HS2 Construction Under the Spotlight: Drone Footage Reveals Environmental Impact
Recent drone footage has provided a revealing look at the High-Speed Rail 2 (HS2) project, shedding light on the extensive environmental impact of the railway construction.
With a decision looming on the northern leg of HS2, the footage underscores the challenges and controversies surrounding this massive infrastructure project.
HS2: A Project Marred by Delays and Budget Overruns
Originally scheduled for completion by 2026, the HS2 project has faced significant delays, pushing its estimated completion date to 2029-2033.
Moreover, the budget has ballooned from £37.5 billion to a staggering £98 billion. These delays and cost overruns have sparked concerns among government officials, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Northern Leg Faces Scrutiny: A ‘Gross Act of Vandalism’
Amid rising costs, there is growing speculation that the northern leg of HS2 may be scrapped. Former Chancellor George Osborne labeled such a move as a “gross act of vandalism” and an “act of economic self-harm.”
The decision, set to be made this week, has generated heated debate over the project’s future.
Warning from Tory Grandee: Protecting Britain’s Reputation
In an article for The Times, former Chancellor George Osborne, along with Tory grandee Lord Heseltine, cautioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the potential consequences of axing the northern leg of HS2.
They emphasized that governments are remembered for their construction and creation, not for canceling vital projects.
Drone Survey Reveals Ongoing Construction Sites
The drone footage captured along the entire HS2 route reveals that many significant points are still in the early stages of construction.
From earthworks and concrete mixers to haul roads, the extent of the project’s impact on the countryside is evident.
Cost Overruns and Changes: Impact on Budget
According to Phil Marsh, with 50 years of experience in railway administration, the costs of HS2 have escalated due to frequent specification changes.
Contractors, it is alleged, have capitalized on alterations by adding significant costs to the project.
Mission Critical Point: HS2’s Impact on West Coast Main Line
One crucial area highlighted in the drone footage is where HS2 intersects with the West Coast Main Line.
Any disruption here could result in substantial costs. Although it appears fine, the tracks still need to be laid in this section.
Chiltern Tunnel and Wendover Tunnel: Incomplete Sections
The Chiltern Tunnel ends near Chesham and High Wycombe, with high-speed trains set to emerge above ground before entering the 0.9-mile Wendover Tunnel.
However, the tunnel’s end hasn’t been cut through yet, leaving a massive wall of earth. Tunnel-boring machines are still at work.
Ancient Woodland and Slurry Treatment: Environmental Concerns
One mile beneath ancient woodland, a tunnel was completed in November of the previous year.
However, ongoing work includes handling 500,000 tons of mudstone at an on-site slurry treatment plant. This phase involves finalizing railway communications, drainage, and signaling systems.
The Longest Tunnel: Work in Progress
The HS2 project includes a tunnel spanning ten miles, making it one of the longest of the 500 tunnels planned.
Although significant progress has been made, it remains three-quarters finished.
Denham: An Enormous Building Site
The Denham area is currently a massive building site, complete with a 1,000-car parking lot and a concrete factory for mixing concrete and crafting tunnel supports.
The drone footage offers a comprehensive view of the challenges and progress of the HS2 project, as well as the environmental impact on England’s countryside.