

Their work along the 27km of Area South encountered some of the most complex, densely populated inner-city areas, crossing thousands of utility services and some of Britain’s busiest roads and railways.

Some of these achievements include crossing 21,000 utilities; 950,000 cubic metres of buildings demolished; 40,000 sets of remains meticulously excavated and over ten thousand documents and technical deliverables authored, reviewed and accepted.

Changing the industry

Challenges were many, but the size and scale of HS2 provided the team with a unique platform to try new things, to innovate, and to create a legacy never seen before in construction.

Through innovations and new technologies, the team have set new standards across the spectrum, in health and safety, in carbon reduction and in EDI.

For example, the teams’ innovative approach to demolition – using demolition curtains and a shipping container screen instead of scaffolding – significantly reduced the need for people working at height, reducing risk and boosting efficiency.

Their use of drones for site surveys in high-risk environments such as confined spaces and asbestos contaminated structures has made work not only safer, but more efficient.

The archaeological dig at St James’s burial ground in Euston - the biggest archaeological exhumation programme in Europe - secured its place in the history books through its extraordinary finds, fascinating millions across the nation through a BBC documentary.

And a culture of continuous learning and sharing of best practice will go on to shape how things are done moving forwards. Through the Learning Legacy and technical papers published externally, some of the innovative methods will go on to change our industry, making it safer, cleaner and greener for future generations.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. CSJV was the first HS2 contractor to eliminate diesel and achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ Design stage. And they’ve scooped numerous awards, from CECA to Community, Social inclusion and Women in Construction to name a few.

Leaving a legacy

CSJV also leave a lasting legacy on the communities in which they’ve worked.

Over £120m of social value has been driven by the team, leaving a sustainable legacy in jobs, economic growth and community investment that will continue many years after HS2 becomes operational.

Investments in the community, charity work and award-winning approaches to SEE and EDI; from Buses for Homeless, refurbished charity cafes, local fundraising efforts and many, many more, CSJV have touched thousands of lives across London.

Project statistics:


  • Over 2,300 people employed at peak
  • 8 million hours worked
  • 87 apprentices employed
  • Plus 215 people who had previously been out of work

Demolition / site clearance

  • 950,000m3 of buildings demolished
  • 165 buildings/structures
  • 131,000 hours of high-risk work eliminated
  • 163,000 tonnes of demolition material reused onsite
  • 99% waste materials recycled
  • 41,000 lorry movements removed from roads
  • 265,000 square meters of land cleared – an area the size of 37 football pitches


  • The installation of secondary glazing to 650+ properties
  • Delivered over £120m of social value for communities in London
  • 11,000 young people engaged in STEM topics
  • 80 schools engaged on the project
  • First ever floating homeless hub on a construction site


  • The biggest archaeological exhumation programme in Europe
  • 40,000 sets of remains excavated​​​​​​​
  • Use of electric and hybrid plant resulting in 140 tonnes of carbon savings
  • Over 9,800 hours worked in St James’ Gardens, with no reported incidents, back pain or musculoskeletal issues


  • More than 21,000 utilities crossed
  • Digital permitting system implemented with almost 5,000 digital permits issued
  • ​​​​​​​34,000m of new communications and electrical ducts laid
  • Crossing of Euston Road – where there’s a service every 250mm

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