Our new extreme weather resilience task force  

We have launched a new extreme weather resilience task force to tackle the effects of hot weather on the railway  

This summer, Britain has had some of its highest temperatures ever recorded. We’ve brought in independent experts to lead the way in helping to mitigate disruption and keep you safe on the railway.

What is our resilience task force?

Our new task force will be led by independent experts. Their job is to investigate and make recommendations on how we can develop our approach to resilience during extreme weather.

Our task force will consider four key areas, each led by an independent expert in their field. Three of these areas will:

  • gather insights from other countries;
  • compare with international rail networks that are more used to dealing with extreme heat;
  • and fluctuations in temperature.
Sensors measuring the temperature of the track

Why do we need a new taskforce?  

Hot summers can be as challenging as freezing winters on the railway. Hot weather can affect the rails, overhead power lines and the ground which the track sits on.

This can cause buckled rails and sagging overhead power lines which require us to close the line for repairs. We may also implement speed restrictions to keep you safe while on the move.

We work hard to get you to where you need to go, safely and on time by minimising the impact of hot weather on the railway. However, the weather we’ve experienced this week has put a huge amount of pressure on our infrastructure, our teams and most importantly, you.

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent as our climate continues to change. That’s why we are looking to maximise how we can mitigate hot weather incidents to make our railway as resilient as possible.

Who are the experts?

  • Dame Julia Slingo FRS, former chief scientist at the Met Office and a world-renowned expert in climatology. Dame Julie will help improve our weather forecasting to help mitigate the impact of heat on our infrastructure.  
  • Simon Lane, former managing director and chief executive of railways in Melbourne and New South Wales respectively. Simon will review our operational standards, policies and practices that could allow services to continue to operate safely without implementing speed restrictions in the extreme heat.  
  • Sir Douglas Oakervee, 139th president of the Institute of Civil Engineers with over 60 years of experience as a civil engineer. Sir Douglas will help us improve the performance of track and overhead line equipment (OLE) during hot weather.
  • Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent transport watchdog Transport Focus. Anthony will examine how we communicate with you in the run-up and during periods of extreme weather, as well as our planning for disruptive incidents.

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