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RailAdapt - Framework





Africa; Asia; Europe; North America; Pacific/Oceania; South America

Scope of work
















Good practices and lessons learned

Uncoordinated adaptation will result in lower performance and introduce additional costs so the process will involve some standardisation and regulatory actions to ensure co-ordination. Proactively engaging can promote synergistic government investment and support while a failure to engage with governments national adaptation plans will mean a lost opportunity and potentially result in a lower level of support for the rail sector.



Date of submission






Adaptation element

Adaptation planning and practices; Capacity building; Communication and outreach/awareness; Knowledge management

Adaptation sector/theme


Climate hazard

Erratic rainfall; Extreme cold; Extreme heat; Floods; Storm surges; Tropical cyclones/typhoons




Partner portal


Rail Adapt is a International Union of Railways (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 changing climate conditions. Building resilience in infrastructure is gaining wider support from national governments with important commitments included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustiainable Development (Sustainable Development Goals 9 & 13) and the outcomes of United Nations climate negotiations in Paris (COP 21) and Marrakech (COP 22), where all governments agreed to develop national adaptation plans. Railways will play no small part in these developments. The rail sector has always been exposed to weather impacts. Methods of operation, structural designs and asset management strategies all implicitly take into account ‘normal’ weather conditions and seek to mitigate the effects on operational performance and asset deterioration. Climate change represents a shift in the normal conditions under which current designs and operations were established and will have a direct effect on the reliability and sustainability of the system. Without adaptation to reflect the expected changes in severe weather conditions and events, there will be a detrimental effect on operational performance, safety and the financial wellbeing of the railways concerned, thus reducing the long-term sustainability of railways. With prudent planning and adaptation to take account of climate change, railways will be well set to play an increasing role in the transport needs of their host markets, contributing to wider economic and social wellbeing. To ensure the provision of competitive and attractive rail services in the decades to come it is vital that the rail sector develops cost effective climate change adaptation strategies and implements them to improve rail sector resilience over time, against a background of a changing climate, demographic change and increasing population and mobility. Key points of the developed framework: avoid reinvention – build on what is already underway in existing activities, projects and processes; linkages should exist between adaptation and mitigation agendas (widening options for response) and risk management processes in safety / business risk management; bring together people from different areas (and external organisations) which can lend support and expertise to the work; the process has to be iterative, not linear – as new information and experience is gathered this will raise new questions and challenges.

Expected outcome


Further information

The need for good communication obviously exists independently of climate change or adaptation plans. However, integrating good communication into adaptation planning is vital and has many benefits for a rail organisation. In the development of National Adaptation Plans, the voice of the rail industry needs to be effectively heard, addressing the need for issues of transport resilience and development to be central for policy goals to be achieved. Within the rail sector, undertakings are encouraged to work together globally to develop common approaches and to work with other local stakeholders to develop risk-management partnerships. Within individual companies there is the need to develop understanding at all levels about the changes to standards, specifications and working practices that adaptation will bring, ensuring that it becomes “normal business” with lasting impact. Of course, customers are central to any railway business and therefore continued effective communication with them is also important.



Indicators of achievement







UIC - International Union of Railways



Regional group


Target group

Private sector









Type of knowledge resource


Scale of work





• Adaptation of Railway Infrastructure to Climate Change (ARISCC) • Climate-resilient infrastructure, getting the policies right • ENHANCE • Tomorrow's Railway and Climate Change Adaptation available through RSSB SPARK • International Centre for Infrastructure Futures • Infrastructure Business models, valuation and Innovation for Local Delivery (ibuild) • LivingRAIL • Management of Weather Events in the Transport System • Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (archived here) • UK DfT Transport analysis guidance: WebTAG

Implementing partners

Within rail undertakings • Executive management • Environmental managers • Infrastructure managers • Operations managers • Rollingstock managers • Safety managers Outside rail undertakings • Meteorological providers • Consultants • Regulators • Funding authorities – National, regional and local Government • Lending organisations • Insurance Companies and re-insurers • Public and stakeholder groups






Content Type: NWPSearchableItem
Version: 1.0
Created at 10/10/2018 14:30 by Serkant Samurkas
Last modified at 10/10/2018 14:30 by Serkant Samurkas