UKIP Transport spokesman Jill Seymour today called for work on the HS2 rail link to be halted immediately after an expert’s report highlighted serious safety concerns.
The Sunday Telegraph has published findings of previously secret research, commissioned by HS2 itself, which warns that trains will be at risk of derailment and catastrophic track failure at their top speeds. It has been written by Professor Peter Woodward, one of the world’s leading experts in the geo-engineering of railways. According to the newspaper report, the professor said the 225mph speeds proposed by HS2 would create “critical track velocity effects” and “significant issues” with track instability.
Mrs Seymour said: “The Government is determined to railroad this scheme through as quickly as it can, but it cannot brush this report under the carpet.
“HS2 should be halted immediately until a comprehensive study has been carried out to address the points raised in Professor Woodward’s report. Maybe then, our blinkered Government may finally see the folly of the project.
“The cost of HS2 has already spiralled out of control at well over £50 billion, and the sort of engineering changes proposed by Professor Woodward to make it safe will add billions more to the bill. This is money that the UK simply can’t afford to spend.
“The only other option would be to reduce the speed of the trains – which defeats the point of building the HS2 line in the first place. Frankly, it’s an organisational shambles.”
The Telegraph ran a survey alongside its report asking ‘Do We Need HS2?’, and more than two thirds of those who took part over the weekend said the answer was no.
Mrs Seymour added: “HS2 has no proven business case, and the eventual cost of the project is anyone’s guess – it seems to go up every week.
“The Government is still not listening to the valid concerns being raised by those who are opposed to this scheme, and doesn’t seem to care about racking up a debt which will take generations to pay off.”
UKIP has always maintained that the HS2 ‘vanity project’ should be scrapped.
Mrs Seymour said: “It is destroying people’s lives and their communities. There are still plenty of other unanswered questions on plans and costs, and yet it is still moving forward against public wishes. It will only be supporting a minority, at the expense of the majority.
“What passengers want is an affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient rail network system that delivers from south to north, and east to west. We already have a network in place, but it is desperate for improvement.”
HS2 plans to start operations with trains running at 225mph on routine service, then increase speeds to 250mph within a few years.
But David Connolly, a colleague of Professor Woodward’s at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, is on record saying that the safe maximum speed on the soft soil along much of HS2 may be as low as 157mph.