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Dutch railways not prepared for climate change: ProRail

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Dutch railways not prepared for climate change: ProRail

NS train at the Eindhoven Station
Stock photo of a NS train at the Eindhoven Stationsashk0DepositPhotosDeposit Photos

If substantial investment is not made into climate-proofing the Dutch rail network, the consequences will be felt in the form of more rail traffic disruptions in the near future, according to ProRail. Especially extreme heat and heavy rain can cause problems, Onno Hazelaar and Stefan Jak of ProRail said to Trouw.

"Extreme weather conditions will become normal for the future," Hazelaar said. And the tracks are not ready to cope with that. According to ProRail, at least one billion euros is needed to make the track resistant to heavy rain and heat. And even with that investment, the Netherlands is "far from finished", Hazelaar said.

Extremely hot days can cause the metal on the track to expand, and that can cause the tracks to warp, Hazelaar said. "Problems can also arise with rail bridges." Air conditioners on trains will have to work overtime, which can cause overloading. "Overloaded air conditioners can cause the overhead line to be unable to cope with the demand for electricity," Jak said. "If the copper of the overhead lines becomes too hot, you may have to deal with a overhead line break."

Heavy rainfall can lead to flooding in the electricity boxes that regulate the safety of the level crossings and trains. "Then those installations no longer work," Jak said. 

That climate change will lead to an increase in the number of disruptions, can be expected, according to the rail manager. But how big that increase will be is up to the politicians and how much they decide to invest to make the track stable. "If you want to tackle 7 thousand kilometers of rail network, that is quite a bit. But if you do nothing, the number of disruption will increase."


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