UK: Record-Breaking Heatwave Leads to Launch of Resilience Taskforce

Off the back of Europe’s latest record-breaking heatwave, Network Rail has commissioned a new resilience taskforce.

This taskforce will investigate and make recommendations on how the UK railway can develop its resilience to extreme weather conditions.

Network Rail launches resilience taskforce in wake of record-breaking heatwave
Network Rail launches resilience taskforce in wake of record-breaking heatwave

The review will look at four key areas, three of which will focus 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.

Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said:

“The weather we’ve experienced this week has put a huge amount of pressure on our infrastructure, staff and passengers.

“With extreme weather events becoming more frequent as our climate continues to change, we’ve got to pull out all the stops to make our railway as resilient as possible.

“That’s why I’ve decided to commission this taskforce, spearheaded by leading global experts, whose considerable experience in their fields both in the UK and across the world will arm us with the guidance we need to make our railway resilient in the face of climate change for generations to come.”

Each focus area will be led by an independent expert.

Dame Julia Slingo, former Chief Scientist at the UK’s Met Office will look at the likelihood of more frequent extreme hot weather events in the UK and how Network Rail can maximise high-quality, detailed and up-to-the-minute weather forecasting to mitigate the impact of heat on its infrastructure.

Sir Douglas Oakervee, past Chair of Crossrail and HS2 and former President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) will examine ways to ensure the railway infrastructure can continue to function safely and reliably during very hot weather.

This will particularly focus on the performance of track and overhead line equipment as they are the most common causes of hot weather delays and disruption.

Simon Lane, former Managing Director and CEO of railways in Melbourne and New South Wales, will explore operational standards, policies and practices that could support services continuing to operate safely – and without implementing speed restrictions.

Finally, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of transport watchdog Transport Focus, will examine how Network Rail communicates with passengers in the run-up to – and during – periods of extreme weather, as well as how it plans for disruptive events.

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