Friday, 22 October 2010

UK Rail Network 'At Risk' From Global Warming

In a report in the quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology scientists suggest that the UK rail network is at risk from global warming. The scientists from the University of Southampton and Network Rail studied the number of landslides and floods that resulted in delays to rail travel of more than eight hours. They found that the frequency of these major incidents was far higher during the wet winter of 2000-2001, when rail passengers experienced widespread travel disruption.

Scientists predict that such wet winters will become more common in the future, raising fears that climate change could result in "travel chaos".

In a separate study, Network Rail engineers have concluded that half of the UK's railway cuttings and embankments were in "poor" or "marginal" condition leaving them prone to landslides.

One of the most 'at risk' areas is the south east of England where much of the rail network is built on soft clay which is particularly prone to landslides. The Great Eastern mainline has often suffered from movement due to this soft clay and the Harwich branch has been closed on more than one occasion following the tracks and overhead catenary moving.

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