Latest Rail News

01.07.15

Climate change to affect resilience of GB rail network says RSSB

Hotter, drier summers, milder, wetter winters, more frequent and intense extreme weather events and higher sea levels will affect the resilience of the whole railway system, according to a new research report published by RSSB.

Phase 1 of the ‘Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation’ project surveyed the possible effects of changing weather patterns on Britain’s railway as part of an industry wide attempt to assess and mitigate risk by anticipating future challenges. 

“We are already seeing the impact of a changing climate on the railway – one only has to look back at the images of disruption caused by storm damage in Dawlish last year to see what impact adverse weather conditions can have”, says RSSB’s head of delivery Jane Dobson. 

“It is vital that the GB rail industry works together to take a long-term view of the projected changes to our present climate and come up with practical measures to make sure we are as prepared as we can possibly be”, Jane continued. 

The phase 1 research found that that higher summer temperatures, changing patterns of rainfall, more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as heatwaves, cold snaps, heavy rainfall and storms, higher sea levels and larger storm surges will affect the resilience of the whole railway system, particularly track structures, earthworks and rolling stock.

It has identified over 120 recommendations relating to increasing the resilience of Britain’s railways and its various sub-systems in the short, medium and long term; with 10 key recommendations highlighted as priorities.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Develop infrastructure design and maintenance approaches, especially for earthworks
  • Improve lifecycle costing and adaptive pathways approaches, including considering changing some key routes
  • Improve and integrate data about assets, weather events and operations to improve predictive modelling and response
  • Improve the industry’s ability to model and predict the impacts of combined and successive weather events
  • Improve communications about weather events and climate change throughout the industry

The outputs of phase 1 have now been published on SPARK, the knowledge sharing portal for rail professionals and experts.

Phase 2 of the research programme will focus on what can be done by the GB rail industry to respond and adapt to the potential impacts of projected climate change and extreme weather over the short, medium and long term and is due to publish its findings in spring 2016. 

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