Adapting to climate changes

Despite efforts at mitigation, our climate is changing and all sectors of the economy need to adapt to it, especially large infrastructure managers and landowners like the railway industry. Research and information sharing by the UIC illustrates that if the right information is given in time to the right stakeholders, then good adaptation strategies can be implemented, providing the possibility to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Railways have been forming part of our landscapes for years and as such, they have been constantly subject to the effects of the weather. Now, due to climate change, railways are more than ever exposed to hard weather conditions and thus, the need for adaptation is growing urgently.

To cope with extreme weather and to recover quickly from it, various strategies have been implemented by different railways companies that aim at coping with the impacts of flooding, storms and gales, intense short time period rainfall, extended rain periods, thunderstorms, hot temperatures and changing vegetation.

In 2009 the UIC launched a project named ARISCC, (Adaptation of Railway Infrastructure to Climate Change) which reported in late 2010. The project found good practice examples and case studies of adaptation plans and made recommendations on how to develop these strategies. The case studies and recommendations are available at http://www.ariscc.org.

Previous work

In 2006 UIC dedicated a task force to examine the consequences on rail infrastructure. In 2007 the task force launched a feasibility study aiming to explore if and how the impact of extreme weather events are an issue for UIC members and to give directions for the next steps.

The feasibility study was finalised in 2008 and demonstrated that the impact of global warming is an important issue for UIC members – and the future work will be targeting three phases:

  1. Readiness for extreme weather events,
  2. Robustness when extreme weather events occur
  3. Recovery ability after extreme weather has occurred

UIC is a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC)’s Global Adaptation Programme entitled the Nairobi work programme.

UIC is also a member of the UNECE Expert Group on Adaptation, and the EC Adaptation Steering Group.

UIC recently made a presentation to an OECD Conference on Climate Change Adaptation - see presentation below.

Please see below a series of presentations from our workshop held in 2010 on this topic.

Workshop on Adaptation of Railway Infrastructure to Climate Change (ARISCC) with contribution from “Railways and Winter“

When: 19th and 20th October 2010
Where: UIC HQ Paris

The workshop on focused on the 3Rs – Readiness, Resilience & Recovery of climate adaption. During the two-day workshop, several presentations and participants from different European countries illustrated and discussed the status quo as well as key elements of an integrated natural hazard management with regard to ARISCC.