Quantifying the vulnerability of GB rail to temperature and precipitation in order to improve resilience

Fisher, Rachel Susan (2021). Quantifying the vulnerability of GB rail to temperature and precipitation in order to improve resilience. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Creating a more resilient railway network is crucial to national socioeconomic performance. GB’s railways are considered to be a resilient transport network when compared with other modes of transport. However weather and seasonal events can be attributed as the cause of 12% of train delays, on average. There are already well established areas of research into specific relationships between railway assets and weather hazards which have been directed by industry experts, giving a fragmented overview of the resilience of railway assets to weather.

The research presented in this thesis has developed a systematic, methodological approach which challenges the preconceived ideas of the impacts of weather on railway infrastructure. In principle, the analysis integrates historic railway infrastructure fault data with high resolution weather data, accounting for location whilst considering the exposure frequency of assets to different weather types. The methodology developed takes a novel, data-driven approach which highlights challenges for Network Rail regarding data quality. This approach has made few assumptions about the relationships between temperature and precipitation and the significant railway asset categories identified. As a result, this analysis has not only supported existing understanding through further interrogation of fault events but has identified assets which have previously been overlooked but are affected by weather hazards.

The approach developed provides a scalable and tractable foundation which can easily be employed by railway infrastructure managers, such as Network Rail, to calculate useful asset fault rate thresholds which can be utilised to inform decision making processes regarding asset maintenance and operations. In addition, the results of the analysis have been used to inform recommendations particularly for Network Rail as the Infrastructure Manager but also for the wider railway industry stakeholders to support progress towards a resilient railway for future mobility. This is of particular importance when viewed within the context of future climate change.

Key Words: Railway Infrastructure, Extreme Weather, Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TF Railroad engineering and operation
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11229


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