U.K. to consider composites for high-speed rail system

HS2 Ltd., a government program developing a high-speed rail network in the U.K., is working with Composites UK to identify applications for composites use in rail infrastructure.

The Composites UK (Hemel Hempstead, U.K.) trade association reported on June 2 that HS2 Ltd., the government program developing a high-speed rail network in the U.K., has started investigating how fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials could play a key role in building HS2-Britain’s new high-speed railway.

During a two-day visit to the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, U.K., earlier this year, the team led by HS2 Ltd.’s Professor Andrew McNaughton explored the opportunities of how to generate significant cost savings for HS2, through the potential use of advanced composite materials.

HS2 Ltd. has decided to look at the following specific components for further development.

  • Composite overhead line gantries;
  • Composite noise barriers;
  • Composite architectural roofing and station fittings; and
  • Composite bridges.

McNaughton says, “HS2 Ltd. has the opportunity to generate significant cost savings through exploring the use of advanced composite materials to develop innovative engineering solutions for HS2. Composites are extremely low maintenance and as such can drastically reduce the whole life cost of components. Also, being extremely light, they can be significantly cheaper to install.

Dr. Sue Halliwell, operations manager, Composites UK, also says, “We are delighted to be working with HS2 on this initiative and their engineers have been keen to explore the potential of composites materials for a wide range of applications. To gain the maximum benefit from using composite materials they must be considered at the design phase so it is extremely refreshing to be engaged in a project at this early stage.”

Composites UK and HS2 Ltd will be hosting a one-day industry showcase event in London on July 14 to further explore the opportunities for composite materials in rail infrastructure. For more information and to get involved contact Composites UK.

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