Adapting to climate changes

Despite efforts at mitigation, our climate is changing and all sectors of the economy need to adapt to it, especially large infrastructure managers and landowners like the railway industry. Research and information sharing by the UIC illustrates that if the right information is given in time to the right stakeholders, then good adaptation strategies can be implemented, providing the possibility to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Railways have been forming part of our landscapes for years and as such, they have been constantly subject to the effects of the weather. Now, due to climate change, railways are more than ever exposed to hard weather conditions and thus, the need for adaptation is growing urgently.

To cope with extreme weather and to recover quickly from it, various strategies have been implemented by different railways companies that aim at coping with the impacts of flooding, storms and gales, intense short time period rainfall, extended rain periods, thunderstorms, hot temperatures and changing vegetation.

RERA Project

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind this century. Companies in naturally exposed regions could see a significant share of their capital destroyed if natural hazards/disasters materialise or increase, especially in the long run.

As the UIC Vision 2030 ‘Design a better future’ explains, given the right action and investment, we can create a future where rail is the backbone of a sustainable mobility system, meaning that the resilience of infrastructure, rolling stock and operations to climate change will play an important role.

UIC is committed to enhancing the sector´s resilience to climate change and, for that purpose, will lead a set of five projects under the name of Resilient Railways Facing Climate Change (RERA) where the consequences of heavy rains, high temperatures & desertic conditions, strong winds, adherence and earthquakes on both operations and infrastructure will be studied.

The benefits of these projects for the railway system are:

  • Resilience will be increased through the identification and management of and adaptation to natural hazards.
  • Operational and safety measures will be defined.
  • Design parameters and operating principles will be upgraded.

For further information, please visit:

ARISCC project

In 2009 the UIC launched a project named ARISCC, (Adaptation of Railway Infrastructure to Climate Change) which reported in late 2010. The project found good practice examples and case studies of adaptation plans and made recommendations on how to develop these strategies. The case studies and recommendations are available at:
Visit ARISCC website:

Building a resilient railway: UIC RailAdapt project

UIC members have experienced the impacts of extreme weather events in recent years. As well as the costs of damage (every year natural disasters cost the global economy around $1.2 Tn) railway organisations are aware of permanent loss of traffic
and damage to reputation. CEOs will therefore be interested in the UIC initiative ‘RailAdapt’ which is designed to provide UIC members with a strategic framework to build long-term resilience. RailAdapt will bring rail and other experts together to share good practice and develop guidance on optimising cost effective resilience, prioritising resilience
activity, sourcing funding for the investment and making connections with funders (e.g. development banks). Full document to be downloaded below.

Rail Adapt Report

- PDF - 5.3 Mb

Flyer RailAdapt

- PDF - 2.7 Mb


Previous work

In 2006 UIC dedicated a task force to examine the consequences on rail infrastructure. In 2007 the task force launched a feasibility study aiming to explore if and how the impact of extreme weather events are an issue for UIC members and to give directions for the next steps.

The feasibility study was finalised in 2008 and demonstrated that the impact of global warming is an important issue for UIC members – and the future work will be targeting three phases:

  1. Readiness for extreme weather events,
  2. Robustness when extreme weather events occur
  3. Recovery ability after extreme weather has occurred

UIC is a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC)’s Global Adaptation Programme entitled the Nairobi work programme.

UIC is also a member of the UNECE Expert Group on Adaptation, and the EC Adaptation Steering Group.

UIC recently made a presentation to an OECD Conference on Climate Change Adaptation - see presentation below.

Please see below a series of presentations from our workshop held in 2010 on this topic.

Workshop on Adaptation of Railway Infrastructure to Climate Change (ARISCC) with contribution from “Railways and Winter”

When: 19th and 20th October 2010
Where: UIC HQ Paris

The workshop on focused on the 3Rs – Readiness, Resilience & Recovery of climate adaption. During the two-day workshop, several presentations and participants from different European countries illustrated and discussed the status quo as well as key elements of an integrated natural hazard management with regard to ARISCC.

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Wednesday 3 June 2015