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Climate change could affect half of South West rail lines



Climate change and the associated increased risk of flooding in the UK could threaten up to half of the South West rail lines, according to an internal report at Network Rail.

The UK has been ranked among the countries where flooding poses the greatest risk to economic output, research published at the beginning of the year found. The risk is higher because of high population density and many commercial centres, private properties and infrastructure being located in areas that are at risk of flooding.

The Network Rail report, which has been seen by the BBC, states that 42% of primary rail routes in the South West could be disrupted as extreme weather events become more frequent. It adds that Network Rail is currently developing a “climate change adaption strategy” worth millions of pounds.

Speaking to the BBC, the chairman of the South West Peninsula Rail Task Force, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter said, “I didn’t realised just how vulnerable the main rail lines were.

“I am concerned. This means we have to lobby the government even harder to make sure our vital train links are protected.”

The findings follow last winter’s storms, which severely damaged the Dawlish train line in February. The line connects West Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK and was shut until early April.

Photo: 96tommy via Flickr 

Further reading:

Extreme weather and flooding dampen National Rail profits

HS3 northern rail link given green light

Sustainable transport: Scottish campaigners call for ‘rail revolution’

UK weather: south-west braced for torrential downpours

UK summer storms to be followed by 30C heat and sunny weather