Over the past few weeks I’ve been privileged to visit two of the major High Speed 2 railway construction sites. Firstly the one at Calvert, Buckinghamshire on the 23rd June where HS2 will cross the rebuilt East-West Railway, then the site at West Hyde in Hertfordshire on the 13th July where the Chiltern tunnels are being driven North whilst the Colne valley viaduct will be built Southwards. My article on the Calvert site will be appearing in a future edition of RAIL magazine but I’ll be blogging at length about my visit to West Hyde next week. Both visits demonstrate how construction of the new railway is ramping up massively now that contractors have finally been able to mobilise and begin the main civil engineering. This process will really more obvious next year when the Colne valley viaduct starts to span the lakes as you can’t see the tunneling and many cuttings that are being constructed are below peoples line of sight, so out of view – especially as they’re tucked away in the countryside. It’s the bridges and stations that are the most visible signs of progress. I’ve now got most of the pictures I’ve taken during my visits online. You can find them in this gallery on my Zenfolio website.
Over the the next few months I’ll be visiting other HS2 construction site to bring you views and in-depth news of what’s actually going on with the largest construction project in Europe. As well as the engineering I’ll be talking a look at some of the ecological and mitigation work that’s being carried out to make this the greenest project of its kind.
What you’ll be hearing less and less about is the protests against HS2, becuase they’ve collapsed.
Having reached their height last summer they’ve been gradually fizzling out ever since. The Euston Gardens tunnel eviction early this year was their most public failure, but there’s been many since. Now, even their umbrella group – HS2Rebellion – are tacitly admitting that the protests asre on the wane. Yesterday they announced that after 38 issues their weekly (no)newsletter is going from weekly to fortnightly!
Mind you, its appearence has beeb patchy for some months due to a lack of anything to report. Deserted ‘protection’ camps don’t produce anything so they’ve filled space by talking about other political campaigns. Here’s a look at their probel. These are the ‘protection’ camps they list on their website with my annotations to reflect the true picture that HS2Rebellion aren’t admitting.
Hardly what you’d call an active campaign, is it? The handful of people left at the camps are in no position to mount any coherent actions against HS2, most of their time seems to be spent getting splinters in their backsides whilst appealling for funds to keep them in food. Even their social media activity’s dropping away as the mostly young people involved lose interest and find other things to get outraged about. When you consider the summer is meant to be the height of the activist season it’s clear they’re a busted flush now.
Come the autumn when it’s clear they’ve failed to ‘protect’ anything, much less actually stop HS2 I’m expecting the last few camps on Phase 1 to pack up and the people involved either drift off to other campaigns or try to set up new camps on Phase 2a. But they have several problems. Their support up North is nowhere near as strong or well-established as it was in the Chilterns, the weather’s harsher in the winter and they’re going to be waiting until Spring 2024 before the main civils work starts on phase 2a. That’s three winters away. Care to take bets on how many people are willing or able to sit around for that length of time – even if they’re not evicted first? So, as you can see, this is going to be the final year of any organised (and I use that term very loosly) campaign against HS2, which leaves me free to write about other things. No doubt I’ll still keep a watchful eye on the rump of their campaign as it continues to sink but I’m looking forward to writing future blogs on the positive events going on with the HS2 project.
I’ve a favour to ask…
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