HS2, the £55.7bn high-speed rail project, has come under fire after research showed that trains could become unstable and derail causing a potential disaster.
Research by HS2 has found that the speed of the trains could create “critical track velocity effects” and result in “significant issues” with track instability.
The research carried out by rail engineering expert Prof Peter Woodward also found that train speeds could cause “rapid deterioration of the track, ballast and sub-ballast, including possible derailment and ground failure”.
Due to launch in 2027, HS2 trains will run from London to Birmingham and then to Manchester and Leeds at speeds of up to 360km/h.
Prof Woodward said that the track to be used by HS2 “may not be able to adequately retain the track geometry” at the speed proposed.
He told the Sunday Telegraph that “embankment instability, particularly over poor soils … will generate significant issues during construction and operational running”.
HS2 has strongly refuted these claims.
A spokesman said: “There are definitely no safety issues associated with the design of HS2. To suggest otherwise is wrong. On all issues, the programme will select the best possible and safest technical solution.”
Prof Andrew McNaughton, the technical director at HS2, said: “We have a world-class team of engineers including some of the most prominent in their field working on HS2. We also have shared experience from high-speed train services around the world built up over decades. 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.”