GTR hot weather warning message

UK: Network Rail has announced a taskforce to investigate and make recommendations on how the railway can develop its approach to resilience during hot weather.

The review will consider four key areas, each led by an independent specialist.

Forecasting: Dame Julia Slingo FRS, former chief scientist at the Met Office and an expert in climatology, will examine the likelihood of more frequent extreme hot weather events and how high-quality, detailed and timely weather forecasting can be used to mitigate the impact of heat on rail infrastructure. Slingo recently led a weather action task force focused on equipping Network Rail with a better understanding of the risk of rainfall to its infrastructure.

Safety & reliability: Sir Douglas Oakervee, who formerly chaired Crossrail Ltd and HS2 Ltd and is a former President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, will investigate options to ensure infrastructure can continue to function safely and reliably during very hot weather. There will be a particular focus on the performance of track and overhead line equipment, as they are the two most common causes of delays and disruption.

Policy & practice: Simon Lane, who was CEO of the New South Wales state rail authority, Chief Operating Officer (Rail) at Singapore’s SBS Transit and Chief Operating Officer at Metro Trains Melbourne, will explore operational standards, policies and practices which could allow services to continue to operate safely and without highly limiting speed restrictions in extreme heat. This will look at the effects of very high temperatures as well as wide variations between the hottest and coldest temperatures.

Communications: Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, will examine how Network Rail communicates with passengers in the run-up to and during periods of extreme weather, as well as in its planning for disruptive events.

Announcing the taskforce on July 20, Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines said ’with extreme weather events becoming more frequent as our climate continues to change, we’ve got to pull out all the stops to make our railway as resilient as possible.

’That’s why I’ve decided to commission this taskforce, spearheaded by leading global experts, whose considerable experience in their fields both in the UK and across the world will arm us with the guidance we need to make our railway resilient in the face of climate change for generations to come.’