Network Rail is drawing up plans to reroute coastal railway lines that will be swept away by rising sea levels as it speeds up its climate preparations following last week’s heatwave.
The company, which owns tracks and stations across Britain, is starting to identify lines close to the coast most at risk of becoming swamped and considering options to mitigate the impact. These include fortifying sea defences and moving lines most under threat.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s director of safety and engineering, said the state-backed company is ranking areas on their risk and conducting modelling over concerns that sea levels will rise.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that 650km of railway line and 92 train stations will be at risk from coastal erosion this century.
Coastal erosion is expected to worsen from climate change causing sea levels to rise and wilder weather.
Experts have said tracks on the coast in south Devon, North Wales and Cumbria are among the most at risk.
Mr Frobisher said: “We either build sea defences on a scale that we haven’t seen before, we reroute lines that are close to the coast, or the country tolerates a level of reliability that’s way below what we get at the moment.
“The modelling that we’ve received shows a real point of inflection and real change in sea levels and coastal erosion… from 2050, we can see low lying railways being really exposed to coastal erosion.”