HS2 defends itself against derailment claims

HS2 Ltd has defended itself following allegations that its trains could derail at top speed, saying it is mitigating potential safety risks.

In research, commissioned by HS2 and seen by the Daily Telegraph, Professor Peter Woodward, Atkins Professor of High Speed Railways at Heriot Watt University, says that the 225mph speed limit proposed for HS2 risks creating track and embankment instability and causing rapid deterioration of the track, ballast and sub-ballast that may lead to derailment and track failure.

Professor Victor Krylov of Loughborough University also told the Telegraph that the train was in danger of the Rayleigh wave, a ground-vibration boom which causes a sudden, large increase in ground vibrations.

However, Ben Ruse, spokesperson for HS2, said: “We support the work by Prof Woodward. We recognise the need to mitigate for the phenomenon of Rayleigh waves and we have done.

“The detailed design will be based on the specific ground investigation works we are undertaking as we get access to all the route.”

The HS2 committee published its final report last month, laying out recommendations including a longer Chilterns bored tunnel, greater noise protection for Wendover, better construction arrangements in Hillingdon, and a re-modelled maintenance depot at Washwood Heath as the HS2 Bill prepares to go through Parliament.

In a speech at the Northern Powerhouse International Conference, HS2 chair Sir David Higgins said that the proposed train line is leading to greater investment and transport opportunities across the country.


Graham Nalty   15/03/2016 at 08:06

I would have thought this to be one thing that HS2 Ltd. would get right and design the proper track bed appropriate to the running speeds. Is this a scare story or will we see the cost of HS2 rising as a result of superior track bed provision?

Noam Bleicher   15/03/2016 at 09:10

Is this a scare story Graham? Do we really need to answer that?

John Grant   15/03/2016 at 12:23

The HS2 folks are certainly aware of Rayleigh waves, which become an issue above about 200 mph, and I've heard they are proposing to run at a lower speed initially. The Thrust SSC project knows a lot about Rayleigh waves and I'd be surprised if they're not talking to them.

Paul Treanor   15/03/2016 at 15:23

I really cannot imagine the need to run at higher than 200mph (320kph). No other railway administration (in countries significantly larger than ours) operates at such very high speed in commercial operation. We didn't reinvent the wheel with HS1 so why do so with HS2?

Gb   15/03/2016 at 20:33

It wasn't long ago that we were told that HS2 was not about speed but increasing capacity, so why has speed been talked up again? I don't think travelling on the ground at 200mph would be very pleasant anyway. Far better to spend the money on targetted enhancements and development of our existing rail system, including reopening closed lines to make the railway accessible to more people (and get them out of their cars) and spend the balance on the NHS, the Police, country buses and other social services. And why is a new line being planned when the nation apparently can't afford to maintain several of its main line stations? Its just not justified, very unpopular and doubtful if it will be economic in the end. Will the Govt., ever get real on this issue?

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