HS2 Trains in Will They/Won't They Derail at Top Speed Shambles

By Gary Cutlack on at

Claims and counter-claims have once again engulfed the development of that new train line, with the latest shock development concerning a suggestion that HS2's trains might just fly off the rails should they hit their planned top speed of 360km/h.

Rather embarrassingly for the HS2 project is the fact that this worrying idea comes from research it commissioned itself, with a report -- kept secret until now to add to the conspiracy --  suggesting the track might literally tear itself up should the trains be allowed to run at the world-beating planned maximum speed of 225mph.

The report was put together by Prof Peter Woodward, who said the lines "...may not be able to adequately retain the track geometry" should trains hit their theoretical max, adding that "...embankment instability, particularly over poor soils ... will generate significant issues during construction and operational running."

And that's not all. Other quotes from the professor include gems like "rapid deterioration of the track, ballast and sub-ballast, including possible derailment and ground failure" and "critical track velocity effects" that'll have the anti-HS2 lobbies drawing up new protest signs with joy.

Possible mitigations including simply slowing the trains when hammering over softer soils, making it more of a medium-speed line for vast chunks of the journey, or hardening the ground and adding billions to the cost of the scheme. Both of which severely lessen the point of it all.

HS2's technical director Prof Andrew McNaughton says it's all in hand so not to worry about spilling your coffee in a dramatic fashion should the line ever get built, explaining: "HS2 is being designed and developed with safety as the key priority. Mitigation measures designed to cope with all phenomena occurring when trains travel at these speeds have been costed into the project." [Telegraph via Guardian]

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