Climate services for the railway sector: A synthesis of adaptation information needs in Europe

Emmanuel M.N.A.N. Attoh*, Hasse Goosen, Merlijn van Selm, Eva Boon, Fulco Ludwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Given that climate variability and change present unprecedented challenges to the rail sector, efforts to produce relevant climate data/information for climate risk management and adaptive decision making in the rail sector are gaining traction. However, inadequate understanding of climate change impact and information needs raises several concerns for the sector. This paper addressed the question: What climate risk information services are needed to support the adaptation needs of the rail sector? Data from interviews, literature reviews, and workshops were used. The results show that changes in precipitation, temperature, sea-level rise, and thunderstorms are the top drivers of climate risk in the sector. Additionally, the need for tailor-made climate information to manage these changes is in high demand. Although insufficient, rail organizations use special protocols to manage climate risk. Understudied countries have operational and design standards formulated in metrics and codes related to specific critical weather conditions as part of their Natural Hazard Management process. However, desirable adjustments in the standards are currently based on past events rather than future climate conditions. Future climate change information is relevant for medium- to longer-term decisions, strategy, and policymaking. For operational and design standards, weather and climate information provided by national weather service agencies are used but they also refer to the European standards and databases. National level data/information is preferred for developing thresholds for standards yet pan-European level information is also relevant in filling in missing data gaps. Therefore, rail organizations operate on flexibility and a “use of best available data” policy. Understanding how climate information is used to support decision-making in the rail sector is by no means an easy task given the variety of decisions to be taken at different spatial and temporal scales. However, stakeholder engagement proved to be an important step to better inform tailor-made information that is user relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number968298
JournalFrontiers in Climate
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • climate services
  • Europe
  • railway


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