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Tue February 27 2024

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Network Rail commissions heat resilience study

21 Jul 22 Network Rail has set up a taskforce led by independent experts to recommend measures to keep trains running in hot weather.

Trains run okay in India [photograph by Sreemoyee/CCO]
Trains run okay in India [photograph by Sreemoyee/CCO]

With UK temperatures reaching an unprecedented 40oC this week, rail lines around the county have been shut amid fears of tracks buckling in the heat.

Sir Douglas Oakervee, former chair of Crossrail and HS2, will draw on his 60 years of experience in civil engineering to investigate options to ensure railway infrastructure can continue to function safely and reliably during hot weather. He will focus on the performance of track and overhead line equipment as they are the two most common causes of delays and disruption in hot weather.

Simon Lane, who has run railways in Australia and Singapore, will explore operational standards, policies and practices that could allow services to continue to operate in extreme heat. He previously led a review for the government of Victoria following a period of extreme weather there in 2009.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent transport watchdog Transport Focus, will examine how Network Rail communicates with passengers during service disruptions.

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Dame Julia Slingo, former chief scientist at the Met Office, will advise the degree of risk – on how often such hot weather is likely to be an issue for the railways.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said:  “The weather we’ve experienced this week has put a huge amount of pressure on our infrastructure, our staff and our passengers, and 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.”

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