UIC and China Railways jointly organised the two-day RailAdapt workshop on 19 and 20 June in Beijing. Over 60 delegates registered to attend the workshop and discuss approaches to weather resilience and adaptation with speakers drawn from over 15 countries. RailAdapt is a UIC initiative aimed at keeping UIC Members informed and prepared, in support of national Adaptation Plans, UN agreements and EU encouragement to reduce risks and costs whilst improving railways’ resilience in the face of Climate Change. Indeed building resilience in transport has been given a boost since the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris (COP 21) and Marrakech (COP 22), where all of the world governments agreed to develop adaptation plans. UIC is supporting its members by arranging a series of fact-finding and briefing workshops during 2017. UIC invited members and other key stakeholders to share experience and outline the support railways have and will need from governments and investors to help make the case and secure funding for improving the resilience of rail services.
In his opening remarks Mr HE Huawu, Chief Engineer for China Railway, remarked that "The issue of climate change, i.e. global warming and increase of extreme weather events, is now a critical issue of common concern in the world, which might not only influence the people’s living environment and sustainable development of economy and society, but also impact the safety, reliability and durability of important infrastructure like transportation and energy."
He also explained the wide range of climatic zones and environments that China Railways operates within ‘Beijing-Guangzhou HSR crossing over different climate zones, the Harbin-Dalian HSR, the first HSR built in seasonal permafrost area, Hai’nan round island HSR built in tropical zone and the Lanzhou-Urumqi HSR crossing Gobi desert frequently suffering from sandstorms.’
Mr Loubinoux Director General of UIC observed "At a high level this project responds to discussions and on adaptation with the United Nations. This is an emerging topic that is not yet fully mature. We aim to build a bridge, to translate these high-level policy discussions into practical considerations for the operational railway.’ and ‘It is through meeting such as today that we will raise our understanding of how to manage adaptation. To develop a common vocabulary and a vision for the resilient railway for the future. It is our responsibility to articulate this vision. To make sure that we are ready for a discussion on the long term resilience of the railway. We need to lead this discussion when talking to Ministries, regulators, investors and insurance companies."
A number of distinguished speakers presented a broad range including detailed examples of how railways the manage adverse impacts of extreme weather on railway operations and opportunities for improving resilience at low or marginal cost through renewal processes. It was agreed that a significant challenge remains to mainstream adaptation and weather resilience throughout the many relevant departments of railway companies.
The RailAdapt project is seeking to develop a network of experts working on adaptation and welcomes UIC members to contact the project team.