13th June picture of the day…

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After all my rushing around the country, long days and sleepless nights it’s good to be back at home! It’s been great fun (if exhausting) but I’m enjoying the slower pace of life and home life. Admittedly, I’m still keeping busy. I’ve a mountain of pictures to edit from my various activities which has kept me glued to my computer for the majority of the day – and probably the next couple too.

Still, you can start to see the results as some of them have already appeared on my Zenfolio website. The range of pictures from my visit to Warwickshire to see the High Speed 2 railway construction and environmental mitigation work can be found in this gallery. I’ve only just begun working my way through the Railway Children’s ‘3 Peaks by Rail’ challenge but I’ve started a new gallery for them which can be found here. It should be fully stocked with pictures by Tuesday evening. Of course, there’s the usual miscellany of railway pictures that have found themselves into various galleries. They can be found by following this link.

Once the pictures are done the writing begins as I’ve several articles to sort out as well as try and fit in the usual admin, invoicing and even a trip out on Thursday – just to stop me feeling jaded. In the meantime, expect more pictures of the day accompanied by the usual ramblings depending what caught my eye (or annoyed my spleen)…

I’ll leave you now with today’s picture which is from my visit to see the HS2 construction work in Warwickshire. Here’s a view of the civil engineering in the Leam valley with route carving a gap in Cubbington wood in the background. The view is looking North-West. Sadly, the edge of the ancient wood couldn’t be avoided, but there’s a huge amount of mitigation work happening in the area and the soil from the gap has been translocated to sites along the edge of the wood. Pictures of what those translocation sites look like now are in the HS2 gallery.

Like any building site it looks like, well – a building site! High Speed 1 once looked like this but the scars on the landscape soon healed. Nature has a knack of recovering and humans will help in that healing…

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

Rolling blog. Off home…

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11:00.

I stayed in Carlisle last night as I wanted insurance in case the ‘3 Peaks’ train was late and I couldn’t make any homeward connections. Plus It meant that I got to crawl into a proper bed much earlier! Now, after a good night’s sleep and the luxury of a shower after 2 nights sleeping on a train I’m planning my route home. With it being Sunday many rail routes are closed and the dreaded word ‘bustitution’ comes into play. The West Coast Main Line Southwards. closed. So’s the Cumbrian coast line North of Maryport. The Tyne Valley and the Settle and Carlisle are still seeing trains run but the Tyne route is seeing many cancellations this morning, which doesn’t bode well. Bizarrely, Northern haven’t strengthened any services, leaving trains in the hands of 2-car units, which could be ‘cosy’…

So, I have two options if I want to avoid road transport. The first is the 11:54 to Newcastle, from where I could head down the East Coast Main Line to York and come home via Leeds, or the 1223 direct to Leeds via the scenic Settle and Carlise. But the latter’s going to be a long (but scenic) journey on a 2-car Class 158. The first train gets me home later than the second, so I’m going to hedge my bets and see of I can get a seat on the Newcastle train as I can swap to roomier mainline services at Newcastle.

Stay tuned…

12:15.

I elected for the first train. It’s busy leaving Carlisle but it’s not as rammed as I feared it might be. I’ve bagged a table and although there’s no power sockets on this 156 there are USB ports so I can keep my phone charged and the laptop’s got enough battery power left to get me to the mainline. My ‘3 Peaks’ return ticket allows me to use any route, so there’s no fear of falling foul of the ‘grippers’ (an old railway term for Ticket Inspectors, who used to use metal punches to mark or ‘grip’ your ticket).

Northern’s 156479 sits in platform 6 at Carlisle before working the 11:56 to Nunthorpe via the Tyne valley.
Useful! The Conductor on my train was fascinated by it as he know about the passes but had never actually seen one before.

Carlisle station was busy – just not with trains! Services from Scotland were terminating and transferring folks to coaches so most of the action was outside the station front. That said, there was a steady stream of engineers trains passing through from the various possession worksites. This route may get me home half an hour later but there’s plenty to see and I can relax whilst also doing a ‘recce’ for some future projects. My fellow passengers are a mix of families, walkers and also foreign tourists – who’re making a welcome return after their pandemic absence. Sat behind me is a group of middle-aged German men, although I’ve no idea where they’re heading.

After the exertions of the past few days it’s nice to be able to relax and not be ‘on call’ to leap up taking pictures. Instead I can sit, enjoy the scenery and watch the weather which is dry, but cool and windy. ‘Flaming June’ it most certainly isn’t!

13:15.

We’re well on the way to Newcastle now as we’ve just left Riding Mill which is East of Hexham. The train’s full and standing, despite the numbers that left us at Hexham as even more folk joined us.

13:20.

We’re on the outskirts of Newcastle after what’s been a lovely journey. There’s some lovely stations along this line that reflect the ownership of the old North Eastern Railway as they still posess the company’s distinctive cast-iron footbridges or signalboxes.

14:55.

After a very brief pitstop at the magnificent Centurian Bar on Newcastle station so that I could download pictures from yesterday and get them over to the Railway Children for use on social media. Now I’m standing up on a rammed LNER Aberdeen-Kings Cross service as far as York.

15:20.

It was great to see York station so lively. The tourists who made the place so vibrant have returned in droves. The only downside is it made towing my wheelie bag lash-up more difficult with their being so many people to weave between. Now I’m sat on a 3-car Class 195 working a York – Blackpool North service. This is the final leg of today’s trip as it’ll carry me all the way to Halifax, so now I can relax.

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

Rolling blog. 3 Peaks by rail, day 3…

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09:00.

Well that didn’t exactly go to plan! In contrast to last year when our train arrived late, we were 45 minutes early this morning! This would have been ideal in normal circumstances but ‘normal’ isn’t a word you associate with ‘3 peaks by rail’ – but challenge certainly is!

The challenge this year was the weather which is awful. We arrived in driving rain with the trees around the railway station looking like they were being hit by a tornado. The buses that were due to take us to Ben Nevis weren’t arriving until 04:00 so people had plenty of time to dig out and slip into their wet weather gear – all of it!

Global Challenge, the event guides and safety team had been poring over the forecasts and decided that there was no way teams were going to be able to reach the summit safely, so a plan B was hatched. When the buses disgorged us all at the mountain scratch teams of 12 people escorted by a guide would be taken onto the mountain and allowed to ascend as far as Red Burn, where they’d be turned back.

Conditions at the base were so bad we decided there was no point in setting up our usual banners and finish line as we’d more than likely see them blown away before people came back. Instead, we’d brought the headboards off the train for teams to pose with on their return. At least the weight of them might stop people being blown away! Whilst we waited we sheltered from the storm in a bus for a few hours and kept an eye out for people who’d turned back due to injuries or the conditions.

When we had a bus full we took them back to Fort William just after 07:00 when the town’s cafe’s had begun to open. Having dropped off the first batch we returned with coffee’s only to find the next bus was already full of teams off the mountain which put the plans of Adam (the video cameraman) and I to get shots of people with the headboards. It wouldn’t have been fair to have them hang around as they were too tired and wet.

So, here we are back in Fort Bill, sheltering in cafe’s or Wetherspoons, waiting until this afternoon when the train arrives back at the station. People’s morale’s improving now they’re in the warm and dry and out of the wind. Some are discussing their ascent and descent with one word being repeated – ‘grim’…

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

Rolling blog. 3 Peaks by rail – day 2…

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05:30.

Good morning folks!

I spent a night in the sidings at Holyhead, which is where the train was stabled. We returned to Bangor at 04:30 this morning to pick up the weary climbers who ticked off Mount Snowdon in dry but gusty conditions whilst the traincrew had cleaned the train, ate and managed a couple of hours sleep.

All the teams made it back in time for the train bar two people who’d picked up injuries. They’re being looked after by a member of staff who’ll escort them (by train) to Ravenglass where they’ll rejoin us so that they can be reunited with their gear. Right now everyone else (bar the traincrew) are grabbing some sleep before their next exertions. It’s a beautiful morning on the North Wales coast, which makes a pleasant change from some of the previous trips. Not that many people will be appreciating the view as sleep, not sightseeing is the main priority now!

A well earned rest…

06:15.

Whilst the teams sleep the traincrew are busy. Because this coaching set doesn’t have kitchen cars we can’t serve the same standard of food as in past years when Chef Ian Joesbury and his team would have been busy cooking hundreds of eggs to go with an English breakfast. Instead we have pots of porridge laid out ready to go. Other crew members have been kept busy assembling and packing over 200 sandwiches for people to take with them onto Scafell. Once the main batch is stowed away all surfaces and utensils are meticulously cleaned before the gluten-free sandwiches for coeliacs are prepared. It’s a slick operation.

08:00.

The train’s sprung back to life. Some folk have managed to grab a little sleep before the crew began to serve breakfast. First course was coffee and a croissant followed by porridge. The train stopped at Preaton where 200 bacon or veggie sausage rolls (donated by Avanti) were loaded aboard. They were then microwaved in the two buffet cars before being distributed throughout the train.

18:00.

Apologies for the gap but phone reception is poor to non-existent where we’ve been today. Having arrived at Ravenglass the teams swapped trains for a trip on the ‘Lal Ratty’ – the narrow gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale railway to Dalegarth. From there we all walked up over Eskdale Moor for the 5 mile journey past Burnmoor Tarn to Wasdlae and the start of the ascent of Scafell. The weather’s been sunny but extremely windy with some very heavy gusts. Sadly, the top of Scafell Pike was covered in cloud but it didn’t stop the teams.

Afterwards, minibuses took us all back to Ravenglass, where we are now. An evening meal of jacket potatoes or rice with chili was supplied by the R&ER cafe. Now most people are having a drink at the pub on Ravenglass station before the train arrives at 19:30 to take us North. I’ll blog more when I’m on the train, right now I’ll leave you with a picture of Scafell taken from Wasdale just before we left.

22:15.

We’re now over the Scottish border and most people on the train have crashed out. Many of them are exhausted after their exhertions. I’d hoped to have blogged about the journey but I got roped in to helping steward on board the train. Added to my other duties it left no time for keyboard-bashing. It’s a shame as we had a stunning run along the Cumbrian coast line in picture perfect weather – especially as the wind had whipped up the waves to send them crashing along the beaches. Instead, I’m sat in a darkened coach with bodies all around me as I enjoy a glass of wine and the dying light whilst I charge up various devices ready for tomorrow – which might present challenges of a different kind. The weather forecast means it’s extremely unlikely the teams will be able to summit Ben Nevis. High winds and rain make that too dangerous and people’s safety is paramount. But, who knows? The weather’s capricious and a decision will be made in the morning, which in our case will be around 03:00. Stay tuned…

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

Rolling blog. And so it begins – 3 Peaks by Rail…

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09:30.

After a stressful morning I’m now sat on the train from Leeds to London for the first event of the day – the annual Siemens press lunch. I’m looking forward to meeting friends and colleagues plus the new personnel who’ve taken over roles at Siemens since the start of the pandemic. It’s a lovely day for travelling as the sun’s shining, the trains are running well and I can start to unwind. The day’s not going to be completely relaxed of course. After the lunch I’ve got to hot-foot it up to Crewe to join the other volunteers and staff of the Railway Children charity who’ll be preparing the train that we’ll be living on for the next few days – plus all the fundraising teams who’ll be arriving to take part and climb all 3 Peaks. I’ve also a rather large bag full of kit to tow around as you never know what weather you’ll encounter on this adventure so if you’re sensible you come prepared.

I’ll blog throughout the day as I can, so feel free to keep popping back to see what I get up to…

09:55.

The destressing continues. The mobile office is up and running, there’s HS2 pictures to edit, I’ve a fresh coffee from the buffet and I’m listening to The Waterboys through my earphones…

16:30.

Apologies for the interlude but it’s been a busy few hours. The Siemens press lunch was an enjoyable and informative event. We had chance to chat over drinks at the start, then sat down for lunch. Members of the media were allocated specific seats but Siemens staff rotated after each course which meant we had the opportunity to talk to a wide range of people, including CEO William Wilson and Sambit Banerjee, Director of Rolling stock.

Siemens CEO Will Wilson briefs the media on what the company’s been doing over the last year and plans for the future.
It beats sandwiches!

Sadly,I had to leave early to ensure I was on time for my next event. I’m now speeding North on an Avanti Voyager in order to meet up with the Railway Children staff at Crewe ready for the big adventure – 3 Peaks by rail 2022.

23:35.

Well, that’s been a change of scenery! I arrived at Crewe in plenty of time to slip into my role as official photographer for the Railway Children’s 3 Peaks by Rail. This is my 5th year in a row and to be honest It’s just like meeting up with family. It’s not just the staff and volunteers either, there’s always familiar railway faces amongst the teams too. Here’s everyone all together just before we set off from Crewe. We were joined by the Railway Children’s founder, David Maidment who can be seem bottom left.

First things first. As soon as the teams are settled in on the train they’re fed. The food is all donated by various suppliers who help support the charity and prepared on board.
On arrival at Bangor teams are provided with snacks by the on-board team to ensure their energy levels are maintained. It’s a slick operation. We only have 6 minutes to unload everyone and get the train dispatched.
After dropping the teams off at Bangor the train heads for Holyhead where the locomotives can run-round, the train can be cleaned and the on-board staff have the chance to eat and get some rest before we head back to Bangor to pick up the teams at 04:00. Here’s 47501 and 47593 being passed by the Welsh Assembly train (aka ‘Gerald’) which is made up of ex-LNER Mk4 coaches and a Class 67 loocomotive. It’ll set back into the stabling point behind the signalbox to be serviced overnight.

Right, I’m going to call it a day as we’re now sat in the carriage sidings for the night. I’ll resume blogging in a few hours time – but that’ll be another day. Day 2 in fact…

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

Rolling blog. High Speed 2 and ecology…

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06:45.

I’m back on the rails for the rest of the week, travelling across a large chunk of the UK (as you’ll see). Today I’m off to have a look at some of the High Speed 2 construction and mitigation work around Cubbington in Warwickshire.

Thankfully, the weather’s better where I’m going than where I’m coming from. The Calder valley’s a wet and gloomy place this morning as the area’s trapped beneath a low layer of heavy grey cloud that’s shrouding the valley tops. My first train of the day’s Northern’s 06:23 from Sowerby Bridge which is worked by a pair of 2-car Class 195s. I’m taking it as far as Manchester. This should be a Chester service but it’s been chopped back to Victoria for some unknown reason.

08:00.

On arrival at Manchester I made the customary ‘mad dash’ across the city centre from Victoria to Piccadilly on foot. It took me 15 minutes which meant I was in plenty of time to get an earlier train than originally planned. I’m now ensconced on Cross-Country’s 07:27 to Bournemouth. Today the train’s made up of consecutively numbered, 4-car Class 220s (020 and 021 for the number-crunchers amongst you). Despite the earliness of the hour the front unit is very busy with few spare seats after we’d departed Stockport. Thankfully, the cloud levels are lifting and getting thinner the further South I go.

220020 ready to head the 07:27 from Manchester Piccadilly to Bournemouth.

09:20.

My train was packed all the way to Birmingham New St where the vast majority of travellers decamped only to be replaced by a smaller cohort for the continuation of the journey. Some were only travelling as far as Birmingham International and a few more for Coventry. My stop’s in another 20 mins so I’ll be interested to see how busy we are then.

11:40.

Out exploring the route of HS2…

Looking North to Cubbington wood…

19:00.

Apologies for the break in blogging but I’ve spent most of the day exploring the HS2 route and mitigations sites in the company of local farmer Penny McGregor. Penny’s been kind enough to show me around before and having her local knowledge and passion for the environment (tempered with pragmatism) has been invaluable. We’ve pootled around several sites in her little electric car so that I can see and record the changes that have taken place since I was last here in February.Then the woods and ancient woodland translocation sites were dormant. Now they’ve burst into life and are even past their best as many plants (such as Campions) have gone to seed. Even so, it’s easy to see the opponents of HS2 who claim building the railway has created a barren wasteland are talking out of a fundamental orifice. Yes, of course the trace of HS2 looks like a building site – that’s because it is! The margins however, can be very different depending on the age of the planting. Plus, the ancient woodland soil translocation sites are throwing up surprises as seeds that have lain dormant for years under the tree canopy have now been stirred up and have access to light…

I’ll add a selection of pictures shortly. Right now I’m making my way back North. Having bid farewell to Penny after such an interesting day I caught Cross-Country’s 17:15 to Manchester Piccadilly as far as busy Birmingham New St where I swapped sets to catch the 18:03 to Edinburgh as far as Leeds. Both trains afforded me some great views of HS2 construction – especially around Birmingham. Forget the media froth and protesters howls – HS2 is happening! The amount of work to be seen around Curzon St and Washwood Heath is very, very impressive. I hope to return soon to cover some of it.

23:00.

Time to bring this blog to an end. I’ve been at home for the past few hours, preparing for the next 4 days of fun and travels. I’m in London tomorrow morning ready for a press lunch that’s been on hold for several years due to the pandemic. It’ll be a lovely opportunity to catch up with old and new faces from our hots – Siemens – as well as other colleagues from the rail press. As soon as the lunch finishes I have to hot-foot it up to Crewe to join the annual ‘3 peaks by rail’ charity fundraiser in aid of the Railway Children charity. I’ve been a volunteer on this event since 2017. It’s exhausting but bags of fun. So, expect a varied bunch of rolling blogs over the next few days.

But for now I’ll leave you with a picture of this little critter that Penny and I saw in a field next to HS2 earlier today. It’s a silver studded blue butterfly.

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

And another thing…

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I’ve refrained from blogging much this month as I’ve been busy with other things but today I couldn’t resist returning to comment on a subject I’ve refrained from hardly commenting on at all recently. Politics.

But my spleen needs venting after watching the utter shit-show that passes for a Government nowadays and the ‘Prime Mendacitor’ surviving a no-confidence vote – amongst other things…

To be honest, when the news of the vote broke I suspected Johnson would win for a couple of reasons. One is – who is there with any honesty or intelligence within the Conservative front benches to replace him. Admittedly, that won’t be a question the Tory party will be asking because if they cared about those qualities they’d have never elected a pathological liar as leader in the first place! No, the question they’ll have asked themselves is “who could win us the next election”? Their problem is that it’s unlikely the electorate will fall for the same trick twice and Johnson has ensured that there’s no likely candidates around by appointing a bunch of people who no-one else would ever give a job to – and who owe him their positions. I mean, ‘Mad Nad’ Dorries? She shouldn’t be trusted with a supermarket check-out! Liz Truss? Really? The only one who was seen as a likely lad was Rishi Sunak but his star set when all the stuff came out about his American Green card and his his very wealthy wife’s tax and residence status. The odious and perma-smirking Priti Patel? The grandees would never go for her and I doubt many Tory members would too…

The Tories are in a fix of their own making. Some have a spine and some (albeit often deeply buried) scruples which is why the number voting against Johnson was so large. The likelihood now is that the party will continue to implode as it’s clear Johnson only has one policy, which is to hang on to No 10 at all costs. His acolytes, sorry – Cabinet – will do whatever they can to facilitate that so they can stay in office too.

Expect a series of policy volte faces (see HS2, more of which later), mad policy announcements and more dead cats than a pet cemetery. But it’s clear ordinary voters are starting to see the emperor has no clothes and treats the majority of them with contempt. On the 23rd June we have 2 by-elections. One in the ‘red wall’ seat of Wakefield and the other in the safe Tory seat of Tiverton and Honiton.

Polls suggest Labour will win back Wakefield with a large majority which is going to make other ‘red wall’ Tory MPs very nervous. The nerves could become even more frayed if the Lib-Dems pull off another Amersham and win Tiverton. Johnson is not out of the woods by a very long chalk.

Meanwhile, the damage caused to the economy by the Brexitshambles is becoming more and more obvious now they can’t hide the truth by blaming it on Covid. Even some of the Brexit cheerleaders in the media (The Daily Express for example) are sensing that they can only pull the wool over their dwindling number of readers for so long.

Sadly, the rot in the Tory party (wholesale infiltration of local constituency association by former UKIP members) that led to so many out of touch ideologues getting selected and elected was mirrored by the Labour party being similarly damaged by Corbynistas. Corbyn may be gone but the damage he’s done hasn’t. There’s some good people in the Parliamentary party but there’s not enough of them and Keir Starmer is hardly of the Tony Blair mould when it comes to charisma. We as a nation are not well served by our main political parties.

I said I’d come back to HS2 and the news of the dropping of the £3bn Golborne link which was designed to free up capacity on the very congested two-track section of the West Coast Main Line from Weaver Junction (North of Crewe) to a point just South of Wigan, bypassing the busy rail junction of Warrington. The HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson quietly slipped out the news just 30 minutes before Johnson’s no-confidence vote. That the cut was planned had been leaked a few weeks previously by Sir Ian Brady, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West and (it just so happens), Chair of the 1922 Committee, which oversees votes of no-confidence and who’s constituency the Golborne link would have passed through! What an amazing co-incidence!

The Golborne link was crucial to improving Anglo-Scottish train times and services as it would have helped make HS2 competitive on what’s Europe’s busiest internal air route. That from The Scottish central belt to London and the South-East. So, now – instead of a firm plan that was due to be passed by Parliament this year, we’ve a series of vague promises to “look again at alternatives”. in line with suggestions in Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review. What this naked bit of political pork-barreling will do is set back that section of high-speed line by years – IF it ever happens. It makes a mockery of the Government’s supposed commitment to carbon-reduction. Getting air passengers off those short-haul planes and onto trains would be a huge reduction in the worst kind of carbon emissions.

IF (and it’s a huge if) the Government did actually come up with a plan to move the connection between the WCML and HS2 further North to (say) just South of Preston, that would be better than the Golborne link as it would speed trains up even more and relieve more WCML. But Johnson (and his Transport Minister, Grant Shapps) have proved his Government simply can’t be trusted.

I suspect we’re going to see further rowing back on promises made in the (dis)integrated rail plan as this line was going to be funded from the HS2 budget but any revised route would be expected to come out of the supposed £96bn IRP pot.

So much for ‘leveling up’ eh? I only hope Northern voters see through this charade but I’m not holding my breath. Even some Labour MPs are welcoming another Tory cut – hence this nonsense from the Labour MP for Warrington North, Charlotte Nicols, who either doesn’t understand what the Golborne link was, or does but has played Nimby politics as the route passed through her constituency too. It’s worth of the ‘Green’ party in it’s hypocrisy, ‘supporting’ HS2 in principle, but welcoming cutting it in practice.

Reaction to Nicols Tweet wasn’t what she was expecting! Many people replied, pointing out what the MP was seemingly deliberately misunderstand and misleading. The Golborne link “not part of the line”? Oh, please!

I’ve no doubt this saga will continue…

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

4th June picture of the day…

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Sorry for the lack of blogging recently but life has got in the way and my attention’s had to go into far more important things. You might find things are a bit intermittent until Thursday when I join the Railway Children’s annual ‘3 Peaks by Rail’ event as their photographer. Then I’ll try do some rolling blogging and give a flavour of what a fantastic (if ever so slightly crazy) the three day event it is. In the meantime what I will do is post a daily picture so you at least have something to look at!

Today’s pictures a little different. Our front garden is in full bloom at the moment which means its (literally) a hive of activity as it’s full of all sorts of different types of bees. Whilst sitting outside having an evening beer I decided to put my micro lens on the camera and photograph some of the little critters. It ain’t easy – they don’t hang around for long. One day I’ll take this as a serious project, but here’s what I managed to capture in-between sips!

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

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Thank you!

1st June picture of the day…

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After all my travels over the last week I’ve spent the past few days based nowhere but home, which has been a pleasant change as I needed time to relax and catch up on editing and collating all the pictures I’ve taken over the past month which runs into several thousand images. I’ve now uploaded the vast majority of the edited ones onto my Zenfolio website. If you follow this link it’ll show you which galleries they’ve been added to. Several have already made it into magazines, including the cover of RAIL magazine and the first edition of Inside Track mag to be produced under the Editorship of an old friend and former RAIL colleague – Richard Clinnick.

Of course, my time hasn’t all been work and no play. Dawn and I both met up with a former Community Rail Network friend for drinks yesterday in the excellent Sportsman pub in Huddersfield where we were joined by several other CRN stalwarts for a very convivial evening over a few beers.

Today’s been far quieter as the pair of us have been slaving away at home – although I did manage to nip out for a long walk down to Sowerby Bridge to pick up a bit of shopping and enjoy the sunshine. Tomorrow we’re back on the social circuit as we’ll be joining many other community rail folks at a Queen’s Jubilee soiree held by the friends of Mytholmroyd station.

Now it’s June and I’ve a new free sales quota I’ve relaunched selling off original old rail slides on eBay. There’s over 500 from the UK, India and Ireland to choose from with bids starting at £1.99. You can find what’s for sale by following this link.

OK, it’s picture of the day time – and I’ve loads of new ones to choose from. The question is – what should it be? How about this one of the restored Folkstone harbour railway station which has become a stylish tourist location with lots of bars and cafes?

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

The HS2 ‘rebellion’ ends in a whimper…

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Over the weekend the final act in the hopeless anti HS2 ‘rebellion’ (and I use that word very loosely indeed) came to a shambolic end when the last few squatters and protesters were evicted from their refugee camps in Staffordshire. The camps had been dying a slow death over the past three weeks, but the final act came quickly when bailiffs and security moved in and the few remaining protesters were dispersed. The farce was announced on the defunct Bluebell camps Facebook page thus:

Forget the attempt to play the homeless sympathy card. Most of these people do have real homes to go to – either back to their parents, or to the vans and caravans some of them lived in. They squatted and occupied this land, it’s not their home. In fact, the last squatters were damaging someone’s farmland as their own pictures show.

There’s now not a single camp left anywhere on the HS2 route. All that is left is two isolated protesters down tunnels at the Cash’s Pit site (aka Bluebell wood). Both are now in breach of High Court injunctions. It’s only a matter of time until they either give up or are dug out (having achieved the sum total of zilch). They will not be passing go or collecting £200 either. There’s only once place they’re likely to end up…

To make matters worse for the protesters the High Court in Birmingham spent 2 days (Thursday and Friday) hearing evidence for HS2 Ltd’s route wide injunction. Judgement has been reserved and is expected to be announced in several weeks time. Despite the scenes of bravado from the handful of protesters outside, it’s clear from the evidence offered by them that many hadn’t got a clue what was really going on. You can find all the legal documentation here – including witness statements and claims from the few protesters who asked to have their names removed from the injunction. In fact, only 2 of the 58 names were removed. Number 47 (Tom Dalton) and Number 56 (Libby Farbrother). Both will have had to sign legal undertakings not to interfere with HS2 property ever again. Other protesters had asked for their names to be removed as they were no longer involved in trying to stop HS2, having drifted away from the campaign over the past months and years. After the shenanigans from the protesters in Court, expect a revised list of names, with more added! The High Court is not to be treated with contempt but the protesters have a habit of doing so, as well as displaying weapons-grade misunderstanding and misinformation of law – which doesn’t endear them to the legal profession. I suspect the judgement (when it appears) is going to make interesting reading.

For reference, here’s a copy of the wording of one of the actual undertakings the defendants are asked to sign in order to have their names removed. The wording makes it clear that it does NOT bar them from public rights of way or the highway. It merely prohibits certain actions. But of course, the truth doesn’t fit the protesters narrative…

Another document deals with the protesters accusations of ‘wildlife crimes’ and completely skewers them. Firstly, it says;

I understand from the Claimants’ legal representatives that a number of allegations were made in Court today by named defendants and other individuals that the First Claimant has been prosecuted / fined for “wildlife crimes”.

As the protesters haven’t defined what a wildlife crime the document helpfully says this:

“The Crown Prosecution Service says: “Wildlife crime can be defined as any action which contravenes current legislation governing the protection of wild animals and plants.”

Then comes the killer…

“I confirm that the First Claimant has never been prosecuted (whether by the police or any other relevant regulatory or other body such as the Environment Agency or Natural England) for a Wildlife Crime. It follows, but again I confirm for completeness, that the First Claimant has never been fined in relation to the commission of a Wildlife Crime”.

In the light of such simple legal facts, you can imagine what weight the Judge will be giving to the protesters ‘evidence’….

The hundreds and hundreds of evidence bundles made for voluminous and often tedious reading – especially the overlong and bombastic nonsense from Mark Keir. But there were a few interesting nuggets in some of it (such as the above) including statements from former StopHs2 ‘Campaign Manager’ Joe Rukin, who was forced to admit what we’ve all known for quite some time. StopHS2 is dead. It died several years ago.

Rukin’s evidence is hidden away in document No 50. Bundle D – Volume A. All 177 pages of it! Here’s a link just in case you’re suffering from insomnia at any time! The relevant parts of Rukin’s confession is reproduced here.

Rukin goes on to say…

And, finally…

So there we have it. “StopHs2 has had no part in organising or coordinating any campaigning activity for the last two years.” They’ve joined all the other anti HS2 groups like the HS2 Action Alliance, AGAHST and dozens of local (in)action groups up and down the route that folded many years before.

There’s now no campaign to stop HS2 – just the remains of a rag-bag of baseless protesters, many of whom are now scattered to the four winds or gone to join other lost causes (two of the names on the injunction ‘Digger Down’ and Larch Maxey are now at an oil protest site in Surrey). It really is all over bar the moaning now. And, if the High Court grants HS2 Ltd their injunction (which is very likely, although their may be amendments), there won’t be any more camps either. No doubt their might be the odd protest and banner-waving here and there, but that’s meaningless. The only way HS2 was ever going to be stopped was by what never existed from day one – major political opposition to the project. The protests have never been anything more than a very expensive circus.

UPDATE: 25th June.

After 47 days of attracting hardly any publicity the tunnellers gave up and slinked off, claiming a ‘victory’ despite not having achieved a single thing other than being in contempt of court and facing jail time. This brings an end to the HS2 ‘rebellion’. There’s not a single camp left along the entire route of HS2, nor is there likely to be another as most of the tiny bunch of people who were involved have scattered to the four winds…

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!

UPDATE: 19th June.

Today what’s left of the protesters are boasting that the two in the tunnels have been underground now for 40 days. Their problem is, no-one cares! The media lost interest weeks ago and so did most of their social media followers. Now all the camps have gone, so’s much of their attention.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the HS2 Phase 2B Hybrid Bill will fly through its second reading in Parliament. There’ll be no protests, because there’s no-one left to organise any and little interest if they did. Stop Hs2 is dead.