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Rail industry must assess impact of climate change – RSSB

The rail industry must do more to prepare for the impact of extreme weather events caused by climate change, the Rail Safety and Standards Branch (RSSB) has said in a new report.

The RSSB warned in phase 1 of the ‘Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation’ report that climate change will affect the resilience of Britain’s rail network. In the phase 2 report, it sets out strategies for dealing with it.

The RSSB said the British rail industry lacks a cohesive plan for dealing with the impact of climate change, with different organisations still working in silos.

Mark Phillips, the RSSB’s interim managing director, said: “The rail industry has already introduced wide-ranging measures to combat the effects of climate change.

“But more investment and support will be needed to maintain an effective rail network, which is prepared for the potentially damaging impact of extreme weather.”

The reprot recommended that the industry considers adopting the Environment Agency’s approach to appraising investments that offer increased climate change resilience and keeps better records of the damage caused by extreme weather events.

John Dora, one of the researchers and an expert on climate change, said: “We found strong evidence that Britain's railway will be affected by changes in weather conditions caused by climate change. By improving understanding of where the network is most vulnerable and by taking action now, the future impact of climate change can be significantly reduced.”

Caroline Lowe, a principal engineer at Network Rail, said: “The project has developed our understanding of the scale of the challenge and helped us to shape long-term investment plans for the infrastructure. It is clear that there is an immediate imperative for government agencies, infrastructure operators and transport providers to work together.

!NR is committed to implementing many of the recommendations of the research and collaboratively working to deliver a resilient railway service to customers today and in the future.”

A recent London Underground report warned that 57 Tube stations are at high risk of flooding due to climate change and 23 are at significant risk.

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John Hammond   15/07/2016 at 14:26

It's not at all surprising to me and it's very clear that ballasted tracks are by concept exposed to the risk of weather ingress, which as the frequency of the extreme events increases the effect on the stability of earthworks particularly to vulnerable sections of the rail network will inevitable give rise to sudden failures as reported today that occurred near Sheffield. So what's the answer? Maybe the time has come to reassess the viability, sustainability and the safety of traditional ballasted tracks in areas of "high risk" and look to alternative options that are developing to enable track construction to provide long term solutions that can meet the challenge presented by global adverse weather events?

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