HS2 boss tours new manufacturing site at Bolton facility

Mark Thurston visits Booth Industries

Bolton manufacturer Booth Industries welcomed HS2 chief executive, Mark Thurston, to its new purpose-built unit today (December 7) where it will make safety doors for HS2 rail tunnels.

The manufacture is part of the firm’s £36.5m 10-year contract awarded in September 2020.

Booth Industries has expanded its facility in Bolton and increased its workforce, including offering new apprenticeships. The company employed its first female apprentice earlier this year adding to its 130 staff based in Greater Manchester.

The new 600 sq m facility is next to the main factory in the heart of Bolton, and will increase the capacity on the production line, enabling the company to fulfil the HS2 contract while delivering other work.

The initial phase of the HS2 contract will focus on developing and testing, and then manufacturing the cast-in sub-frames. Manufacturing and installation is expected to start around 2025.

Speaking after his visit, Mark Thurston said: “There are businesses across the UK with the expertise and ability to help us build HS2 and Booth Industries is just one of over 2,000 that are already helping us do that.

“It is great to see the benefit the project is bringing to an SME in Bolton, as well as the onward economic impact through the local supply chain.”

He added: “As progress to build HS2 continues, there will be thousands of contract opportunities for UK companies to become part of this exciting national endeavour.”

The safety doors will play a crucial role in the operation of the railway, sealing off the cross passageways between the separate north and southbound tunnels and giving access in the event of an emergency.

With trains capable of travelling at speeds of up to 250 mph passing within metres of the doors, they will not only need to provide fire integrity and insulation for up to two hours, but will also have to withstand a wide range of challenging day-to-day environmental and fatigue pressures.

The doors will be capable of withstanding constant 14 Kpa pressure cycles, along with two hour Integrity and two hour insulation against fire – a world first and setting a new benchmark within the industry.

They will be manufactured using majority UK-made steel and fitted across the 32 miles of tunnel between London and Crewe.

Mike Jenkinson, managing director of Booth Industries, said: “We’re proud to welcome HS2 to our primary site in Bolton, where our new state-of-the-art, energy efficient, manufacturing facility has just been built. The new facility provides valuable additional capacity to facilitate the delivery of several key public sector contracts, including our work for HS2.

“The skills required to deliver this project are highly specialised, including modelling the effect of a 200 mph wind load created by trains as they pass the doors at high speed, destructive testing for fatigue and fire testing in furnaces, reaching temperatures of around 1,000 degrees Celsius. Delivering on this means pairing decades of knowledge and unique IP with new innovative techniques and designs.”

He added: “Securing the contract has also enabled us to create new jobs, including apprenticeships and graduate positions, and many more will come once we move into the manufacturing and installation phases.

“We are delighted to be part of this key infrastructure project and looking forward to delivering a programme of great British engineering and manufacturing we can all be proud of.”

As the construction of HS2 gathers further pace, thousands of contract opportunities will be available, creating many associated jobs. To date, more than 20,000 people are supporting the construction of HS2, and nearly 2,400 UK businesses delivering the work.