With protesters camped nearby, two giant 170m machines are being assembled

In a decade’s time, passengers on the new high-speed trains hurtling out of London will get just a burst of daylight and a glimpse of the Colne Valley landscape before disappearing back underground through the Chiltern Hills.

Today, in that three-mile stretch between future tunnel openings to the north-west of the capital, the £98bn HS2 project’s scale, engineering might and cost are all evident: both at the vast work site scooped out beside the M25 in Buckinghamshire, and in nearby waters and woods where protesters are still encamped to stop machines coming through.

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