Dutch train tracks need to be altered to withstand greater extremes of climate, such as heavier rainfall and long, hot spells, according to network infrastructure company ProRail.
The company, working with the Dutch transport ministry, believes large-scale changes are needed by 2050 so that trains will be more likely to run, whatever the weather.
‘The Dutch rail network has been built for a moderate, maritime climate with mild winters and relatively cool summers, and we take account of this in the way we maintain the tracks too,’ it points out. ‘But in recent years, we have already seen that the climate is changing. Rain showers are getting heavier, it is getting warmer and hot spells last longer. In these situations, the chance of problems on the track increases.’
Steel bars expand, for instance, electric poles can overheat or the track can flood. At the moment, these poor weather conditions only last for a handful of days a year, which means that 92.6% of Dutch trains ran on time in 2019.
However, ProRail says that billions of euros in investment are needed to weatherproof the tracks by 2050, where ‘the extreme will become normal’.
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