High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Robert McDonald (HSR 191)

Please forgive the lateness and the manner of this approach, but I believe it is extremely important that the Select Committee's inquiry into High Speed Rail does not overlook the opportunity presented by Pendolino and other tilting trains.

As I'm sure you are aware, Pendolino trains currently operate on the West Coast Main Line and in many countries in Europe. Their great advantage is a tilting mechanism that allows the trains to operate at high speed on conventional tracks.

The Pendolino trains used on the West Coast Main Line have a design speed of 140 mph but are currently restricted by lack of modern signalling to operate only at speeds of up to 125 mph. Newer generations of Pendolino trains already run at 155 mph. Tilting train technology continues to be developed across the world and its versatility is well suited to geography such as ours.

This information is important to the Committee because it demonstrates the opportunity to increase the speed of inter city train services without the expense of a new track and infrastructure. By improving signalling and migrating to newer trains over time, Pendolino and other tilting trains can run considerably faster on the existing tracks and integrate with the present network more efficiently than the proposals for HS2.

I would strongly suggest that the Committee probe this alternative approach to HS2, and if possible speak with companies and forward thinking experts who are involved in future train technology.

June 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011