Climate change and weather resilience

We prepare for the impact of the weather on our network by forecasting it daily and by understanding the projected impact of climate change

Dawlish track sea damage

Weather – the challenges we face

Weather is what happens in the shorter term: rainfall, heatwaves, snow showers and so on. Extreme weather, such as very high temperatures or high winds, can sometimes impact the railway and cause disruption.

Network Rail's Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Policy

For example, heavy rainfall can lead to flooding, stopping trains from running and damaging railway infrastructure, causing months of costly repairs. Flooding can lead to landslips, which tend to affect large areas and need substantial engineering work to make the railway safe again.

Where possible, we use the latest technology (such as visual and thermal imaging from our helicopter and drones) to monitor when and where weather is likely to cause these kinds of problems so we can either prevent them or respond quickly to restore normal, safe service.

We’re improving the weather resilience of our railway infrastructure, both now and for the future. This is important to maintain efficient and reliable train services for passengers.

You can read more examples of how different weather conditions cause delays here and find out what we do to help get trains running again.

Find out about our seasonal track treatment and weather support fleet

Planning for climate change

Climate is the story of weather patterns in the much longer term – observed over years and decades. Long-term changes in weather such as an increase in flooding or a change in seasonal temperatures could impact train travel and affect how we manage the railway network.

Our Climate Change Adaptation report 2015 summarises our progress in understanding the potential impacts of climate change on the performance and safety of the rail network. It also looks at how we’re implementing actions and upgrades to increase its resilience.

You can also read about our approach to climate change and weather resilience in our Sustainability Strategy 2013-2024. We are in the process of developing a weather resilience and climate change adaptation strategy, which will be made available on this site in 2017.

How we’re working sustainably

Find out more

Weather resilience

Climate change

Seasonal track treatment and weather support machines

Delays explained