Today the High Court released the full details and legal argument of their judgement on Chris Packham’s appeal for an interim injunction to stop tree felling on the route of HS2, and also his application for a Judicial Review. Both were rejected last week, but today the judges (Lord Justice Coulson and Mr Justice Holgate) published their judgement which you can find here.
It’s brutal. If I were Packham’s solicitors I’d be reaching for either the brandy or the smelling salts because they do not come out of this well. One only has to wonder about the quality of advice they gave to Packham as the judges make no bones about what they think, or found. I’d also suggest the man himself should have a long hard think and consider if the money donated to his Crowdfunder to bring this (obviously) futile action which clearly had no chance of success (as the judgement explains) was well spent. Here’s some snippets.
“Overlong and repetitive with an unfortunately imperious tone”? Ouch!
It gets worse…
If his solicitors (Leigh-Day) cheeks weren’t burning after that last slap, they should be after this one!
As you’d expect from High Court judges, the judgement goes into great detail, with references to case law and legal opinion. It gives not a single crumb of comfort to Packham or his legal team. I said in previous blogs that Packham’s obsession with the Oakervee was barking up the wrong tree (if you’ll pardon the pun) and the High Court make that clear. Oh, the final sentence of the 30 page judgement is a zinger, not just for Packham, but also for the eco-fascists who’re breaking the covid-19 Lockdown to tie up Police, Court Bailiffs and security guards on the HS2 construction sites.
The reaction to all this on social media has been muted so far, mainly because the judgement won’t reach many people. Twitter however, is different. Here’s on reaction, which sums things up rather well, including Packham’s predicament…
So, if you support HS2 or not. Next time Packham and his legal time ask you for money. Don’t throw it away, again. Those opposed to HS2 have wasted millions of pounds on futile legal actions over the years, much of that money’s been raised from poor sods who’ve been persuaded to part with it via Crowdfunders and appeals. It’s wasted more millions of public funds in defending these actions. And all for what? Nothing. Hs2 is being built. Now…
A bit of good news today. Celebrity ‘Environmentalist’ (and paid tour-guide to the jet-set in exotic locations) Chris Packham has lost his legal case against HS2 today. In a double-blow he not only lost his call for an immediate injunction to stop tree felling in Crackley woods, the two judges hearing his case also refused his application for a Judicial Review on the grounds that “there was no real prospect of success” – which is hardly surprising as Packham had fixated on the Oakervee report and its conclusions, ignoring the fact it was merely a non-statutory review that had no legal standing unlike the Environmental Impact Assessment, or indeed – the Parliamentary process and legality of a Hybrid Bill that has been granted Royal Assent!
Needless to say, this leaves his eco-fascist supporters on the ground up shit creek. Or in their case – up a tree! Bailiffs are continuing with the eviction sanctioned by the High Court and already some of the tiny bunch of people in the trees have been brought down and several arrested.
Meanwhile, the game of bullshit bingo on social media continues with no lie too big to tell. The irony is the protesters are claiming this fiasco as a ‘victory’ as they’ve managed to delay work for all of – ooh – a few days! The levels of delusion and arrogance amongst the protesters is a sight to behold on social media- as is the bluster. They pretend they’re actually the law and will be taking others to court. Really? Remind me, who’s being arrested and who’s doing the arresting? These people need to give their heads a wobble. One day they’re issuing their demands (seriously? Get over yourselves!), the next day the real world loses its patience with them and they realise just who is in charge as they’re taken down from the trees by the law and nicked.
I wish I could have respect for people who claim to be protecting the environment, but honestly, this bunch do nothing but harm to the environmental movement because their sense of self-righteousness and inability to understand how ordinary people see their antics. Their sanctimoniousness is weapons-grade. They completely ignore the costs and logistics of keeping their tiny band from causing trouble. There’s literally hundreds of security staff, bailiffs and police being tied up here, not to mention the miles of fencing and other material needed – and all for what, so that the eco-fascists can ponce around in their pointless videos on the likes of Facebook and Instagram. But what does these videos actually show? Their utter failure to stop anything.
But, do you know the real irony about these people who’re kicking up a fuss about Crackley woods? Have a look at a map.
HS2 can be seen at the top of the map just clipping the edge of the wood and avoiding the majority of it. It couldn’t do any less damage than it is as this is clearly the optimum alignment. But, hang on – what’s that dismantled railway below it that pierced the very heart of the wood? That’s the former Kenilworth-Berkswell LNWR route (opened in 1884). It’s now part of the Kenilworth Greenway, which will be temporarily diverted between Burton Green and Berkswell during HS2 construction, and then restored alongside HS2 when it is completed, including passing through the new public open space that will be created atop the Burton Green green tunnel . . . reuniting the centre of the village that was cut in half in 1884 by the LNWR line! So, the Victorians clearly had less regard for the environment and ancient woodland than HS2 does!
I’ll look forward to seeing the Judges judgement on Packham’s daft court case on Monday. I suspect it’s not going to be kind. I feel sorry for the poor mugs who he persuaded into putting up the money for this through crowdfunding. Meanwhile, expect the Government granting HS2 ‘Notice to Proceed’ very very soon…
Regular readers will know of my exasperation at the UK’s ‘green’ movement, which seems to spend more time alienating people through its attitudes and behaviours than it does getting them on board. I find it intensely frustrating as we desperately need a credible Green voice in politics and in general. Sadly, we’ve ended up with a bunch of finger-waggers and self-appointed ‘saviours’ of the planet who’re either actively undemocratic or entirely useless. Instead of persuading people to change their behaviours in their own long-term interests and using democratic means to do so, they come across as a mix of eco-fascists and loons.
Here’s an example from the protests against building HS2, Britain’s new high-speed railway. Yes, I know – you’d think Greens would be all for it. But that involves being sensible, pragmatic and seeing the bigger picture. Those are three things noticeably absent from much of the UK’s ‘Green’ movement. Take a look at this.
Seriously? Here’s a bit of background. These clowns are up a tree in Crackley Woods in Warwickshire, in defiance of a High Court Injunction. The only reason they’ve no food is their planning was so piss-poor they never took enough up into the trees with them for more than a couple of days. Instead (stupidly) they expected to be resupplied by friends on the ground. They’re now whining that the High Court Bailiffs and security people won’t let food through to them – and prolong the circus even further, which means everyone is more at risk from Coronovirus.
“Prisoners of war”? They inflicted this upon themselves and they’re free to leave at any time. Instead, they’re playing martyr. Not only that, they’re comparing themselves to people who’ve actually fought for their country to uphold the democratic system. What’s democratic about them? Nothing. They’re eco-fascists. They’re ignoring the fact the HS2 bill was passed by Parliament with a massive majority in both the Commons and the Lords, and they’re ignoring the law of the land as enforced by the High Court. They’re entirely self-appointed and (unlike Parliament) unaccountable. They consider themselves to be above the law. They also spout a load of uninformed rubbish, but that’s another matter…
Their hypocrisy is breathtaking. Their tiny and futile protests are costing a fortune due to the levels of security needed to protect the sites, the delays incurred and the fact they’re tying up literally hundreds of site security people, High Court Bailiffs and police officers when they should and could be at home, safe from exposure to covid-19. Than they have the brass-neck to point the finger at everyone else – and use the NHS in their propaganda.
How is this an advert for the Green movement? These people are preventing us building the rail capacity we need to get modal shift from air/road to rail. It’s madness – but that’s the level of intellectual bankruptcy of the UK’s greens I’m afraid.
The road lobby and oil companies must be laughing their socks off.
I see the Coventry Telegraph has published a list of these clowns demands! – as if they’re in any position to make any – but then this simply shows how arrogant and out of touch with the real world these people are, and also how undemocratic they are. I’ve reproduced them here.
“We have 5 demands.
Ultimately, we want to stop HS2. It does not serve ordinary people. It does not accommodate for a culture gearing towards a society with ecology on the agenda. HS2 is proclaimed to be carbon neutral in 120 years, yet during a time of biological annihilation and climate emergency, they consider wiping out precious woodland and endangered habitat a sound ecological plan.
The British public have not been informed of the costs or the implications of the project. Considering this is the most expensive railway per mile in the history of the world, at an estimated £307 million per mile, and being paid for by public money, this is completely undemocratic. We therefore seek a democratic solution.
We demand a citizen’s assembly in the nature of the one used in Ireland for the repeal of the eighth amendment on abortion. This will ensure public money is used to meet public needs not private interests … This is our primary demand.
We also have demands that require immediate action.
• Stop HS2 during this pandemic . This is not essential work. HS2 should not be exempt from their current social responsibility. We have witnessed the impossibility of workers being able to keep to their social distancing.
• Stop this eviction, and all others, during this pandemic . We have witnessed the bailiffs be unwilling or unable to comply with the social distancing policy. Any kind of eviction brings high stress, which threatens the immune system. We are also at a height of 20 metres from the woodland floor, exposed to the elements with no free access to food or water. We are being given an ultimatum: either highly risk our personal immune systems, and therefore our close family and community’s health, or hold onto our current home, which is part of the little remaining precious ecosystem we all rely on. This is completely unjust.
• Stop any irreversible work until both Chris Packham’s court case on the legality of the project, and Notice to Proceed go ahead. That includes habitat destruction of any kind, work involving displacing homes, ground and preparatory works, etc.
• Should work cease, we demand that workers receive adequate compensation , the sum of which to be decided by the workers themselves, as only they know the needs for which this compensation need fill. The fallouts of poor decisions made by upper management and politicians should not fall upon those who are forced to implement them.
Signed, The thirsty occupants x”
And you wonder why I have no time for these people?
Wahey! I managed to get the time to write this blog on the actual day! Mainly because I’ve not scanned quite as many old slides today and only added forty to this gallery – although there’s another 20 all set up to scan first thing in the morning.
That’s not to say it’s been an unproductive day, nor one without it’s lighter side. Dawn’s decided that when she mentions these blogs they need to talked about in her best Geordie ‘Big Brother’ voiceover which quite amused me ‘cos the connection hadn’t occurred to me. That said, I know who I’d rather be locked in a house with – and it isn’t a bunch of shallow, preening narcissists hoping to win a load of money. Not that I’ve got anything against earning money. I’m sure many of us would care to remember what that’s like right now!
Once I’d managed my quota of pictures and Dee had waded through the work she needed to do we combined our afternoon constitutional with a shopping trip. The weather’s been pretty good in the Pennines since the lockdown, which is rather ironic when you think about think about it but it did make the stroll through the woods and down into Sowerby Bridge easier. It’s not much fun in a howling gale or when the rain’s coming in across the valley horizontally. Plus, nowadays you can’t exactly nip into a nice warm pub for a ‘swifty’ whilst you wait for the rain to pass.
This time the shops we visited had everything we needed bar one thing. Tea. Dee likes Yorkshire tea and we couldn’t get that for love nor money. Both Tesco’s and Lidl were quiet, which was no bad thing. This was the first time I’d used Lidl since the lockdown and social distancing had really kicked in. They’re more relaxed about rules than Tesco and Sainsbury’s. There’s no-one stood outside limiting entry, but to be honest, they didn’t need to as there were so few people and the ones who were had already got the message. The only real difference was that each cashier had a Perspex screen separating them from the customers – but only face to face as their till packing areas are too small to allow real distancing.
The one group that really seem to be really enjoying the lockdown are Sowerby Bridge’s famous free-range geese! They’re strutting around like the own the place and are making themselves more and more at home now that those pesky humans in their motor cars aren’t around to get in their way!
Strolling home uphill with all the shopping was good exercise if a little tedious as it’s nearly all we get to do nowadays, which is why we’re excited about tomorrow. We have a legitimate reason to break out of the valley as we’ll be going to Huddersfield to do Dawn’s parents shopping for them. Funny how these things take on so much more meaning right now, isn’t it? It almost feels like an adventure.
Back home we’ve both knuckled down to a few more hours work, although I’ve been keeping one eye on Facebook, purely to keep an eye on the tiny anti HS2 protests at Crackley wood in Warwickshire, where a half dozen people are holed-up in tree houses, in breach of a High Court injunction. They’re supported by a rag-bag camp of a couple of dozen people on the ground, but it’s all pretty farcical as they haven’t got a chance of stopping HS2. The whole thing is a farce that’s being livestreamed to social media by the protesters, some of whom are coming under the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ banner. Some of the video is excruciating to watch. It’s like watching paint dry as they jerkily livesteam an hour of nothing really happening, then accompany it with a voiceover of someone rambling away or playing Stop Hs2 ‘bullshit bingo’. You can tick off the spin and trite phrases easy as they’re repeated on an endless loop. “Illegal eviction”? Check. “Ecocide”? Yup. “Hs2’s as wide as a motorway”? Got it. “It’s destroying the environment”? Tick. “It’s costing at least £160bn”?, that one too…
But the absolute, weapons-grade hypocrisy of these people is to try and use Covid19 and social distancing against the project workers. Why? Because if it wasn’t for this tiny bunch of self-appointed ‘eco-warriors’ ignoring the lockdown and flouting a High Court injunction in a futile protest, literally dozens of HS2 security workers, High Court Bailiffs and the National Eviction Team that support them (not to mention the police, who’ve got better things to do) could all be at home – or doing something vital out of harms way, rather than nurse-maiding a few people who want to play at ‘swampy’ whilst indulging in their ego-tripping across social media. Someone sending them love-hearts on Facebook is about a useful as Americans sending ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the survivors or families of the dead from the latest mass shooting. Here’s an example of the hypocrisy. This was posted to Facebook by some of the protesters, commending their ‘brave’ demonstrator whilst roundly condemning the Bailiffs, who’re only there because of this clown!
No doubt the eviction of the tree-dwellers will happen in the next few days, not that it’s stopping much work. HS2 have voluntarily closed down some other sides where it’s impossible to keep working within the social-distancing protocols. This is mostly on sites on built-up areas like London where staff have to travel to work by public transport.
The sooner the evictions happen the sooner social media will be spared this crap, self-aggrandizing videos and the bandwidth can be given over to something useful – like people who’re social distancing sharing photos of kittens, or something…
The pair of us are now having a few hours off from social media to spend some time together away from computers. See you on the other side!
To say the tiny bunch of self-appointed ‘eco-warriors’ have lost the plot in these troubled times is putting it mildly. Right now they’ve deployed weapons-grade hypocrisy and rank stupidity in equal measures. Just take a look at this video.
Literally nothing they claim in this video is true. The irony of all their claims about being assaulted? They’re being watched by half a dozen police officers (who really do have much better things to do with their time right now). Said officers just might know a bit more about the law than these protesters with their histrionics.
Their hypocritical claims that the HS2 security workers are ‘breaking the law’ by not keeping 2 metres apart? There is no such law (it’s advice that doesn’t apply in this situation).
Oh, and watch serially failed Green Party Candidate Mark Keir getting right into the faces of the security people as he more and more frequently loses his rag (a not uncommon sight nowadays, how long before he’s nicked for threatening behaviour I wonder)? This is the man I highlighted in my latest crazy anti Hs2 campaigner blog as the ultimate hypocrite. Social distancing my arse! This is the clown who was berating men for not keeping their distance yet here he can be seen pressed up against them, covering them in his spittle as he rants and rages!
The ultimate irony? Without these increasingly futile and idiotic protests none of the police or security guards would need to be there and several million pounds of taxpayers money could be spent elsewhere. On things like the NHS perhaps?
It’s time those who’re financially supporting these idiotic antics by ineffective barrack-room lawyers and faux ‘eco-warriors’ (have you seen the mess their ‘protest’ camps make in woodland?) take a good look at what they’re funding and the utter pointlessness of it. Because this isn’t saving woodland, or the planet. Exactly the opposite in fact.
Because, without Hs2, we simply don’t have the rail capacity for the future to get people & freight off roads and cut transport Co2 emissions to tackle Climate Change. Stopping HS2 isn’t ‘green’, it’s exactly the opposite. These people can’t see the woods for the trees.
It’s absolutely ages since I’ve highlighted one of these, but today I’ve seen such a fantastic bit of idiocy and lack of self-awareness that I had to ressurect it.
This weeks award goes to serially failed Green Party candidate Mark Keir, one of a bare handful of ‘eco-warriors’ trying (and utterly failing) to stop HS2.
For the past couple of days Keir has been whining about the beefed up security on one of the sites where his ineffectual band have turned up. Clearly, the security team have developed a strategy to deal with Keir’s band and are using football tactics of ‘man-marking’ to frustrate the protesters, rendeing them incapable of causing any problems whilst still allowing them the freedom of movement they’re entitled to have on public rights of way.
As you can see, the security team’s tactics are working, much to Keir’s obvious frustration as he gets very verbal in his videos. Today, he’s surpassed himself by shouting at the workers and security team that they’re breaking the law by ignoring Government advice about Covid-19 and gatherings! It’s complete bollocks, but that’s Keir for you. What he knows about the law could fit on the back of a stamp, the rest he just makes up!
And the ultimate stupidity here? On the video he asks “why are there so many people here?” It never crosses Keir’s tiny mind that – if it wasn’t for him and his tiny band, most of these people wouldn’t be! The only reason security teams are needed in the first place is because of idiotic and ineffectual protests like his!
Honestly, is it any wonder that the anti HS2 movement has been such an utter failure? To use an old expression, “If his brains were dynamite he wouldn’t have enough to blow his hat off”. The protesters might not be able to stop Hs2, but they are providing some more moments of pure comedy gold!
I’m returning to an old topic to take a look at the state of play with the campaign to stop HS2. The Government’s announcement that HS2 was going ahead in its entirety and the obvious commitment and enthusiasm for the project from Prime Minister Johnson has really knocked the remaining wind out of the sails of those opposed to HS2.
The sole remaining national group (StopHs2) which in reality is just two people (Joe Rukin in Kenilworth and Penny Gaines in Bournemouth) is to all intent and purpose redundant. There’s no point to a political campaign to stop HS2 anymore as it’s painfully obvious there’s no support, exactly the opposite. Many of those who’ve opposed HS2 in the past have accepted the futility of continuing their opposition. A good example is former Minister Andrea Leadsom, the MP for South Northamptonshire, who recently Tweeted a video where she said her focus now is on getting the best deals for her constituents from HS2 Ltd.
With the collapse of the political element StopHs2 have sod all to report as they’re not actually doing anything themselves. Both they and what’s left of the ‘action group’ network are redundant. Many ‘action’ group members were elderly, middle-class homeowners worried about their house prices. They’re the last people you’re going to catch traipsing around muddy fields or chaining themselves to bulldozers. A few of them are still fulminating about HS2 on social media, but there’s been a noticeable drop-off there too.
Apart from tedious tweets about every time HS2 is (or isn’t) mentioned on ‘BBC Question Time’ or sending a stream of pointless commentary and spin about someone being questioned about HS2 in a Parliamentary Ctte Penny Gaines might as well not exist. Joe Rukin isn’t much better. His only usefulness now is in throwing his weight (resist the puns, Ed) behind those protesting on the ground at one of the handful of protest camps on Phase 1 although even those appearances are becoming fewer. It can’t be long now before StopHs2 finally folds as it’s completely redundant.
Nowadays most of the real running against HS2 is made by the mixed bag of people who gather under the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ banner and occasionally attend one of the protest camps on the Phase 1 route. These can be divided into three categories.
1. The ‘hardliners’: Those who spend their time living at one of the camps for at least several days. Most are self-employed. They return home every so often to do some work to top up their money supply. They fit the image of the ‘eco-warrior’ of old. Those of us who’re old enough and remember the days of the free-festivals and the ‘convoy’ will know exactly the type of people I mean. You have to admire their commitment but they are woefully misinformed about the issues. There’s a sociological study for someone’s PhD to be had here – and it would make really interesting reading!
2. Route Dwellers: Those who live on the route who have the time and inclination to protest and will turn up when they can. The vast majority seem to be middle-class women. Many seem to be using ‘green’ issues as a fig-leaf for Nimbyism. Most will have absolutely no history of concern for environmental issues before HS2 came along.
3. The ‘good timers’: These are a mix of people who’ll turn up to an organised event, especially if there’s a celebrity name behind it like Chris Packham, or those who’d turn up to the Harvil Rd camp of a weekend to party and get pissed/stoned before going home again. Both are equally useless at stopping HS2 as they don’t actually disrupt any construction activity. There’s one such event this weekend and it’ll be very interesting to see how many actually bother turning up.
What has been obvious from social media is that people haven’t exactly been queuing up to go as this shows.
Quite what this little gathering will achieve is open to question. They’ll have their little ramble, then go away – then HS2 will move in soon afterwards to begin work. Any protesters who remain in the area will be removed as HS2 has applied for a court order which will be heard next week on the 17th March. It names two people, Joe Rukin and Matthew Bishop, plus ‘persons unknown’. The order is to restrain future trespass, effectively making the named areas no-go areas to protesters and nipping any more protests in the bud as such actions will be illegal. This injunction will form a legal template for other areas.
Few of the protesters are willing to risk criminal convictions, so the injunctions will act as a huge deterrent, leaving the hardliners out on a limb. That number’s dwindling already as one of them, a woman called Sarah Green, has been noticeably absent from events of late. The number of people who fit into this group is less than a couple of dozen. Most noticeable are serially failed Green Party Candidate Mark Keir. Alan Woodward, Matthew Bishop, Elizabeth Cairns and Sarah Snooks.
They’re all fighting a rearguard action as it is because their numbers are so small. They’re an inconvenience to HS2 rather than a credible threat. This fact is borne out by all the videos they post on their various Facbook pages or YouTube sites. I’ve never quite understood how a video showing a single protester utterly failing to stop any work at all is meant to act as an encouragement to anyone! Here’s an example from Alan ‘Budgee’ Woodward on YouTube.
A cynic might wonder how many of these videos serve any other purpose than narcissism. Even some of the protesters seem to be realising that it’s all very well providing hours of voyeuristic material for your Farcebook ‘friends’ or YouTube followers but their support very rarely materialises in the real world. It may give you a feeling of self-importance, but they don’t matter a damn when it comes to actually trying to stop Hs2. It’s the same when it comes to raising money, as this appeal shows.
Whichever metric you look at it’s clear the campaign’s collapsing. Here’s today’s numbers for their latest petition on the Government’s website.
Notice that only HS2 phase 1 features on the petition? Contrast that to this map of their 2017 petition when they had over 26,000 signatures.
The phase 2 routes are conspicuous by their absence! Rother Valley, the only phase 2 constituency that got into four figures has only got 28 signatures so far this time.
So, politically their campaign’s dead. It’s also hopeless on the ground as the numbers turning up are tiny and ineffective which only leaves the legal angle and antis have pinned their hopes on Celebrity environmentalist Chris Packham’s legal case. But there’s one rather large problem. Packham hasn’t even got permission to proceed with it. Before he does he needs to convince a judge that his argument has merit and there’s a case to answer. If he falls at that hurdle, it’s toast. Even if a judge does let him proceed it won’t stop Hs2 in the slightest as the process HS2 went through to get approval is very different to the legal argument over Heathrow. Watch this case go nowhere…
So, how did today’s token demonstration in Kenilworth go? Badly, although those who took part try and pretend otherwise! Looking at the videos from the event (and being generous) I’d say that around 250 turned up to posture and parade. They weren’t actually stopping anything of course. It was purely symbolic. The problem? Over 2.5 million folk live on phase 1 of HS2, so 250 is politically and statistically insignificant. The only message it sends is – “is that it?”
Ugh! Up at sparrowfart again getting ready to go to Birmingham. This morning I’m getting a lift to the station because I don’t want another soaking! The weather here is still what’s best described as ‘changeable’. I’m heading for the 06:44 from Halifax, so let’s see how today goes…
I’m now on my way to Manchester aboard the 06:44 which is worked by a fully-functioning CAF built Class 195. We have heating, PIS and even the wifi which I’m using to type this. They’re lovely trains when they’re like this and a real step-change from what we’re used to.
It’s a beautiful sunny morning in the Calder Valley although it’s a chilly 4 degrees according to the trains info screens. It’s a bit of a contrast to London yesterday when I basked in 14 degree sunshine!
Having crossed the Pennines and called at Littleborough we’re trundling towards Rochdale at reduced speed. Looking up from my laptop for a moment I was just in time to catch sight of a trio of deer feeding in a meadow, their white tails attracted my attention, otherwise I’d have missed them as they were standing stock-still whilst the train passed.
We’ve arrived at Rochdale where around a dozen early-bird commuters are waiting for our arrival. I was surprised to see so few, but there’s another Manchester bound service in the bay platform which seems to have a good crowd on it. No doubt it’ll be following behind shortly.
After my usual 20 minute sprint across central Manchester from Victoria to Piccadilly I’m back in the warmth aboard Cross-Country’s 08:05 to Paignton. We’ve luxury this morning as this is an 8-car formation. Even the Conductor is boasting that there’s “lots of room this morning, so make the most of it”. I assume that this must be an aberration!
There is an irony in me travelling to Birmingham to see HS2 archeological work in this fashion. This journey between two of our premier regional cities will take 1 hour 28 minutes. Voyagers – be they four or five car – are less than an ideal offering. HS2 (when it’s completed) will cut the journey time by more than half to just 40 minutes. Plus, it’ll be on a 400 metre long, modern intercity train that will make a Voyager look primitive in comparison.
We’ve just left Macclesfield. I don’t know about the year Voyager, but this front set is filling up nicely! There’s lots of business travellers aboard. In the airline seats opposite me two young professionals have their papers spread out on the meagre backseat tables and are preparing themselves for the meeting they’re heading for. Others are using their time to catch up on the budget news in copies of the ‘Metro’ but on one table ahead I can spy an unopened bottle of Prosecco with four plastic cups atop it – so there’s business mixed with pleasure on this coach as I assume these people are race-goers!
Bugger, we’re just leaving Stoke-on-Trent and the weather’s changed dramatically. We’re now blessed with thunderously grey skies and it’s chucking it down! Please let this clear before Birmingham…
We’ve just left Wolverhampton and the penny’s finally dropped as to why this train is a double set! There were queues of well-dressed people waiting for us to arrive and I suddenly realised that we call at Cheltenham – where the races are on! Now the fact the catering crew were heavily advertising what deals they have on Prosecco or gin and tonic at this hour of the day makes sense!
Apologies for the delay in updates but it’s been a very hectic few hours. Our little group got to the HS2 site at Curzon St for 10:00, donned our PPE, had a site induction, then went to visit the site of the London & Birmingham’s locomotive roundhouse, which was built in 1837. You’ll be able to read about my full visit in the future edition of RAIL magazine, but here’s a taster of how the site looks, with the remains of the turntable pit in the middle and 15 pit roads radiating from it. Everyone was surprised just how extensive the remains are, not just of the roundhouse, but other structures as well. Thankfully, the rain we’d had earlier held off and we had sunshine interspersed with cloud – which was just as well because there was a bitter wind blowing across the exposed site that made you thankful for the layers of PPE you had to wear!
The visit took several hours as we were given an extensive tour of the site of the roundhouse and the remains of the goods shed with its wagon turntables still in situ. Afterwards we were shown round the last building standing. The grade 1 listed station building and former boardroom of the London and Birmingham railway.
Afterwards I went to have a look at a modern transport innovation. The extension to the Midlands Metro tram network, the first to use dual-powered trams that don’t have to use overhead lines in the heart of the city so as to preserve the architectural heritage of the area.
Homeward bound! I left Birmingham on the 16:57 Cross-Country Voyager bound for Manchester. Unsurprisingly, it’s packed even though this is a 5-car. This time of day it acts as a fast commuter train between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, after which the vestibules empty out and some seats become free. With the advent of HS2 I’d like to see these trains withdrawn and the twice-hourly paths used for more commuter services for local passengers whilst long-distance passengers can transfer to a faster, more comfortable service from Curzon St so that we have an inter-city service worth its name.
I’m now on the final leg home. After abandoning the Voyager at Piccadilly I retraced my steps to Victoria to catch a train back across the Pennines. I’m now on a 2-car Class 195 heading for Halifax. It’s not as busy as I’d have expected but I honestly can’t tell if that’s due to people not travelling through fear of the Coronavirus or the fact some folks may have left work earlier.
There’s certainly plenty of panic about. I had chance to scan the media earlier and saw the news about the Tango’d Buffoon in the White House banning all travel (except via the UK) to the USA for a month. An already very weak stock market which has suffered many days of losses went into complete meltdown and shed over 10% of it’s remaining value, propelling it into its worst decline since 1987. The spectre of another global financial crash is starting to rear its ugly head…
I’m finally home in the warm and dry, having taken the sensible precaution of bringing a brolly with me today, although they’re often of little use up here in the Pennines due to the fact the wind rips ’em to shreds within a few minutes. Right now I’ve begun the task of loading some of the past two days worth of pictures to my Zenfolio website. If you follow this link, you’ll be able to see which galleries they’ve been added to.
Tomorrow I have a day working from home, trying to catch up on picture editing, paperwork and communications, although there might still be time for some blogging, it certainly won’t be rolling…
Some people never learn. In this case it’s the dwindling bunch of Nimbys who still oppose HS2 and think that their sense of entitlement somehow trumps the transport infrastructure needs of the UK, especially in this time of climate change, where we really do need the rail capacity to get folks out of planes and cars and onto carbon-neutral trains.
Despite everything that’s happened in the past few months, what with the Conservatives gaining a solid Parliamentary majority and half the MPs who previously opposed HS2 losing their seats since 2014 – the tiny band who fly the flag of ‘StopHs2’ haven’t learned a thing in a decade.
Short of any real plan, far less a cunning one, they’ve fallen back on the same failed tactics that have never stood them in good stead – even when there was lots more of them!
They’ve started another petition…
Because petitions have worked so well for them in the past, obviously!
Here’s a link to the latest one, which has got off to a less than stratospheric start (as I scribble this it has 867 signatures after 3 days). It’s been started by one Elizabeth Williams, whom I’m assuming is the same ‘Lizzie’ Williams who started StopHs2 until she had to hand over the reins of the groups as her behaviour was in danger of imploding it.
Why they still bother with these petitions is a total mystery as all they ever do is three things – get less and less signatures each time, prove the fact that the vast majority of folk signing them live in the 63 constituencies Hs2 passes through – and that the majority of those signing live on Phase 1! Here’s the petition map from today which (as ever) shows that – by total co-incidence – the most signatures are from constituencies on Phase 1. You can imagine my surprise….
This petition will do exactly the same as all the others. It’s doomed to failure from the start. It also shows that – despite have run several of these pointless exercises in the past – they’ve never actually twigged their limitations. Just say for the sake of argument they get 100,oo signatures (hell will freeze over first). What happens then? How will that stop HS2? It won’t. Here’s what it says on the front page of each petition.
“Considered for debate”. Debate, not vote. There is no vote. The petition is toothless. Mind you, even if there was a vote HS2 would win it hands down with a huge majority as the project has cross-party support! It’s an utterly pointless exercise.
Still, it does do one thing. It gives me a few numbers to crunch and empirical evidence of the weakness of the StopHs2 campaign. So, it will be interesting to compare it with the results of 2019, 2018 or even some of their earlier efforts.
Meanwhile, in the real world, construction of HS2 ramps up…
Don’t expect many updates on the progress (or rather lack of) of this petition. I may pop in once a month just to see how badly it’s doing, but it’s really not worth wasting more time on than that.
Sometimes, you really have to wonder. I’ve been occupied scanning old slides again this evening as Dawn’s busy on a Reiki course, so whilst I’ve been waiting for the scanner to perform its (slow) miracles I’ve been keeping an eye on social media – which is when I spotted this gem..
Seriously? F**k me, who knew that for thousands of years people have used various (mostly humane) methods to deter birds? Have the RSPB never heard of Scarecrows, or the farmers that set off shotgun cartridges on a timer – or Network Rail patrolling some of its stations like this? “Ethically dubious”?
If this is the desperate intellectual level some of our environmental groups are reduced to, you do have to start asking – what’s the point of you? What problems are you really going to solve with rubbish like this – and why on earth should we take you seriously?
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before arch HS2 critic Chris Packham piled in in his own unthinking fashion with this tweet.
Holding nature in ‘contempt’ by using birds to scare off birds? Talk about mental gymnastics! The sad thing is that knee-jerk rubbish like this only makes it easier for people to dismiss environmental groups as cranks. It gives ammunition to the opposition, nothing more, but nothing that Packham comes out with surprises me anymore. Let’s face it, a man who flies people half-way around the world on expensive bird-watching tours of the Gambia (for which he earns a pretty penny) trying to stop people in the UK from being able to travel on a carbon-neutral railway is the height of hypocrisy.
I’ll look forward to the next chapter of this madness, the RSPCA starting a campaign against people buying cats to scare away mice perhaps? For God’s sake – no-one tell them about Felix, the Huddersfield station cat!