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.

OS Map 1946

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 brickworks closed in the 1980s, and a modern town built on part of the site. So the town the Great Central railway hoped for finally arrived, but too late to save the railway station.

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.

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12 comments
  1. Robin Williamson says:

    Great article with really interesting links. Also worth noting that the existing freight line will soon be upgraded as part of the new service from Aylesbury to MK.

  2. Melvyn says:

    Suggestions have been made that a new station should be built at Calvert offering interchange between HS2 and the east west railway and maybe even linking the two enabling trains from Wales and the West Country to join HS2 allowing through services.

    While the creation of the station would give the Chilterns a station on HS2 helping to counter the anti HS2 groups.

    It’s worth noting that anti HS2 campaign suggests reopening the old GCR and that’s what HS2 is doing in this area !

  3. Andrea Polden says:

    HS2 Ltd have been claiming great savings of carbon emissions by using freight trains to bring in the heavy materials, but what happens after that is not mentioned. Presumably they have to be loaded on to lorries to be conveyed to the actual work sites. How many emissions will this cause? If they are going in both directions from this central site, presumably some will be going back beyond places they passed earlier!

    • ianvisits says:

      Why do people complain about this – and yet never do I see the same complaint made about say, a housing estate being built, or a hospital, or a school?

    • JohnC says:

      Because often people decide they are against something, and then scrabble around for what justifications they can dream up afterwards.

    • ChrisC says:

      Would you rather have goodness knows how many lorries on the road going from the work site to suppliers depot whihc would be many, many miles away?

      Look at the process in totatity not just a small part of it.

  4. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I’d say bring back the railway line and railway station to Calvert.

  5. Paul Adams says:

    What always goes unnoticed is it takes time effort and mess to bring anything back to life. Once those lorries have gone and the rail stations exist, how many car, lorry and other vehicle emissions will not be made simply due to folks using rail travel? Yes, I agree it has to come down in price and really become affordable but it will happen. We need a dose of reality. Trains were actually good for the country – they still are, we just need to embrace the idea.

  6. Henry Allum says:

    Here is a video of today’s train.

    66200 passes Maltmans Crossing just North of Gerrards Cross with the 676F 0910 Westbury Down T.C. to Calvert on Monday 11th January 2021.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IId2AmRs44s&lc=UgyVKwpBzex05gamIK14AaABAg.9INtCB1DfC29INwFJrUY9e&feature=em-comments

  7. Paul Milner says:

    Why not have est-west rail trains from Oxford/ Milton Keynes run along HS2 into Euston insted of into Marylebone could be run by chiltern high speed the equivalent to south eastern high speed but north of london then maybe a service to Heathrow also?

    • ianvisits says:

      Trains from Milton Keynes already go to Euston, and most trains from Oxford go to Paddington, which is only a few stops on the tube to Euston if needed.

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