SPIDER-Man's web would be strong enough to stop a speeding train, researchers from the University of Leicester have claimed.

In the second Spider-Man film, the superhero uses his special power to stop a runaway train plummeting to disaster - something physics boffins say could be a plausible feat, if he was real.

Scaled up to human proportions, the hero's silk could indeed exert the 300,000 newtons of force required, according to the researchers.

Their calculations are based on the momentum of a four-carriage train at full speed, the time it takes to stop and the train's driving force. The masters students say the stiffness of the web would need to be 3.12 gigapascals - well within the range of spider's silk.

Its toughness would also need to be about 500 megajoules per cubic metre, a measure in line with Darwin's bark spider.

That particular arachnid, which comes from Madagascar, produces the toughest biological material in the world with a web that zoologists say is 10 times stronger than Kevlar.

The research was published in the latest volume of the University of Leicester's Journal Of Physics Special Topics.

Alex Stone, 21, one of the fourth-year students behind the research, said at first he did not think Spider-Man's heroics would stand up to scrutiny.

"It is often quoted that spider webs are stronger than steel, so we thought it would be interesting to see whether this held true for Spider-Man's scaled up version," he explained. "Considering the subject matter we were surprised to find out that the webbing was portrayed accurately."           –SN