Extreme weather, which has hit much of Britain this month, increases the risks that people and property are typically exposed to.
Heavy rain and strong winds underscore the importance of our earthworks asset management. We manage a portfolio of more than 190,000 earthworks assets, including slopes, embankments and cuttings - excavations in the ground composed of rock or soil.
Our specialist geotechnical engineers work across Britain to stabilise and repair weakened assets, enabling a network more resilient to future risk events, such as extreme weather.
Landslips, also known as landslides, are hazardous to the track and surrounding environment. Heavy rainfall causes landslips, making the earth saturated. This reduces the interlocking of particles, compromising soil strength.
Image 1 and 2: Landslip on the line between Ystrad Rhondda and Porth in Wales
Following an emergency like this, we deploy our engineers to carry out any immediate works to the affected areas; some of our previous weather-related emergency repair works includes stabilising hillsides and repairing cutting slopes.
An infrastructure fit for the future
Our earthwork portfolio is as old as the railway itself - most of our infrastructure slopes are more than 150 years old. Therefore, futureproofing our infrastructure is crucial – we aspire to and are actively working towards creating a safer, reliable and sustainable infrastructure that continually improves.
As the winter months approach, the vulnerability of our existing infrastructure will once again become apparent and emergency renewal activity will be inevitable. However, by examining geotechnical data and the results of monitoring instruments, our teams will be able to determine the appropriate interventions needed to help minimise risk, damage and disruption.
We use technology and industry standard techniques, such as ground inclinometers, to measure earth movement. We also improve stability by securing loose soil with concrete piles, soil nails and retaining walls.
As technology develops, we will be able to monitor the performance and condition of our infrastructure more closely and accurately, placing us in an even better position to handle the consequences of extreme weather.