Monday 26 July 2021

Pre-kickoff meeting of the UIC Taskforce on Extreme Weather Conditions held on 21 July

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The UIC Taskforce on Extreme Weather Conditions held a pre-kickoff meeting on 21 July. The purpose of the meeting was to define the contents, methods and means of participation in the taskforce.

The UIC Safety Platform decided to create the Taskforce on Extreme Weather Conditions at its most recent plenary meeting in March following a series of events relating to extreme weather conditions, particularly floods.

Frédéric Henon, UIC Head of Operations and Safety, introduced the meeting, briefly presenting UIC and the context of the taskforce. Various presentations were then given to demonstrate UIC’s background in climate change adaptation work.

Philippe Lorand, UIC Senior Advisor, Passenger High-Speed Rail, presented UIC high speed and natural intercity risks. Mercedes Gutierrez, UIC Infrastructure & TTI Senior Advisor, gave an overview of the EU Capacity4Rail project and progress on updates to UIC Leaflets 719 (on earthworks and track bed construction for railway lines) and 722 (methods for improving the track formation of existing lines).

The following projects were also highlighted:

  • The SAFIRST project on sidewind assessment for infrastructure and rolling stock
  • The EU FORESEE project on adaptation measures for resilient transport infrastructure: new materials and systems
  • Climate change-resilient high-volume transport (HVT): a policy guide for low-income countries in Africa and South Asia
  • The UIC RERA opt-in project (cross-functional project): REsilient RAilways facing Climate Change
  • The Rail Adapt project on adapting the railways for the future

Mr Hénon explained that the Extreme Weather Taskforce would work closely and cross-functionally with all UIC departments: the Passenger Department (high-speed and conventional rail), the Rail System Department (operations and infrastructure) and the Fundamental Values Department, which includes the Safety Unit and the Sustainablility Unit.

The timeline envisaged for 2021 – heavy rain and floods – was proposed and discussed during the second part of the meeting:

  • Feedback/lessons learned/best practices
  • Proactive/predictive measures
  • Mitigation measures (operations scope)
  • Selection of identified best practice

Participants gave their feedback, noting the need to take into account weather forecasting for the operational railway, economic aspects, the engineering domain (geotechnics, etc.), and the importance of bearing in mind the difference between infrastructure managers and train operators, as well as the need to focus on practical solutions.

Mr Hénon added that a systemic approach to developing operational measures was required, and that preventive and predictive measures should also be proposed. A suitable methodology is to be proposed.

3 activity areas were adopted by the participants as a basis for carrying out the work:

  1. Hazards/risk/target setting
  2. Process monitoring
  3. Standards and solutions

Experts in these three areas will be invited to participate in the taskforce and to work on developing specific materials relating to each area.

The UIC departments involved in the taskforce will consider how best to move forward on the agreed actions and the next series of meetings, and will propose a timeline to the members of the UIC Taskforce on Extreme Weather Conditions in September.

This task force is open to all UIC members. To join us, please contact Frédéric Hénon, Head of Operations and Safety at UIC at henon@uic.org

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