Rainham Viaduct

This is one of three viaducts that can be found along the 13-KM (8-mile) section of "High Speed 1" in-between the portals of Dagenham and Thames Tunnels. It is this part of the line that formed Contract 310 of what was originally known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link’s (CTRL) "Section 2", the latter of which encompassed the 39-KM (24¼-miles) from St Pancras to Southfleet Junction. The contract was worth £178 million and, in addition to viaducts at Rainham, Aveley, and Thurrock, encompassed the construction of eleven bridges, required three road diversions, and necessitated about 10-KM of piled slabs and elevated piles to support the railway across the Thames Marshes.

On 1st October 2001, it was announced that Eurolink — a joint venture between Miller Civil Engineering Services Ltd (a division of Morgan Sindall Plc) and Vinci Construction Grands Projets — had been awarded Contract 310 (ref: Morgan Sindall Plc press release, 1st October 2001). Preparation works were planned to start immediately, actual on-site building in March 2002, with a scheduled completion of the contract by December 2004.

Rainham Viaduct extends for approximately 520 metres. Construction required the boring of a series of holes into unstable marshland; these gaps were then reinforced with a lining of steel bars and subsequently in-filled with concrete. The steel bars stuck out of the ground and were later joined together by a horizontal framework providing reinforcement for the concrete slab underneath the tracks (ref: The Railway Magazine, June 2003).

Opening of the CTRL’s "Section 2" and, therefore, completion of the entire route from London to the Kent Coast, was scheduled for the first quarter of 2007 (ref: The Arup Journal, January 2004). However, driver training did not begin until 20th July of that year, and scheduled international passenger services later commenced on 14th November 2007. The first Eurostar formation — comprised of Class 373 set Nos. 3017/3018 — had passed over "Section 2" of the CTRL on the night of 4th December 2006, being dragged by Class 66 No. 66088 (ref: The Railway Magazine, February 2007). The purpose of the move was to test clearances in Dagenham and Thames Tunnels.

8th June 2011

A north westward view shows a Class 373 formation — made up of "half set" Nos. 3207 and 3208 — embarking on Rainham Viaduct, St Pancras-bound. The structure has been referred to in some texts as a "ground-level" viaduct as a result of its low height. In the right background, beyond the noise barricade, can just be seen the lampposts of Rainham station, situated on the London, Tilbury & Southend line. © David Glasspool Collection