Thursday 8 February 2024

RERA-Rain and RERA-Temp workshops held to prepare the sector for climate change

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On 30 and 31 January 2024, the Resilient Railways facing Climate Change workshops took place at UIC Headquarters in Paris. Both of the days gave the RERA-Rain and RERA-Temp project experts the opportunity to discuss the projects’ progress and further development strategy. CEMOSA, the engineering company in charge of carrying out both projects, was present at UIC and represented by Dr Noemí Jiménez and Concepción Toribio.

The initial day was devoted to the first Resilient Railways project to be launched, RERA-Rain, which aims to increase the railway sector’s resilience against heavy rainfall and flooding. It is led by the UIC Infrastructure Sector. During the meeting, the group’s experts discussed the project outcomes to date, which were compiled into an intermediate report. As a group, they also held a brainstorming session about various possible mitigation measures against heavy rainfall and flooding, in order to exchange ideas about the different drainage design criteria in their countries.

Before discussing the next steps of the project, some members presented their company’s extreme events management strategies and tools. Knut Kuehnast, from the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), gave a presentation on “Tool-supported risk management of water hazards at SBB”. Then Cristian González, from Trenes de Chile (EFE), focused on rainfall management with the “Management of extreme rainfall in the past in Chile” and finally, Marta Figueiredo, from Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP), closed the session by presenting “IP’s climate-resilient infrastructure strategy”. The first day wrapped up with the structure of the project’s third work package, devoted to establishing the “Adaptation to Climate Change” plan, being discussed.

The subsequent day’s workshop focused on the second RERA project, which deals with high temperatures and desertic conditions and is led by the UIC Operations & Safety Department. As with RERA-Rain, an intermediate report has been drafted to highlight the main conclusions of the project’s initial steps. On top of high temperatures and desertic conditions being discussed, windblown sand took a central role in the initial discussion, as it is one of the main issues in Middle Eastern regions as well as in certain European countries. Other topics, such as monitoring vegetation around railways, were also discussed.

Leading on from the workshop, a presentation session was then held, with specific issues regarding windblown sand and high temperature management in the member countries being discussed. The session was opened by Metrk Alharthi, from Saudi Arabia Railways (SAR), who gave a presentation on “Environmental challenges and solutions”. This was followed by Carole Escolan Zeno and Anas Dabaj, from SNCF, who focused on “Passenger and heat wave management”, explaining how high temperatures affect both passengers and railway staff, and the solutions implemented within SNCF. This initial presentation session was closed by Katrin Neuhaus, SBB CFF FFS, who presented her company’s adaptation plan, with a talk entitled “Climate change adaptation at SBB Infrastructure: Process chain for adaptation by 2030”.

Following the presentations from the members, another session took place for invited speakers. Dr José Estaire, from the Spanish National Public Works Research Centre (CEDEX), opened the second set of presentations with “Railway tracks in desert zones” which highlighted the results of a study on the mechanical behaviour of ballast when it is clogged with sand. Then, Tomás Murillo, from Uriel y Asociados, a geotechnical engineering company, gave a presentation on “Sinkholes and railways” explaining sinkhole management as well as particular cases, such as the ‘Tren Maya’ in Mexico. Finally, Javier González, from the Universidad de Castilla la Mancha, discussed “Railway platform piping failure assessments in the context of culvert risk analysis and climate change”. The day came to a close with an interactive final session where the RERA-Temp experts decided which project-related topics were of the greatest concern to them, so that the project’s future steps could be established.

The purpose of the group is to publish the main outcomes of the two projects. These have now been compiled in the respective intermediate reports, with a joint intermediate deliverable being drafted in the upcoming months.

For more information, please contact Jesús Palma


and/or Francisco Cabrera


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