Resilient Mobility > Taking Action > Climate Resilient Rail

Climate Resilient Rail

It is essential that investment decisions focus beyond today's needs and embrace the essential obligation to safeguard transport infrastructure against climate change impacts. Informed policy will be critical for the rail industry to work together to minimise the damage and delay attributable to extreme weather events. 

Rail construction, UK (©Network Rail)
The rail industry has the difficult challenge of delivering sustainable low carbon transport whilst addressing impacts from global climate change and current economic pressures. Increasing the climate resilience of rail requires a consideration of the vulnerabilities of infrastructure, rolling stock, stations, depots, staff, passengers and freight. Climate impacts on rail include high temperatures causing tracks to buckle and overhead lines to sag, wind damage, landslides on embankments, bridge scour and flooding of track, stations and depots. There are also health and safety consequences for passengers and staff in extreme heat, highlighted by incidents where passengers have been stranded for long periods of time in trains with limited air conditioning. Climate change impacts on access to depots, stations and control centres, and on the provision of power and telecommunications should also be considered.

TRL’s Affordable Safeguarding concept supports the rail sector in increasing its climate resilience within  financial constraints, and recognises the need for:

  • Cost-effective development of climate resilient rail networks;
  • Strong links between asset vulnerability to extreme weather events and rail infrastructure management processes; and
  • The development of affordable and innovative solutions to reducing risk, ranging from utilising state-of-the-art technology to revising design standards and management procedures.