Home Database Publication and reports RAIL ADAPT Adapting the railway for the future
Publications and Reports

RAIL ADAPT Adapting the railway for the future


This is a framework document prepared by the International Union of Railways (UIC) and is addressed mainly to the executives and managers of railway enterprises. It sets out the context of climate change, the issues at stake, strategies and toolkits for dealing with adaptation challenges. Good practice is illustrated through the document with case studies showing how railways in different parts of the world are adapting to a changing climate and to extreme weather.

The document provides techniques and tools, adapted from other areas of risk management and from the varied experiences of engineers, operators and planners in different regions of the world. The aim of these tools is to help asset managers, railway operators, rolling stock engineers, scenario planners and many others to cope with different adaptation challenges.

Four key conditions for railways to be considered as climate-adapted are identified in the report:

  1. to be operated by organisations which are themselves adaptive, and embed the capacity for adaptation in all their functions, not just asset management;
  2. to comprehend the range of current and future weather conditions affecting the railway, and have operational and management strategies in place enabling them to respond to weather challenges;
  3. to comprehend how climate change may affect the range of operating conditions over time, and evolving its operating and management strategies at least at the same rate as the climate affecting it; and
  4. to adapt to climate change as part of the business as usual scenario, so that the cost of adaptation has only marginal impact on financial performance.

The framework to adaptation proposed by the document is divided into two sections reflecting the two halves of the process:

  • developing an adaptation strategy
  • implementing adaptation

This structure is based on the experience of transport administrations such as the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), the Finnish Transport Agency (FTA) and the PIANC World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure guidance to ports. The Implementation Plan works within the scope outlined in the Adaptation Strategy to explore and develop specific actions and plans that can be implemented, and to report on the progress of these actions both internally and externally.

The framework itself provides a structure through which an individual or organisation can review and assess for themselves what actions they are taking, what further actions may be necessary and who might best be placed to undertake these actions. However, its ultimate goal is much more ambitious: to change the organisational approach in the long-term in order to embed resilience to extreme weather and climate change at all levels of railway organisations.

Reference information

UIC, the Worldwide Railway Organization

Published in Climate-ADAPT Dec 12 2019   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

Document Actions