HS2 has released some photos of their construction sites, including several from the London area.

HS2 is building new stations at Euston and Old Oak Common, plus a marshalling yard at nearby Willesden, and has a large tunnel portal that will dive under the Chilterns next to the M25.

Old Oak Common (from a drone video clip)

The cleared site for the future Old Oak Common station linking HS2, mainline rail and the Elizabeth line. Looks very different from the last time I was there.

Euston Station

Clearing the site to start digging down to build the station box for the additional platforms and approach tunnels.

Willesden site

This is where they will assemble the tunnel rings for the tunnel to Euston – when construction is completed, the site will be turned into homes, with some of the heating supplied from the tunnels underneath.

Chiltern portal

This gives the tunnel boring machines the depth to start drilling down under the Chilterns. When completed, the whole area will be landscaped into a nature reserve.

All photos by HS2

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38 comments
  1. Peter Feltham says:

    Not one single Tunnel Boring Machine will be made in the UK.Like Crossrail,Super Sewer,HS1 etc,etc all the TBMs will be built abroad,in the EU.When I was a little boy at school I was repeatedly told that Britain was a great engineering country.NOT TRUE.

  2. Peter Storey says:

    Excellent progress. The preparatory work is nearing completion with the construction work due to start in the coming months.
    As can be seen with HS1, once construction is finished the work areas are landscaped and little trace is left of the sites within a year or so.
    Once the High Speed Trains begin running, on section 1 to start with, the public will soon see why this project is such a major step forward in British railway transport.

  3. Alan O'Connor says:

    As a professional transport planner, I regard the whole HS2 project as a waste of a huge amount of public money (well over £100 Billion).
    It is an obsolete system, has negligible economic return, saves little or no travel time, is environmentally destructive and costs are obscured by over 200 non disclosure agreements.
    The huge cost involved could be better used for other, more beneficial purposes, including improving transport systems across the Midlands and North of England. HS2 should be abandoned.

    • John Bispham says:

      Are you sure you’re a transport planner. The object of the exercise is not so much a reduction in time travel but to increase capacity. HS2 will allow more local, slower, trains to use the east and west coast lines. If they travel slower more trains can travel on the same track. Furthermore, you should also know, HS2 will allow for a huge increase in frieght being carried on the aforementioned lines.

    • Duncan Martin says:

      The primary purpose of HST2 is remove Intercity traffic from Victorian infrastructure which was never designed for it. By removing these trains from the Rugby / Coventry / Birmingham corridor it will allow them to have a proper Metro service, for example.

      Of course Phase 1 was designed for too high a speed -400km/hrs was bonkers and if a sensible speed had been chosen (certainly no more than 300km/hr) then a less damaging route could have been chosen following the existing transport corridor. But it’s too late to argue about that.

    • David Wall says:

      Well said

    • mike durell says:

      Quite agree!!!

  4. Barbara Cooper says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Alan O’Connor. Peter Storey really is living in a different world . To say that within a year or so you won’t even see the devastation this white elephant has caused to our environment is ridiculous . This project is so far behind schedule it will be at least twenty years before it’s finished. No one will be able to afford to travel on it , already the promised 36 trains per hour carrying 1,000 people per train has been reduced to 8 . This is a project with so many piggies noses in the trough no wonder it’s going to cost over £100 billion. Parliament were totally misled regarding the need for this project and the 200 NDA’s say it all.

    • ianvisits says:

      HS2 was never planned to be a 36 tph service (that’s a train every 100 seconds, an impossible achievement for a long distance service), and is being built to support 18 tph service at launch with scope for possible upgrades later.

    • Debz says:

      The hs2 was passed through Parliament in Gordon brown time 2009, did anyone know about this, the answer is no. It was passed so speedily (ignore the pun haha) the environment is in shock. The 500 year old trees gone. Stonehendge now in trouble a national treasure part of our heritage. Hs2 will cost between £160-£240 to travel from London to nancherster. Ask yourself could you afford to travel, why not utilised all the victoriana line that is still there and never been dismantled. STOP HS2 FROM RUINING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND RUINING THE ANIMALS HOMES TAKING ENDANGERED SPECIES AWAY FROM THEIR HABITAT.

    • Peter Armand says:

      This is just the start High speed lines to the North and Scotland even a tunnel to Northern Ireland will make travelling between key cities quicker.The future is Rail!

    • mike durell says:

      Spot on!!

  5. James says:

    What premium will be charged for using the ‘high speed’ lines? Train journeys are already widely thought to be too expensive, how much more would will intercity journeys cost?
    Has there been any official announcement of pricing? Once operational, will HS2 be expected to repay construction costs debt or just cover running costs?

    • ianvisits says:

      It’s been repeatedly stated that there won’t be a fares premium to travel on HS2.

    • Yindee says:

      There won’t be a premium for travelling on HS2, indeed journeys are expected to be cheaper because of it. The only reason train tickets on the WCML are so expensive is that the line is overcrowded and so they have to price tickets to match demand so that trains don’t get too full. With the huge amount of extra capacity HS2 will unlock, ticket prices can be significantly reduced because TOCs will no longer have to actively price people off trains.

    • david johnson says:

      You won’t have a choice of “HS2 or intercity” as HS2 is the Intercity service. The choice will be train (which will happen to be HS2) stopper services or walk/cycle/fly/drive/coach.

  6. S.C. CLAYTON says:

    I am sick and tired of the way this country wastes money, destroys the countryside for so little gain. Stop this madness and fight the virus.

    The government claims to want green issues addressed but this shows the hypocrisy

    • Peter Armand says:

      We lag behind because of the idiot protesters.France has built lots of new lines no protest. Even third world countries are building brand new lines twice the mileage of HS2. To see idiotic people preventing removal of 300old oak tree slowly dying is crazy. How many of these protesters ever visited this tree or new of its whereabouts?

    • mike durell says:

      Exactly. Couldn’t agree more -criminal waste of money and cause of devastation even before the present situation, and 1000 times more now !

  7. Joseph Nicholas says:

    I would take the statement (made by whom?) that there won’t be a premium to travel on HS2 with a large bucket of salt. I don’t think there’s a high-speed railway anywhere in the world that doesn’t charge more than the fares for conventional rail travel — so the question for HS2 is how much more will be charged? The costs will have to be defrayed somehow; is the government intending to underwrite them all, as they balloon uncontrollably past the £100billion mark (as they will)?

    I would also say to the person claiming that the 300-year-old oak tree on a Warwickshire farm is “slowly dying” that he is underinformed about trees and their biology. Old trees hollow out their trunks as they age as a matter of course; ditto dropping some of their branches as they age. And even when they’re dead, they’re still a habitat for other species: fungi, invertebrates, lichens. Destroy the tree, and that biodiversity is destroyed as well.

  8. Alan Brown says:

    we worked on the first TBM in the UK in the Selby coal field Yorkshire the company building the channel tunnel came to look at it when they we in the planning stages.

  9. Glen Williams says:

    Are we seriously going to get this whole anti-HS2/pro-HS2 argument, every single time Ian even mentions the subject?

    We should turn it into a NYE drinking game, every time someone replies slagging someone else off, drink a shot! If they come up with a dubious fact that is instantly debunked, drink two shots!

  10. Chris. Hawkesworth. says:

    My bet is that all the Anti’s live south of Birmingham. Those of us up in Leeds are fed up of anaverage rail speeds of 48mph and trains delayed or following slow freight.
    There is an Oz joke about a planes full of pomms arriving from the UK in Oz. “The whining carries on when the engines have stopped”. Why not pack in the whiling and become positive. We in the North cannot wait for HS2 and with it to trigger the release of other capacity. Mind.. Before it is too late both Manchester and Leeds should be through stations for HS2 and 3 and not termini.

    • Harry Golightly says:

      And your ‘bet’ would be lost. A proud northerner and staunch opponent to the whole scheme, I live and work in the Leeds area. Please do not claim to speak for us all, as many of us can see what an utter debacle this whole project is. I have friends in Doncaster that get to London in around 90 mins at present; HS2 will mean their direct trains in the ECML are slower, and there’s no HS2 station anywhere near them. That’s “leveling” up in action!

    • ianvisits says:

      HS2 is not just about providing links to London, indeed, that’s not even it’s main function, but boosting capacity across regional railways — and while obviously anyone can cherry-pick the few places that will be temporarily worse off, the wider benefits across the UK support the reasoning for HS2.

  11. Richard Ash says:

    “Phase 1 was designed for too high a speed -400km/hrs was bonkers and if a sensible speed had been chosen then a less damaging route could have been chosen.”
    This is what upsets a lot of people, even up here in the North – a stupidly high design speed (which everywhere in the world has discovered is uneconomic to run), causing a lot of permanent destruction, with no opportunity to argue against.
    From anywhere other than Manchester and Birmingham city centres it won’t save any door-to-door time, because as soon as you have to change trains onto HS2, you loose the very small journey time gains in the interchange. A large chunk of the capacity “freed up” seems to be dedicated in the timetables released to date to keeping direct trains for all the places which already have them (and will be kept on the existing route for lack of junctions). Building or re-opening two 140mph tracks, connected to the existing network at all possible points, would by your own logic add more capacity (slower trains closer together?) than HS2 will. Fixing Welwyn Viaduct and unlocking 140mph on the ECML would probably give Leeds a faster journey time to London than going via Birmingham …

    • djohnson says:

      Arguing to build the alignment slower “saves” little as a windier and therefore longer railway required more materials to construct and affects more trees and ickle wickles.

      Equally why would not design to contemporary capabilities (with some future proofing.) That’s like arguing we shouldn’t teach children IT skills what a slate and chalk more than good enough. Or not give office workers their computers and iphones. It’s 2021, not 1921.

      And do you think all the moaning NIMBY’s would be moaning any less about a 150/100/50mph railway (pick any number you like.) Of course not. They don’t even care that it’s a railway, their objection has always been “it’s being built near me and I don’t want it” however they try to disguise it.

      The rhetoric always starts with it’s conclusion and works backwards looking for support – “HS2 should not be built (near me) because…”

  12. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I still think that HS2 phase 1 will be completed before 2030. And phase 2 to be completed in mid 2030s (2033/34 or 2035?).

  13. Harry Golightly says:

    In response to djohnson….
    So NIMBY ism is a bad thing? How’d you like me to build a landfill in your garden? I think the derogatory ‘ickle wickle’ comment says it all.

  14. John Newton says:

    Thanks and nods to IanVisits for not only the informative and evocative photographs but for informed analysis and commentary (worth using link to earlier article on problems coonected with upgrading existing West Coat mainline) that has induced useful debate.

  15. Liam says:

    Thank you for the photos Ian. I particularly enjoyed the chiltern tunnel entrance. The colours of the cranes are particularly pleasing.

    I wonder if they’ll hold a competition to name the tunnel boring machines? I would want one called, “Boris McBore Face”. I believe they leave them buried at the end of the project’s usually? A fitting end perhaps?

  16. Harry Golightly says:

    In reply to Ian 3rd Jan ….

    No ‘cherry picking’ required my friend- it’s far easier to find places disadvantaged by the scheme than advantaged. How does HS2 create more capacity for any local services even just around the Northern cities it’s supposed to support?

    • ianvisits says:

      There is so much documentation online showing how HS2 boosts capacity – please just do some research into it – it’s pretty obvious when you read the documentation.

  17. JP says:

    Phew that was a read and a ½!
    I’m glad that I didn’t have a glass of something nice to hand, despite Glen Williams’s great idea and refreshing, shall we say, take on the whole shebang.

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