An interim report by the UK’s Network Rail has said that adverse weather events due to climate change have accelerated the deterioration of earthworks and drainage systems, putting railway infrastructure at risk.
As a result, the report noted that it is imperative to implement devised plans and increase the usage of technology to improve resilience to climate change.
The report states: “Climate change considerations are being embedded in our standards and planning, and the Government’s Committee on Climate Change recognises our resilience planning for climate change adaptation is well advanced.
“But it is clear from the impact of severe weather events experienced in recent years that this is an area that is accelerating faster than our assumptions, and as a result, it has become even more important to implement these plans.”
This comes after a train derailment in Stonehaven killed three people last month. This was the first train accident in the UK since 2007 that involved fatalities.
The train had hit washed-out rocks on the track, causing the derailment.
Following the accident, Network Rail identified 584 sites that share similar characteristics to the Stonehaven line and conducted inspections for significant defects.
Around 1% of the identified sites require sooner intervention than originally planned.
This month, industry rules for reporting and reacting to heavy rainfall was revised. The new standard calls for using real-time rainfall data and application of extreme weather action teleconferences.
The technology usage will be expanded for predicting and warning potential failures and weather events to enable decisions at a local level.
Local route managers and signallers now gain more authority to stop trains during significant weather events.
Network Rail has also formed two task forces understanding of severe weather events and improve earthworks management.
The report was commissioned by the UK Department for Transport following the Stonehaven accident.
Earlier this week, Network Rail started removing train carriages from the site.