PressOn & HS2 – On Board With Britain’s New High Speed Rail Line

Client: HS2
Sector: Construction, Infrastructure
Services: Install, Print

PressOn have previously worked (and continue to work) on a number of large-scale infrastructure projects, including the Thames Tideway Tunnel – London’s desperately needed new sewer system – and the Crossrail project.

Having earned our stripes in the world of large format printing for infrastructure projects, we’re thrilled to have been given the opportunity to take responsibility for the site hoarding graphics on one of the UK’s most exciting upcoming projects – the HS2 High Speed Railway.

One of the most inspiring things about print (or at least as far as we’re concerned!) is the fact that it remains relevant to almost every industry. Whether that means floor or lift graphics for a retail client, or a full fleet livery for an international brand, being a specialist print supplier means we get to work on a genuinely inspiring portfolio of projects, in everything from construction to transport – or in the case of HS2, both…

What Is HS2?

High speed 2 train

(Image: Capita)

Dubbed the ‘backbone of Britain’s transport network’, HS2 is the new high speed rail line linking the north and the south of the nation. Following the success of HS1, the first high speed line in the UK, HS2 will be longer, larger, and will have a more profound impact on the country’s connectivity. It will facilitate faster transport for both work and leisure, and reduce the overcrowding and transport reliability issues currently faced by much of the UK population.

When complete, the new service will bridge the north-south divide, and in doing so increase trade, boost tourism and regenerate towns and cities. Expected to carry over 300,000 passengers every day, HS2 will comprise 345 miles of track, connecting the city centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds – as well as providing services to other towns and cities in Scotland and the north of England via existing lines.

How are PressOn involved?

HS2 hoardings

Considering the scale and scope of the project, it might seem unusual that an SME such as PressOn are directly involved – but as part of the program of construction, HS2 have committed to onboarding local businesses at every stage of the process – you might even notice #OnBoard being used by these enterprises across social media channels!

Since December 2016, PressOn have been responsible for the print and installation of the construction site hoarding graphics for HS2. To date, we have produced over 40 individual jobs, including graphics for major projects such as the sites at Euston Square Gardens, UCL, Park Village East, and Drummond Street.

PressOn have printed a staggering 877 complete panels, in addition to all the corresponding headers and kickers (these are the additional strips of panelling at the top and bottom of a hoarding that hide the fixings and ensure the panels stagger seamlessly). The result: an astonishing 1070 linear metres of hoarding graphics.

Using our HP Latex printers, the wide range of graphics printed and installed have all had a laminate applied before being pressure mounted to the ACM panels for the hoardings.

HS2 – giving SMEs the chance to shine

Hs2 visit PressOn


While the actual printing and installation of the hoarding graphics is something PressOn are both familiar with and confident in delivering, the enormous scale and scope of the projects involved in HS2 presented quite the logistical challenge.

However, the fact that we have been able to consistently meet and manage these projects is not only a testament to our fantastic and dedicated team – it shows that it isn’t just huge national or international brands that can tackle this kind of work, and SME print suppliers such as PressOn have the resources and talent to tackle almost any projects.

It’s for precisely this reason that being part of the HS2 work has been not only such a pleasure, but a humbling experience. HS2 continue to meet and work with SMEs and communities in every area that serves to benefit from the track, holding meetings, forums, and roundtable discussions.

This is being done to ensure that everyone who stands to benefit from the project, both during and after its construction, has ample opportunity to do so – and it means the public and the businesses who are involved either directly or indirectly have a chance to be heard, and contribute.  

Hoarding highlights:

With a project of this scale, it’s not surprising that several of the hoarding projects we’ve completed for the track have stood out. HS2 have opted not to use the same graphic design for every hoarding site, instead choosing to design and install artwork that is reflexive and adaptive to the surrounding local communities.

A few highlights include:

Drummond Street

Drummond street hoardings

The hoardings at Drummond Street are a fantastic example of how hoardings can be used as a brilliant advertising and marketing opportunity for local enterprise. These hoardings featured artwork that incorporates images of the local business community.

Euston Square Gardens/Grant Thornton House

Hoardings at Euston Square Garden

When hoardings collide with green areas, they can stand out – which is precisely why the hoardings at Euston Square Gardens and Grant Thornton house were designed to blend into their surroundings. Using a natural green ivy design, these hoardings complemented the trees within the square, and instead used the base of the panels to reference HS2, CSJV (the Costain/Skanska Joint Venture) and their respective websites/details.

The same design was also employed in the more rural Harefield site, which used the nature-based green designs to complement their countryside surroundings.


Euston Square Walkway

Hoardings at Euston square garden

The design for the Euston Square walkway hoardings was designed to be gender, race, and disability neutral, tapping into the ethos of HS2 by representing a population that is connected and equal. A white background featured the outline of figured in a multicoloured hue, so no particular silhouette could be identified.

The impact of HS2 for PressOn

We’re pleased to say that it isn’t just the nation that will be reaping the benefits of the HS2 project, but PressOn as well! As a direct result of the contract, we have been able to invest £250,000 in state-of-the-art printing equipment, and employ new talent to start in January.

We also recently had the pleasure of hosting HS2 CEO Mark Thurston, & James Richardson and Tim Burr of Costain Group for a factory tour. It was a fantastic opportunity for an SME such as PressOn to demonstrate just how valuable a contribution businesses such as us have to offer HS2 and the wider economy. You can take a look at a video of the visit here!

The visit was topped off with a hugely productive round table discussion with Jo James, the CEO of the Kent Invicta Chamber Of Commerce and Cllr Allan Jarrett, the head of Medway Council – about the potential positive impact HS2 and similar projects can have on businesses in local areas.

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