All-terrain ability has helped make the new generation of Toyota Hilux light commercial vehicles the natural choice for an Anglo-French consortium constructing a key section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) – the UK’s first high-speed line, currently under construction between the Channel Tunnel and London.

Now 49 of the robust 4x4s are being supplied over the next 12 months in a half-million pound deal. The vehicles were chosen for their ability to cope in difficult marshy terrain. This followed the contractors’ positive experience when using hired Hilux pickups whilst building the Medway river crossing in Kent, during phase one of the project over the past two years.

The contractors, English and French bridge-building specialists, have since formed a consortium called Morgan-Vinci to participate in the second phase of the project north of the Thames. Morgan-Vinci is building a nine-mile raised section over Essex marshland between Dagenham and Thurrock, linking the tunnel to London with the one being built under the Thames. The work is expected to take two and a half years and cost some £177m.

The vehicles are being bought outright in a solus deal with Toyota Fleet and dealership McCarthy Maidstone, which is carrying out all servicing and maintenance. Morgan-Vinci has also ordered Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado 4x4s for two of its directors. The Hilux pickups chosen are the new D-4D EX models, the majority being Single-Cab with some Double-Cab, fitted with Truckman Tops and towbars. To cope with the tough demands that will be made on them, all are being ply-lined to help maintain them in good condition for resale.

“This will be a good test of the vehicles’ durability,” says Mark Hunter, who oversees plant procurement for Morgan-Vinci. “The Hilux pickups are being used on all sections of the work – off-road on the earthworks, by the surveyors, the engineering department, the workshop and electrical departments and the concrete batching plant personnel who mix the concrete.

“The Hilux was one of our preferred choices after our experience while building the bridge, though we also looked at the Land Rover Defender 90, Mitsubishi L200 and Ford Ranger,” says Mark. A combination of performance and price were the main selection criteria. “The Hilux covered all areas and the back-up service from McCarthy Maidstone has been excellent – the whole package combined to point us in the direction of Toyota. What counts is that the vehicles are out there doing what they were bought to do – which isn’t to spend time in the garage!”

The new Hilux EX in Single Cab form is powered by a 2.4-litre D-4D direct injection common rail diesel engine, putting out 102bhp and 260Nm@1,600-2,400rpm. It drives through a five-speed gearbox with high/low ratios, selectable 2/4WD and limited-slip differential. Payload is 900kg and five people can be carried in comfort.

“This is a very important order, and once again it underlines the resilience and versatility of the Toyota Hilux,” says Jon Pollock, General Manager of Toyota Fleet. “The Hilux was recently chosen by the RNLI for its new Beach Rescue service because it was felt to be the best choice for working on sand – here a similar view in relation to marshy terrain has been taken by specialists in their field. The Hilux has proven reliability and is highly competitive in terms of both purchase price and whole-life cost.”



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