Design of cuttings and embankments along the HS2
Group Members
Saleh Ammouna, Peter Youssef, Muhammad Nabil Juhari, Jacopo Piazza, Adrian Tey & Jiren Chen
Professor William Powrie, Dr Joel Smethurst
The design for resilient and cost-effective earthworks has become of great importance in recent years due to an increase in high-speed railway projects worldwide. The UK has planned to construct High-Speed 2 (HS2) which has been highly criticised due to its spiralling costs, partly contributed to by the earthworks required for the project.

There is a number of key considerations that must be considered when designing earthworks of high-speed railways such as the slope stability, settlement and critical velocity. Thus, at the early design stages, with a lack of accurate information and input, there is a need to be able to try out ranges of design options rapidly yet avoiding overconservatism and understand their implications on cost.

This project aims to develop an efficient design tool for earthworks, primarily embankments and cuttings. The design process began with the formulation of design methods that address each of the key considerations and then automating them into a design spreadsheet tool that can be applied to any section of a high-speed railway route. The innovative tool contains simple user interfaces and considerably accelerates the time required to arrive at a design solution. As a by-product, seperate software provides quick visualization of the spreadsheet results in 3D which allows free rotation and movement of camera position. Furthermore, the costs of the earthworks are evaluated and an economics spreadsheet tool was produced to provide whole-life costing assessments of various design solutions proposed by the earthworks design tool. By utilising specialist software, along with other considerations such as environmental impacts and construction methods, an optimum design for the earthworks was achieved.
Detailed 3D cross section view for a cutting and an embankment


Earthworks design 3D view for a section along the HS2


Railway route alignment


Railway drainage system