David Cameron is being urged to rethink plans for high speed rail links between London and Birmingham by using tilting trains which could avoid heavily populated areas.

Michael Fabricant
Michael Fabricant
 

MP Michael Fabricant (Con Lichfield) will push the case for tilting trains when he meets the Prime Minister at Westminster this week.

The Staffordshire MP will argue that the trains could turn corners at high speed and allow a new route to be drawn up which avoided towns and villages, reducing opposition to the plans.

One of the difficulties currently facing the route’s architects is the need to create a route with straight lines or shallow bends, to ensure trains can travel at high speed without slowing down.

But tilting trains are able to turn corners at higher speeds.

Virgin Trains introduced tilting Pendolino trains on the West Coast Main Line in 2003, allowing journey times to be cut.

A report produced for the Government by HS2 Ltd, the company set up to deliver high speed rail, did not include any evaluation of the case for using tilting trains.

But Mr Fabricant said: “The only excuse I have heard from HS2 so far is that ‘the tilting makes passengers sick’ which is the what I heard years ago about not using Pendolinos.

“I occasionally suffer from seasickness, but haven’t ever felt the need to throw up on a Virgin Pendolino. Yet.”

He added: “I shall be meeting Prime Minister David Cameron this week to discuss my concerns regarding the engineering and route of HS2 and to discuss whether HS2 is needed at all.

“In particular, I shall ask why HS2 have still not considered the use of High Speed tilting trains which can operate at 400kph yet still travel round tight bends avoiding sensitive areas. 

“Part of the problem is that HS2 have planned the route with straight lines and shallow bends for conventional high speed trains which cannot help but go close or through populated areas. 

“The UK has over twice the population density of our neighbour France which uses non tilting trains.  High speed tilting trains are currently being developed in Japan, a nation which also a high population compared to the size of country.”

The Government faces a potential rebellion from senior Conservative MPs who say they are not convinced there is a case for high speed rail.

Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary, and David Lidington, the Foreign Office Minister, have both expressed doubts, and Jeremy Wright, MP for Kenilworth and Southam in Warwickshire, said he would quit as a Government whip if the role prevented him speaking out against the proposals, although he also said he did not expect this to happen.