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£45 billion rail improvement plan puts climate change in its sights

Earlier this month Network Rail announced the start of its five-year, £45.4bn rail improvement plan aimed at delivering a more reliable and greener railway.  

Over the five years to 2029, Network Rail will invest around £2.8 billion in activities and technology that will help it better cope with extreme weather and climate change.

“Undoubtedly, the country’s network is having to contend with hotter summers and heavier winter floods,” says Ellis Shelton, Logistics UK’s Senior Policy Advisor.  

“The changes in climate places a strain on existing infrastructure and threatens to delay crucial freight services. Looking forward, adaptation is key and from the £1bn that Network Rail had originally set out for investing in prevention measures to limit the adverse effects of climate change on the network - over the five years ending in April 2029 - this £2.8 billion investment should fund the work needed to address the serious threat climate change poses to the operability of the network.”  

Examples of the planned improvements include:  

-           Increased investment in looking after thousands of miles of drains, cuttings and embankments to make them more weather resilient. 

-           Recruiting almost 400 extra drainage engineers who will increase the care and maintenance of our drainage assets to be able to better handle increased and intense rainfall. 

-           More than 600,000 metres of drains will be built or rebuilt, redesigned or see increased maintenance to enable our railway to cope with much heavier rainfall and reduce flooding.  

-          Targeting over 20,000 cuttings or embankments for attention, with over 300 miles being strengthened through renewal and refurbishment and over 900 miles seeing planned maintenance.  

-           Installing CCTV at high-risk flooding sites to enable better and faster response. 

Precise ‘real-time’ world leading rainfall forecasting, detailing weather conditions every 500m that will link with asset condition data for even better train service management. 

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail added: “Delivering a better railway for passengers and freight users is at the heart of our new five-year investment plan.  

“Tackling climate change, safely improving train performance, adapting and responding to changing commuter habits whilst managing an ageing infrastructure requires the whole industry to rally for the benefits of all rail users.” 

Published On: 18/04/2024 16:48:13


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