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Environmentalists vs trains

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MattRat

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Why is it, at least when it is reported by the news, that so many so called environmentalists seem to hate trains, and try to stop any new rail projects from being completed around the world? Trains are the most environmentally friendly form of transport, and governments around the world try to limit the impact of railways on the environment. So where is the logic in being anti-train if you care about the environment? I'd just like someome to explain to me the thought process of these kinds of people.
 
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Journeyman

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I completely agree - I wish I could make sense of it. HS2 is the best chance we've got to eventually get rid of domestic flights and massively reduce carbon emissions, and then all we see is active opposition from environmentalists.

Eurostar has pretty much destroyed the London to Paris and Brussels flight market, and the WCML upgrade slashed demand for London to Manchester flights. There's still a lot of flights from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow - HS2 will slash demand for them. We need it.
 

yorksrob

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To be fair, a lot of them campaign against road building as well. I recall some fairly strenuoous campaigns against the extension of the M3 (I think) in the 90's.

I have less sympathy for people campaigning against reinstating routes that existed previously in the landscape.
 

Journeyman

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To be fair, a lot of them campaign against road building as well. I recall some fairly strenuoous campaigns against the extension of the M3 (I think) in the 90's.
That's true, but generally road building is much more ecologically damaging, as it was proven back in the 90s that the major road building programme increased overall traffic and pollution levels.

It's not entirely black and white, though. The M3 extension you mention destroyed Twyford Down, which was horrific, but got traffic away from a congested route that passed much closer to housing. The area the road previously passed through has now been completely returned to nature, and you'll never know a road was ever there.

I have less sympathy for people campaigning against reinstating routes that existed previously in the landscape.
True. If the trackbed is still there, the environmental impact of reopening is fairly minimal. However, I have very little patience for those advocating reopening the GC over building HS2. Quite apart from much of the GC formation having disappeared, it's hopeless for access to London, and doesn't solve the WCML congestion issue.
 

DerekC

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Why is it, at least when it is reported by the news, that so many so called environmentalists seem to hate trains, and try to stop any new rail projects from being completed around the world? Trains are the most environmentally friendly form of transport, and governments around the world try to limit the impact of railways on the environment. So where is the logic in being anti-train if you care about the environment? I'd just like someome to explain to me the thought process of these kinds of people.
Hmm - well, trains are more environmentally friendly than aircraft and a bit better than car, but very similar to a bus. Load factor is key - a nearly empty train is awful. And cars are improving fast - so we shouldn't be complacent. I think environmentalists would basically like everyone to travel less and walk and cycle as much as possible..

It's not entirely black and white, though. The M3 extension you mention destroyed Twyford Down, which was horrific, but got traffic away from a congested route that passed much closer to housing. The area the road previously passed through has now been completely returned to nature, and you'll never know a road was ever there.
.
I think even the road building enthusiasts would agree that Twyford Down should have had a tunnel. And some of the old Winchester Bypass has been returned to nature, but some forms part of a large park and ride car park.
 

MattRat

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I think even the road building enthusiasts would agree that Twyford Down should have had a tunnel. And some of the old Winchester Bypass has been returned to nature, but some forms part of a large park and ride car park.
These sorts of things are actually considered for rail. One of the reasons HS2, for example, has increased in price, is becuase they are tunnelling so much to protect the environment.
 

yorkie

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Why is it, at least when it is reported by the news, that so many so called environmentalists seem to hate trains, and try to stop any new rail projects from being completed around the world? Trains are the most environmentally friendly form of transport, and governments around the world try to limit the impact of railways on the environment. So where is the logic in being anti-train if you care about the environment? I'd just like someome to explain to me the thought process of these kinds of people.
There are two types of 'environmentalists'; there are ordinary people (like us) who believe in public transport, and then there are bonkers people (Extinction Rebellion types) who wish to prevent people leaving their local area and despise all modes of transport, including trains. There is no reasoning with these people; they despise everything about our way of life.

Don't confuse the two ;)
 

MattRat

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There are two types of 'environmentalists'; there are ordinary people (like us) who believe in public transport, and then there are bonkers people (Extinction Rebellion types) who wish to prevent people leaving their local area and despise all modes of transport, including trains. There is no reasoning with these people; they despise everything about our way of life.

Don't confuse the two ;)
That's why I made the distinction of news reports. Becuase that's where you see the people I am referring to. Speaking of 'news', I just finished watching a video about a particular high speed project in the USA, and one of the complaints from 'environmentalists' being how the massive tunnel included in the project would apparently destroy wildlife and habitats....

Hopefully I don't need to explain why I blew my top hearing that.
 

yorksrob

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That's true, but generally road building is much more ecologically damaging, as it was proven back in the 90s that the major road building programme increased overall traffic and pollution levels.

It's not entirely black and white, though. The M3 extension you mention destroyed Twyford Down, which was horrific, but got traffic away from a congested route that passed much closer to housing. The area the road previously passed through has now been completely returned to nature, and you'll never know a road was ever there.


True. If the trackbed is still there, the environmental impact of reopening is fairly minimal. However, I have very little patience for those advocating reopening the GC over building HS2. Quite apart from much of the GC formation having disappeared, it's hopeless for access to London, and doesn't solve the WCML congestion issue.

Yes, I notice Swampy from the Twyford Down campaign has also been at the HS2 protests.

I have some sympathy. I grew up in Kent before both HS1 and the middle bit of the M20 was built. That particular bit of countryside has definitely been degraded by all the construction works.
 

Journeyman

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Yes, I notice Swampy from the Twyford Down campaign has also been at the HS2 protests.

I have some sympathy. I grew up in Kent before both HS1 and the middle bit of the M20 was built. That particular bit of countryside has definitely been degraded by all the construction works.
Oh, I won't deny that life can be blighted for years by things like that, and in the case of HS1 and the evolving plans for it, life was pretty intolerable for a lot of people.

Unfortunately for us, Kent is quite densely populated with well-off people who didn't want a railway line on their doorstep. Northern France was pretty economically depressed and relatively empty, so when the LGV from the tunnel to Paris was being planned, people were desperate for it to pass near their communities.
 

MattRat

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I have some sympathy. I grew up in Kent before both HS1 and the middle bit of the M20 was built. That particular bit of countryside has definitely been degraded by all the construction works.
Except they can be built in a way that protects the environment. But instead of campaigning for that, they campaign against it ever being built, which is the part that makes no sense to me.
 

alex397

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I don’t really understand any green activists who are completely against HS2, and who have tried to stop it happen. We shouldn’t dismiss their concerns though, and try to reduce the impact on the environment (which I believe HS2 Ltd has been doing). Other than transport, nature is one of my other interests, and it does upset me seeing the countryside being torn apart for various things, but the benefits of HS2 outweigh the negatives, unlike many other things which are being built on, or being done to, the countryside.

It should also be noted that some green activists, and members of the Green Party, are pro-HS2. It does seem there is a bit of a division.
 

yorkie

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I don’t really understand any green activists who are completely against HS2, and who have tried to stop it happen.
See my post above; they want everyone to stay in their local area. We will never see eye to eye with them and they will never see eye to eye with us.

We shouldn’t dismiss their concerns though, and try to reduce the impact on the environment (which I believe HS2 Ltd has been doing).
That's not good enough for the extremists!

Other than transport, nature is one of my other interests, and it does upset me seeing the countryside being torn apart for various things, but the benefits of HS2 outweigh the negatives, unlike many other things which are being built on, or being done to, the countryside.

It should also be noted that some green activists, and members of the Green Party, are pro-HS2. It does seem there is a bit of a division.
Absolutely; as I said above there are two completely separate groups here.

Unfortunately the Green Party has been infiltrated by extremists; hence why I don't vote for them and will not consider it until / unless they change their policies.

As a non-car owner who is pro-green policies,they should be trying to appeal to people like me, but they aren't interested in anything other than an unelectable extremist position.

Groups such as 'Greens 4 HS2' are marginalised by the extremists.
We think the Green Party’s position is politically harmful and short-sighted: it puts us at odds with other green parties in Europe and with our own policy, at the same time aligning us with the IEA, TPA, UKIP and other fringe groups with no interest in sustainability.
They are absolutely spot on.

I would urge anyone who believes in public transport to absolutely not consider voting Green until they change their ways.
 

Purple Orange

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There appears to be calls within the Green Party to support HS2, which tells us the party is not completely united on opposition of the whole project. I wouldn’t even call it a binary situation where environmentalists are fully against train travel (or travel in general). The pro-HS2 lobby within the green movement would certainly consider themselves to be environmentalists. Creating an ‘us & them’ paradigm is not helpful and people on both sides of the argument are guilty of it.

As a society, we need to listen to what people are protesting against or for, and then consider. Extinction Rebellion (ER) and Greta Thunburg (I take it that Thunburg is not a part of ER) have been a success in some counts and should continue to highlight how our actions can have a harmful effect on the planet. It is no coincidence that since the 2019 protests that there has been a huge increase in scrutinising how governments and corporations act with respect to emissions and on a much smaller scale, our behaviour as individuals in using plastic and burning fuel.

There are greater and louder calls for rail to decarbonise and although the progress so far is not great, it is at least on the agenda. I doubt we would be anywhere near this point and I suspect current electrification plans would be smaller in scale.
 

lachlan

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There is much too much traffic and travel and transport, by whatever method.
This is what a more extreme environmentalist would suggest. In my opinion, there is far too much travel by car and air, but not enough by train, bus, cycling, and walking.

To successfully reduce car and plane travel we will need much better rail, bus, and cycle infrastructure.
 

yorkie

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There is much too much traffic and travel and transport, by whatever method.
Too much train travel? Are you against new railway lines, including HS2?

This is what a more extreme environmentalist would suggest. In my opinion, there is far too much travel by car and air, but not enough by train, bus, cycling, and walking.

To successfully reduce car and plane travel we will need much better rail, bus, and cycle infrastructure.
Spot on
 

Purple Orange

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This is what a more extreme environmentalist would suggest. In my opinion, there is far too much travel by car and air, but not enough by train, bus, cycling, and walking.

To successfully reduce car and plane travel we will need much better rail, bus, and cycle infrastructure.
Indeed. It will be interesting to see what the clean air zone in Birmingham does for public transport. It could result in fewer people travelling in to the city centre, but more using public transport in to the city centre while the remainder stay local to their home.
 

Horizon22

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Generally I think many of the more extreme ones are anti-any development. Some on the more radical side of the environmentalist movement promote zero or even negative growth which means that various projects of all sorts (housing, transport, business) should be cancelled and will point to any land take at all as environmental damage.

For HS2 for instance there's seemingly constant focus on the immediate short-term (loss of some habitat and ancient woodland) but don't realise the medium-term (rewilding this area) and long-term (modal shift to cleaner trains) will be so much more important.
 

Ianno87

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Generally I think many of the more extreme ones are anti-any development. Some on the more radical side of the environmentalist movement promote zero or even negative growth which means that various projects of all sorts (housing, transport, business) should be cancelled and will point to any land take at all as environmental damage.

For HS2 for instance there's seemingly constant focus on the immediate short-term (loss of some habitat and ancient woodland) but don't realise the medium-term (rewilding this area) and long-term (modal shift to cleaner trains) will be so much more important.

I've also seen theories that Extinction Rebellion are merely the next incarnation of the general "anarchist" movements that come around every 10 years or so (e.g. the "Occupy" movement around 10 years ago)
 

ABB125

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I think even the road building enthusiasts would agree that Twyford Down should have had a tunnel. And some of the old Winchester Bypass has been returned to nature, but some forms part of a large park and ride car park.
I think I read somewhere that a tunnel would have been cheaper, once all the costs of the protests are factored in!
I don’t really understand any green activists who are completely against HS2, and who have tried to stop it happen. We shouldn’t dismiss their concerns though, and try to reduce the impact on the environment (which I believe HS2 Ltd has been doing). Other than transport, nature is one of my other interests, and it does upset me seeing the countryside being torn apart for various things, but the benefits of HS2 outweigh the negatives, unlike many other things which are being built on, or being done to, the countryside.

It should also be noted that some green activists, and members of the Green Party, are pro-HS2. It does seem there is a bit of a division.
The Green Party position is, in my opinion, somewhat delusional. HS2 has loads of environmental mitigation stuff planned, so overall there will be more woodland etc than before.
(I'm told that it will cost more money to maintain the environmental mitigation than the actual railway!)
 

RPM

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@yorkie

Yes I am against HS2, it would just make travelling great distances more attractive. For example trains from London to York might take even less time than now despite a longer route!
Are they not fast enough already?

I understand a corresponding reduction in road capacity is not planned.

'Travelling less' is good for all sorts of reasons.
You're missing the point. Less overall travel is desirable, but a greater proportion of the remaining travelling needs to move from road and air on to rail. So it still makes complete sense to invest heavily in the rail network, and that includes HS2.
 

RPM

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@RPM
'Less overall travel is desirable'
Is anything being done to discourage travel by other methods?
Not enough IMO, but until HS2 is in place the railway can't really handle any significant modal shift so the point is moot. It will certainly need government policy to be behind it in order to succeed. Legislation to ban domestic air travel on routes that are covered by HSR would be a start.
 

yorksrob

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Clearly getting out and about is good for peoples wellbeing. Perhaps the key should be to encourage travel that enhances peoples wellbeing, whlst making it easier for people to shift away from mechanistic travel.

The recent increase im work from home might be a foretaste of this.
 

PeterC

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These sorts of things are actually considered for rail. One of the reasons HS2, for example, has increased in price, is becuase they are tunnelling so much to protect the environment.
The problem with HS2 is that the tunnelling is for essentially cosmetic reasons. The serious environmentalists (as opposed to the ones up trees near Great Missenden) are very worried about the effect on the aquifer, which feeds rare chalk stream habitats.
 

MattRat

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Generally I think many of the more extreme ones are anti-any development. Some on the more radical side of the environmentalist movement promote zero or even negative growth which means that various projects of all sorts (housing, transport, business) should be cancelled and will point to any land take at all as environmental damage.
Except they miss other important things all the time. Not just other projects, but I've also never heard one of them talk about EU overfishing, for example.
'Less overall travel is desirable'
Is anything being done to discourage travel by other methods?
Nope. I don't see the main stream media talking about the massive road projects that cause far more damage than HS2, for example.
The problem with HS2 is that the tunnelling is for essentially cosmetic reasons. The serious environmentalists (as opposed to the ones up trees near Great Missenden) are very worried about the effect on the aquifer, which feeds rare chalk stream habitats.
And what's the solution. You say it's cosmetic, but if it wasn't a tunnel, there'd be even more outcry than their already is, so you can't just build it on the land. HS2 needs to build the line somewhere, so where would you put it?
 

XAM2175

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For HS2 for instance there's seemingly constant focus on the immediate short-term (loss of some habitat and ancient woodland) but don't realise the medium-term (rewilding this area) and long-term (modal shift to cleaner trains) will be so much more important.
Without wanting to cast aspersions on the people who are sincere and consistent in their views, I do sometimes wonder what proportion of the no-HS2 crowd (in particular) oppose the project mainly because it specifically affects the environment close to them rather than somebody else's less-important environment somewhere else.
 

MattRat

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Without wanting to cast aspersions on the people who are sincere and consistent in their views, I do sometimes wonder what proportion of the no-HS2 crowd (in particular) oppose the project mainly because it specifically affects the environment close to them rather than somebody else's less-important environment somewhere else.
Isn't that how it works in the USA? I feel like maybe there is a connection to be made.....
 

Horizon22

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Without wanting to cast aspersions on the people who are sincere and consistent in their views, I do sometimes wonder what proportion of the no-HS2 crowd (in particular) oppose the project mainly because it specifically affects the environment close to them rather than somebody else's less-important environment somewhere else.

Well certainly people do get very angry about things when it starts occuring close to them and some suddenly get very 'principled' in the matter. This mainly applies to locals as opposed to hardcore environmentalists who - to be fair - will also campaign nationally against projects primarily to get publicity. I mean that certainly worked for the Euston tunnels for example.

What you're describing is probably the classic NIMBY effect. Particularly prominent in Buckinghamshire right now for HS2. In twenty years time, people will have mostly forgotten about it and moved onto the next development...
 
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