Boost for High Speed plans

The meeting is a landmark moment for HS2 since the Department for Transport extended the company’s remit to include Scotland last year and allows Mr Brown and representatives from HS2 Ltd to see how Scotland can contribute to the development of high speed rail both here and internationally.

The centre is led by Professor Peter Woodward, one of the world’s leading experts on geo-engineering of railways, and is leading the way on high speed rail research.

During a tour of the centre, Mr Brown was shown the UK’s biggest purpose-built laboratory test track bed, which can predict the effects of high speed trains and simulate the effects of decades of operation on major lines.

Mr Brown said:

“The centre at Heriot-Watt shows that high speed rail can benefit Scotland not just by cutting journey times and increasing investment potential here, but also from the export of our research and engineering expertise in the field.

“High speed rail is a global industry and Scotland’s engineers are at the forefront. We have to ensure that our transport networks aren’t falling behind and take advantage of the world-leading knowledge that is right here on our doorstep.

“As well as discussing with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport on how we can take forward plans for high speed rail in Scotland, I’m also working with Heriot Watt to see how we can create jobs, export skills and attract inward investment around high speed rail.”

HS2 Ltd lead spokesperson, Ben Ruse said:

“We will continue to work closely with and support leading researchers such as Professor Woodward at Heriot Watt University to develop and design safe and efficient high speed train operations for HS2.

“HS2 is a transformational project that will bring huge benefits in terms of rail capacity, connectivity and reliability, which will help underpin prosperity right across the UK, support hundreds of thousands of jobs and develop the national skills base.

“Scotland will benefit from high speed rail services as soon as Phase One of the route opens in 2026, as there will be a seamless transition of trains onto the West Coast Main Line and with Phase Two these benefits will increase further.”

Professor Woodward said:

“High and ultra speed railways are our future, they have the capacity to transform the economic prosperity of nations and our challenge is to develop the technology to underpin their successful implementation and cost effectiveness across the world.

“Our existing test track bed, GRAFT II, the biggest of its kind in the UK, allows us to look at the effects of speed and weather conditions, including flooding, and even extreme situations like rail tracks running through deserts, findings which will be crucial to the development of any high speed link in the UK and beyond.

“Plans are already underway here to construct the world’s most advanced railway test track facility, GRAFT III, positioning the Centre as the world’s premier railway testing organisation for high-speed and ultra speed.”

Notes to editors


Images from today’s visit are available from photographer Stuart Nichol.

Transport Scotland Press Office : 0141 272 7195

Published 30 Jan 2014