The first freight rail trains for HS2’s construction site in Buckinghamshire have started delivering aggregate to support the construction of a temporary railhead at the town of Calvert.
The site, to the north of London, is an interesting one, as HS2 trains will pass right through the middle of a disused railway station.
Calvert railway station was built in 1899 with a single two-sided platform serving a tiny village. The railway company, the Great Central had high hopes though, as they designed it to be expandable later to service four railway lines expecting that the arrival of the railway would spur a town to grow where a small village stood.
No town arrived though, and the station eventually closed in 1963 as part of the Beeching cuts. Photos of the old station can be seen here.
For a railway in the middle of the countryside, it had a lot of sidings, as not far from it was a brick clay mine — which are today two lakes, and a landfill site — and a large brickworks was built next to the railway
The railway line remains, as a single-track freight service.
Although not directly useful for HS2, this part of the alignment of the railway is usefully straight and not surrounded by housing, so HS2 will run along the old permanent way, with the single remaining line for freight shunted sideways a bit.
HS2 will join the old alignment just to the north of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, passing by Calvert and then heading northwards through new embankments and cuttings.
With HS2 sitting where the old railway used to be, that puts Calvert station right in the way of the modern high-speed trains, so it has to go. Not much remains anyway alas, the station buildings were long since torn down, and just an overgrown platform lingers in the path of the new trains.
The area though isn’t just getting a high-speed line, as just to the north of the town is an east-west railway which is also being upgraded at the moment to create a link between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes.
There will also be a HS2 maintenance depot built next to the railway line.
At the peak of construction, more than 650 people will work at the Calvert Railhead, stockpiling materials and managing the logistics and construction of the central section of the new railway. Once HS2 is complete, the railhead will be removed and the site landscaped, leaving only the infrastructure maintenance depot.
A small town that popped into existence because a Victorian railway stuck a station there will end up with far more railway infrastructure than it’s ever had before, but no railway station.