Information published on 2 November 2010 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 208.

Workshop on UIC project Adaptation of Railway Infrastructure to Climate Change (ARISCC) with contribution from “Railways and Winter“ (Paris, 19-20 October 2010)

  • Sustainable development

On the 19th and 20th October UIC organised a workshop at the UIC HQ to share the findings of the UIC project ARISCC project so far, to discuss next steps and to “touch base” with the UIC activity “Winter and Railways” to ensure maximum synergies between the two works streams.

The objective of the ARISCC project is to prepare rail infrastructure for when ‘today’s extreme weather becomes tomorrow’s normal weather’. The background for the ARISCC project is that railways have an extremely long life time and are constructed to withstand natural hazards, such as i.e. the 100 year flood. However, as the number and the intensity of incidents caused by extreme weather events will arise in the future, the pressure on the capacity of the rail system will rise together with the costs for the sector. If the right measures are taken at the right time, the risk will be bearable.

Participants from UIC members, EIM and CER, as well as the rail industry, were gathered during two days for a workshop programme structured around the following three R’s: for Readiness, Robustness and Recovery of extreme weather events.

Among the issues discusses were what can we learn from events today, and what can we learn from events in the past? Further on, as examples on good practise on how to be well prepared for extreme weather events in order to minimise their effects on rail infrastructure, Paul Arnold from Network Rail presented a strategy for severe weather management & communications based on the following key words: Forecasting, Informing, Advising, Delivering and Reviewing. Christian Rachoy from ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG presented the comprehensive system for management of natural hazard and weather information system already in use in Austria.

Vulnerability mapping is another key issue for the ARISCC project, and John Dora, Network Rail, gave a presentation on how to set priorities for the assessment of vulnerabilities in his report from the UK-project Tomorrow’s Railway and Climate Change Adaptation project (TRaCCA), one of the case studies of ARISCC. He underlined that many tools have been developed to manage current risks to rail infrastructure and the challenge is now to use these tools, data and science to build new knowledge. He encouraged the participants of the meeting to “Think System Resilience, Think Engineering Solutions, Think Priorities and to Think Early Benefits in improved Reliability!” Roland Nolte, IZT, presented the German case study which is among others specializing on regional climate projections and potential vulnerabilities.

Further on, Roland Nolte gave also an overview of what can practically be done to improve the resilience of current railway infrastructures, including alarm systems, improved maintenance, upgrading, modified standards and relocation of assets.

Enno Wiebe, UIC, gave an update of the findings and on the final steps of the UIC activity “Railways and Winter“, illustrated by many examples on what went wrong for European Railways in the winter 2009/2010.

Adaptation is receiving growing attention, also from the political level. Anne-Laure Le Merre, CER, gave an overview of the activities on climate change adaptation at European level which will lead up to a European adaptation strategy. The participants of the workshop also discussed the possibility of cooperating with key stakeholders such as the United Nations and the World Bank. This is now being further explored. The workshop was led by Margrethe Sagevik, UIC.

The results of the ARISCC workshop with contribution from “Railways and Winter“ can be summarised in the following points:

  1. Focus on Weather Warning, Event Recording & Databases, Natural Hazard & Vulnerability Mapping
  2. High synergies between ARISCC + Railways & Winter Readiness, Knowledge, Capacity, Contractors, Quality Standards
  3. Integrate Results of Winter & Railways + Recommendations
  4. Website needed for knowledge exchange & documentation
  5. Intensify Link between Infra Managers & Industry!
  6. Explore cooperation with external stakeholders
  7. The 3 Rs: Readiness, Resilience, Recovery confirmed

Members are still invited to join this ground breaking project.

The ARISCC project will provide:
A guidance document on adaptation for existing and new rail infrastructure
A webpage gathering knowledge base and exchange platform for good practise
Solutions for natural hazard management and early warning, incl. impact and risk assessments, vulnerability mapping.

For more information please contact Margrethe Sagevik, UIC Senoir Adviser Sustainable Development: sagevik@uic.org