About High Speed Rail
Since 1964 high speed rail has been used to carry large numbers of passengers over longer distances, swiftly. The technology is tried and tested. High speed railways across Europe and Asia operate exceptionally safely and have a track record of excellent punctuality. The first high speed line in the UK, linking St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel, opened fully in 2007.
HS2 would use proven technology and standards and draw on significant experience of high speed rail operation across Europe and beyond. Existing high speed rail lines offer frequent, highly reliable, high speed trips between cities using modern high-capacity trains. So would HS2. It would have good links with the wider transport network to provide the best possible door-to-door journey times, such as through the proposed link to Crossrail at Old Oak Common.
Should Ministers decide to proceed with a high speed line, HS2 would be a high capacity railway, designed to standard European high speed specificationsknown as the Technical Specifications for Interoperability, and make use of technology successfully developed in countries like France and Germany.As such, they would have high levels of reliability and safety.
HS2 would carry up to 14 trains an hour each way during peak times, each carrying up to 1,100 people, delivering a significant increase in long-distance capacity. With the Y network in place there would be potential, with some technical development, for this to rise to 18 trains per hour. Only high speed trains would use the HS2 route. Adding slower passenger or freight traffic would reduce HS2’s overall capacity and reliability.
HS2 trains would travel at speeds up to 225mph, similar to other European high speed railways. In the future they could reach 250mph on the condition that, through technical developments, there would be no unacceptable increase in noise levels.
The trains would be up to 400 metres long, which is longer than typical UK trains, with up to 1,100 passengers per train. The high speed line would be designed to accommodate double-decker trains, like those in Europe. And although the railway would be able to carry more people than a motorway, the basic width of the rails would be about one third of the width of a motorway.
These images show two recent designs of European high speed trains. The speed and capacity of these trains are similar to the proposed design specifications for HS2 trains. Trains running on HS2 track and continuing onto existing railway lines would be narrower in design to allow them to fit into existing stations and under existing bridges.
In some locations, the proposed route includes bridges and viaducts where it crosses roads and railways or environmental features such as rivers and flood plains. We have designed the route to minimise the size and number of major structures.
Structures would be designed so that they would fit in with the local landscape. These would be developed at a later stage of the design process. These images show possible approaches to bridge and viaduct design. Tunnel entrances would be largely hidden from view, as they would be in cuttings. We would design the entrances individually to suit the local setting.
However, running at high speed would require rail track to be straighter than for conventional rail. This means that it would not always be possible to follow existing transport corridors closely. To maintain their top speeds, the lines that HS2 trains would travel on would need to be built without sharp curves. Braking distances would also need to be longer to allow the trains to slow down safely.
HSR trains need to be more powerful than conventional trains, in order to run at high speeds. They can accelerate at a much quicker pace reaching 100kph in less than 500m or 300kph from a standing start in just over 7km. They are also capable of climbing steeper gradients, which allows them to follow the landscape – avoiding the need for so many viaducts and high embankments, while minimising noise and environmental impacts.
The train design and the stations serving them must also have different characteristics. High Speed Two trains would have higher seating capacities than other modes of transport, so stations would have to be able to cope with large volumes of people arriving at the same time. High Speed stations are more comparable to airport terminals than conventional train stations.
When using approximately ten platforms, it would be possible to run up to 18 trains per hour from one station on a single two-way high speed line. Considering the capacities mentioned above, this could be nearly 20,000 passengers per hour in peak periods.
Find out more – read our HS2 Trains blog entry
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