Railway Network: Temperature

Department for Transport written question – answered on 28th July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Birt Lord Birt Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the options available to ensure the resilience of the National Rail Network at temperatures in excess of 40 degrees centigrade.

Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Department for Transport has plans in place and underway to adapt to and mitigate the risks of our changing climate. The Williams-Shapps Rail Plan includes a priority for long-term investment in climate resilience supported by smarter forecasting, planning and technology.

On Wednesday 20 July, Network Rail announced the launch of a new taskforce led by independent experts to investigate and make recommendations on how the railway can develop its approach to resilience during hot weather following this week’s unprecedented heatwave.

The review will consider four key areas, each led by an independent expert in their field. Three of these areas will be focused on gathering insights from other countries and making comparisons with international rail networks that are more used to dealing with extreme heat and fluctuations in temperature.

As part of the review, the taskforce will:

- investigate options to ensure the railway infrastructure can continue to function safely and reliably during very hot weather; and

- explore operational standards, policies and practices which could allow services to continue to operate safely and without highly limiting speed restrictions in extreme heat.

Network Rail (NR) and the wider rail industry are working to improve our resilience to climate change impacts and other disruptive events. They are developing a risk-based approach to resilience planning, enabling a focus on those risks and assets that are key to delivering safety and performance improvements for passengers and freight users in a cost-effective manner.

Many infrastructure operators, including Network Rail, consider the changing climate in their strategic planning and report on their preparedness under the Adaptation Reporting Power.

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