The £2.8bn mega-project that will cause chaos but UK trains need to ‘stop major disaster’

Network Rail has issued a stark warning that it will cost billions of pounds to ensure Britain’s railways aren’t ravaged by extreme weather caused by climate change.

The state-owned company which manages the UK’s rail infrastructure, said it will plough £2.8 billion into the network over the next five years.

The spending will cover the cost of nearly 400 more drainage engineers, hundreds of operational staff to interpret weather forecasts and CCTV at sites at high risk of flooding.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge our railway faces.

“The extreme weather of the past year, that has seen an unprecedented 14 named storms, has taken its toll on our railway – with experts predicting more of the same to come.

“We are responding to that challenge with a huge investment in making our railway more resilient and better-performing for rail users during such events.

“We can never completely weatherproof our railway, but we can be better prepared and mitigate the worst that Mother Nature throws at us – now and into the future – to keep passengers and services safe and moving.”

Martin Frobisher, group safety and engineering director at Network Rail, told the Financial Times: “We’re definitely seeing the impact of climate change. It’s happening now, it’s real, and it is having a significant impact.”

This recently announced spending is just a slice of Network Rail’s £45.4 billion investment strategy for the five years, starting from April 1.

The company will sink £19.3 billion into replacing old assets with new ones, as well as investing in digital signalling amongst other things.

Network Rail gets most of its money from grants from the national and Scottish governments – £29.8 billion.

Mr Haines said: “Train performance has been suffering and the industry must come together and make this, and tackling climate change, our main focus.

“Our role is to deliver a safe railway that people can rely on, whatever the weather, with trains that turn up and arrive at their destination on time, and where passengers have confidence they are in safe hands.”

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