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25/07/2013
High speed rail link 'at risk of derailment' because of 225mph trains


High speed rail link 'at risk of derailment' because of 225mph trains

Secret research has been ordered into the safety of the Government's controversial HS2 rail scheme amid warnings that the high speeds proposed could cause catastrophic track failures and derailments.

Secret research has been ordered into the safety of the Government's controversial HS2 rail scheme amid warnings that the high speeds proposed could cause catastrophic track failures and derailments.
HS2 claims it will be able to run up to 18 trains an hour one every three minutes 20 seconds Photo: LNP

Professor Peter Woodward, one of the world's leading experts on the geo-engineering of railways, said that high-speed running created "new problems" in track which "may threaten the stability and safety of the train".

In papers lodged with the Government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Prof Woodward warned that speeds as high as those proposed by HS2 could trigger "significant amplification of train-track vibrations" causing "rapid deterioration of the track, ballast and sub-ballast, including possible derailment and ground failure".

High-speed rail in the West has a fairly good safety record, but experts are worried that HS2 plans to run trains faster than any other line in the world. Trains will travel at 225mph, rising to 250mph within a few years.

Most high-speed lines, including Britain's existing Eurostar, run no faster than 186mph and the world's current fastest rail-based trains, France's TGV Est, travel at 200mph.

Some trains on the new Chinese high-speed network used to run at 220mph, but were reduced to 186mph last year on safety grounds.

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