Climate change could increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather and we are planning now in order to provide a safe, reliable network in the future
We work closely with many governmental and specialist organisations to prepare our railway for the climate changes projected over the next few years, decades and beyond.
Our planning is based on data from UK Climate Projections, which incorporates sophisticated scientific methods provided by the Met Office to suggest project climatic changes – all the way to 2080. This allows us to plan very specifically, for very far in the future.
The frequent and severe flooding in recent years, particularly 2015/2016, has focussed attention on the need for key infrastructure to be resilient to current and future weather extremes. In response, the government and our regulators are seeking assurance that we understand the risks of our changing climate and are acting to enhance resilience and adapt to the impacts, both now and in the future.
In 2015 we produced an overarching Network Rail's Second Climate Change Adaptation Report for Defra which summarised our progress towards understanding the potential impacts of climate change on the performance and safety of the rail network, and actions taken to increase resilience. We have notified Defra that we will participate in the Third Round of Adaptation Reporting. We are planning to submit our report in 2021.
There’s no such thing as certainty about the long-term impact of climate change on Britain’s weather conditions, but we’re working hard to get it right by using the most up-to-date technical data and expertise. We are developing technical guidance and tools to support our staff and contractors with understanding and managing the impacts of climate change across the railway.
Route WRCCA Plans
Network Rail is divided into eight routes*. We've developed route-specific weather resilience plans that explain our understanding of how weather can affect our infrastructure at a more targeted, local level. Initially published in 2014 covering Control Period 5, these plans are being updated for Control Period 6 (2019 – 2024)
Route weather resilience plans 2014 – 2019
*We are currently undergoing a restructure which will increase the number of Routes and Regions in which we operate. The plans are based on our old structure and will be updated over time.
Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation report
We contributed to the Tomorrow's Railway and Climate Change Adaptation (TRaCCA) research programme. The outcome was published in May 2016 and outlines recommended actions and opportunities to enable Britain’s rail industry to respond and adapt to the potential impact of projected climate change and extreme weather.
The programme’s overall objectives were to enhance and share knowledge within Britain’s railway industry on the following topic areas:
- future projected changes to the UK climate and weather
- potential impacts of climate change and extreme weather on Britain’s railway
- actions already in place/other actions that should be put in place to respond and adapt to these potential impacts over the short, medium and long term
- additional resources required to enable Britain’s rail industry to take cost-effective action in the event of climate change.