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Infrastructure Resilience Conference 2018

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Enhancing the Adaptive Capacity of Railway Systems

Within many countries progress has been made in producing National Adaptation Plans in response to the UNFCCC COP agreements. These plans are a means of identifying adaptation needs and developing programmes to address those needs. Rail transport has a unique role the long-term economic, environmental and social well-being of nations as energy efficient, space efficient and socially inclusive but must also develop long-term resilience. The reality of changing climate, urbanisation and social demographics mean that adaptation by railway organisations, as well as technical development, is required to meet the challenges of the future. This paper provides a summary framework for adaptation activities within rail, alongside exemplars and case studies to provide illustration. The framework starts from effective extreme weather resilience planning and the role that this plays in wider climate change adaptation. It also highlights the need for, and links to, current and future development of standards and specifications for rail systems, linking this with international developments in both asset management and adaptation. The business justification for adaptation is addressed recognising that resilience of services cannot be costed in the same way as fixed infrastructure or equipment. This framework for adaptation strategies is designed to work at all levels of ‘organisation’ and adopts a risk based approach that can work within the constraints of available information and uncertainty. This will mirror the management process which flows from resilience assessments, through benchmarking and the promotion of cost effective adaptation by taking a whole system approach. This therefore helps to avoid uncoordinated adaptation (policies and actions) which will result in lower effectiveness and introduce additional costs. The whole-systems approach also encourages standardisation and collaborative actions with other stakeholders at all levels to ensure co-ordination and wider stakeholder ‘value’ is achieved, whilst being clear and helping to achieve rail sector priorities.

Andrew Quinn
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom


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