And now we are two

Exactly one year previous to the posting date of this current blog, I posted Happy birthday to me (on 10 Mar 2012) to celebrate the completion of one whole year’s blogging on this site, so it follows that this is my second birthday – well who would have believed it! This is blog number 198, so if all goes according to plan the blog that I post on 17th March 2013 will mark my double century.

So if this feat of sheer bloody-mindedness deserves celebrating, let’s bring out the bunting and let out a cheer. However, tomorrow 11th March is a far more significant date, since it marks the third anniversary of the announcement in Parliament that brought the acronym “HS2” into the vocabulary and changed the lives of many people who just live too close to a line on a map.

Of course, it’s only just a few weeks since a whole new load of people found out that they are going to have to learn to live with HS2 and the blight that it causes. The one lesson that these Phase 2 newcomers may learn from the Phase 1 third anniversary is that fighting HS2 is a very long haul. The campaign against this white elephant project is a road with many turns and ups and downs and nobody knows where it’s heading, but we’re all still belligerently trudging along it.

By way of a commemoration at this time last year I posted a shamelessly self-celebratory blog and I though that I would do the same this year, thus establishing a tradition – Heaven forfend though that I might be still posting on my third birthday. So the idea for And now we are two was born. This “bonus” blog, posted between two “regular” blogs on the normal four-day cycle, will pick up on some of the facts and figures for HS2 and the environment that I presented in Happy birthday to me and update these for the second year’s ramblings. So here goes …

In the second year I posted 104 blogs. The main reason why this was greater than the first year – which produced 93 blogs – was the recent series on the compensation consultation, where I upped the posting frequency. These 104 blogs contain just over 91,000 words to add to the first-year total of 75,000. This total of 161,000 words looks fairly puny when compared to the half-million or so in War and Peace, but would still make a long novel of more than three hundred pages.

The average blog length over the second year is about ten percent higher than last year, and is edging towards nine hundred words. This is, as far as I am concerned, an unwelcomed trend, but I feared that this might be the case when the final tally was done. I am beginning to think that “Lydia Dustbin” may have had a point, however rude I thought “her” comment made against my blog The power of 147 voices (posted 15 Nov 2012) to be at the time. Still, criticism has always been much easier than creation.

Total page views in my second year were more than 50% up on the first year, so that’s moving in the right direction, at least. Interest was given a noticeable boost in January this year by two distinct events. My series on the Property and Compensation consultation appears to have been well received, presumably by those busily creating their own responses, and I achieved a new daily high of 156 page views on 20th January 2013. Interestingly though this was achieved from no more than the average number of visitors to the site than was normal at the time, but they were each viewing about nine blogs, on average – so they were getting well stuck in.

A genuine boost came in new visitors on 28th January, the day of the Phase 2 route announcement. On this day a new high of 170 page views was achieved from over 100 visitors. Much of this traffic appears to have been directed to my site by search engines; presumably folks who had just learnt that HS2 had come into their lives were trying to find out about it. I hope that my blogs helped.

The top five blogs, as determined by the total number of views, taken over the whole of the two years are revealed in the table below:

Over both years

First year only

Pass me the map

1

3

“We don’t believe you”

2

1

You weren’t supposed to read that

3

2

Getting the measure of things

4

(-)

This blessèd plot

5

(-)

Interestingly, the top three are also in the top three for the first year alone and the other two “newcomers” to the chart were also both posted in my first year. Clearly my powers to enthral are declining; perhaps I should give up now. However, some consolation for me is that my top second-year blog, Grabbed by the throat, is only just lagging behind the top five. The blog that explains noise contour maps, Pass me the map, is the clear leader, with more than 50% more views than the second-place blog. Perhaps this interest results from others sharing my frustration that we are still waiting to see noise contour maps for HS2 Phase 1 three years after the project was announced, and more than two years after we were promised them by the Transport Secretary in post at the time.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by chriseaglen on March 10, 2013 at 8:04 am

    The villages are being noised sampled currently and the selection of sites is of interest.

    You should have a focus on judgements from next week to assess and summarise.

    You may find grounds in tort soon and possibly trespass and incursions.

    The benefit for the future will be to academics who look back on the period of under performance in the UK and the political rhetoric misleading not leading a recovery.

    Perhaps the value is in the search and focus.

    How much of Google Street view was undertaken in 2012 and 2013 and for what purposes and for whom.

    There are some fascinating questions to address.

    Yes HS2 is not a plan and design with improving merits as it does not provide what the nation wants and can afford.

    Faster rail may be but at a huge cost of minimal wider railway services value in phase 1 and phase 2 east is too expensive and reduces the performance of the north to south longer route by crossing England further for future NE and Scottish trains.

    Would you buy this railway promoted by some MPs and Councillors and dreamed up be political patronages with little initial ground work and obsessively hung on to by those who who know it is of limited railway value. Huge cost, no credit or cash and not yet.
    An example of the lack of competence in the democratic groups of people and their servants and yours. Time for the UK to get real about what is really needed and what has to change. Happy Birthday.

    Reply

  2. Keep up the good work Peter. It’s still very new to me (I’m a phase twoer), but why is it so hard to get the politicians to see sense over this financial fiasco? They’re trying to spend everyone’s money but not justifying HS2 with a sound business case (and they’ve been doing this for longer than you’ve been writing this blog).

    I know there are a handful of politicians on-board and hopefully this small number is going to rise but surely someone, somewhere in government must be motivated by the concept of “good value for money”.

    If you are frustrated over this I only hope you carry on bringing this message to the good folk it affects – that would actually be everyone in the UK!!! You know what i say… HS2 – stick it up there a*s*s

    Reply

    • Thanks for your good wishes Andy, I hope that we may meet up in the near future at an AGAHST meeting or other campaign event.
      I have to admit that after three years of HS2 I am totally disillusioned with our political system. I have discovered that what is generally called “spin” really amounts to a pack of lies, at worst, and half-truths at best. What we do have to understand is that the vast majority of MPs have no interest in HS2 and are prepared to follow the party line. Those that do have an interest may not have the time to research the subject in any depth and are often ill-informed. Ministers are briefed by civil servants who have the honour of their departmental to protect and don’t want to give the minister any bad news – “king’s new clothes” thinking undoubtably comes into play, and we appear to have a recent example of keeping things away from the minister in the WCML franchise fiascio.
      It seems to be impossible to be a successful politician and retain any degree of integrity. If you think that I am being harsh, just take a look at the video at http://stophs2.org/news/7944-years-ago-hs2-route-published and reflect on how the views of Theresa Villiers and Norman Baker appear to have changed once they were appointed to ministerial posts in the DfT.

      Reply

      • No problem Peter and I expect we’ll meet-up soon. Politicians… don’t get me started!!!!… I’ll stop now before i start ranting.

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