Climate change

We need to understand how climate change could affect the weather we have in the future so that we can plan and continue to provide a safe, reliable network

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.

Wessex fulwell flooding

Our planning is based on data from UK Climate Projections, which incorporates sophisticated scientific methods provided by the Met Office to suggest possible changes – all the way to 2080.

This allows us to plan very specifically, for very far in the future. For example we’re able to use a tool that predicts the type of future weather events that parts of the railway, such as bridges or viaducts, will be able to cope with. This will help us to understand when we need to take action to improve or reinforce those structures.

Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation report

We contributed to the Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation 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.

Climate change adaptation report 2015 (PDF)

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.

Vision for the future

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 know the decisions we take now will have an impact on how well the railway can cope with weather conditions for years to come and we’re in the process of developing a weather resilience and climate change adaptation strategy to enhance our understanding of risk and improve our resilience in the future.