Future Resilient Transport Networks - FUTURENET

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Civil Engineering


Much current discussion about transport and climate change focuses on the impact of transport on climate change. Indeed, many mitigation measures are focussed upon the transport change, and many mitigation measures are focussed upon the transport sector. However, FUTURENET recognizes that climate change also has an impact on transport. This impact has two dimensions: an engineering dimension derived from the interaction between climate design, weather events and the physical network, and a socio-economic dimension derived from the interaction between weather and climate and the patterns of transport demand. FUTURENET integrates both in assessing the future resilience of the UK transport system. This interdisciplinary approach will assist stakeholders in adapting the transport network and increasing resilience of critical transport infrastructure. Specifically FUTURENET seeks to develop a number of scenarios for how the transport system in the UK might look in 2050, and will investigate the resilience of each of these scenarios to the effects of climate change. The investigation will be carried out through the five work packagesa) WP1- The development of possible UK transport scenarios for 2050, through detailed literature surveys and the results of a number of expert workshops.b) WP2 - Identification of route corridor for study and development of an inventory of infrastructure that covers the complete range of infrastructure for the chosen route.c) WP3 - Models of the failure modes of transport systems, which will identify existing models and thresholds for the effects of climate on transport systems, and will develop new models where there are gaps in knowledge.d) WP4- Model development and application, which will develop an overarching model framework that will combine the models identified in WP3 with climate change scenarios and the transport scenarios outlined in WP1, to enable the resilience of different types of transport network to be evaluated.e) WP5 - Generic Tools and Dissemination, through which the results of the project will be made available in an accessible form to a wide variety of stakeholders, and the model of WP4 made available for application to other route corridors.FUTURENET brings together a wide variety of academic expertise spanning the engineering, environmental and social sciences, together with a diverse group of stakeholders in the transport industry. It has the potential both to develop a deeper understanding of the underlying science on the effects of climate change on transport systems and to provide information and useful tools on how such systems can be made more resilient.


10 25 50

publication icon
Quinn A D (2014) Moving towards a resilient transport network for the future: integrating meteorology, engineering and social perspectives in World Weather Open Science Conference 2014 August 16-21, 2014 Montréal, Canada

Description The basic approach taken by the project team has been to build an integrated framework to model system behaviour for a range of climatic variables at the local and the route level, which integrates stakeholder policy and commercial drivers, socio-economic considerations, traveller preferences with climate models and weather predictions and engineering models of specific climatic effects on road and rail transport, and to use this framework for a consideration of the resilience of the network under different climate scenarios. Specifically the project has the following components.
• The identification of a specific route to be used as the case study for the project. An evaluation of a number of routes led to the choice of the London to Glasgow corridor for the study, as this is economically important, is served by a variety of transport modes, and passes through a number of different climate regions.
• The development of a model framework in the CORE systems engineering architecture.
• A methodology for the development of social and transport scenarios to use in the model framework, that draw upon social scenario development and a thorough study of current and likely future stakeholder requirements.
• The inclusion within the model framework of traveller choices and perspectives, which were obtained from a major travel survey of the London-Glasgow route.
• The development of a number of specific physical process models to predict resilience, in terms of loss of capacity and route closure, of specific route sections , for example - landslip models; pluvial and fluvial flood models; bridge scour models, track buckling models. The generation of weather time series for use with these physical process models that encompass the range of climatic variables of relevance to the specific situations. The generation of weather time series models for the complete route, based on the UKCP09 climate scenarios and the UKCP09 weather generator. The integration of the physical process models and the generated weather events to enable the resilience of an individual journey from London to Glasgow to be calculated in terms of the overall probability of delay or failure of the journey.
• The use of the integrated model framework to investigate the effect of potential changes in climate on probability of journey failure.

A number of issues arose in the development of the model framework that have broad implications. These are as follows.
• It became clear during the course of the project that the quality of the data that is held concerning asset location and condition and network performance is very variable across the road and rail networks, and in many instances is not fit for the proper determination of local, regional and national resilience. This issue could be addressed by a more systematic approach to the collection of certain essential data in a more systematic way.
• The integration of local physical process models into large scale network based models is far from straightforward.
• The UKCP09 weather generator produces weather time series for specific 5km squares, but does not produce the correct spatial correlation between adjacent squares. For the route modelling that was carried out in FUTURENET, which is at a national scale, the weather was generated at one square and the various parameters scaled for other parts of the country using empirical scaling factors. The inadequacy of this approach is accepted, and more work is required by the meteorological community to produce weather time series with correct spatial correlations. This is of importance not just for transport networks, but also for the study of other large scale networks such as power supply systems.
Exploitation Route The methodologies developed by the project will be of use to transport planners, infrastructure operators and policy makers
Sectors Environment,Transport

Description The work on FUTURENET has highlighted a number of issues of methodology that have, quite properly, become of research interest in their own right. There have however also been more direct applications of some of the findings from the FUTURENET project. Of particular relevance to the Birmingham aspects of the project, the FUTURENET work and methodology has informed the work that was carried out on the railway industry TRACCA project that was investigating ways of improving the weather and climate resilience of railways, and which has made a number of very direct recommendations that are being considered by the industry, The methodology has also been used in two very applied University based projects - MOWE-IT funded by the EU which has produced detailed guidance notes for improving the resilience of European transport networks, and a GCRF EPSRC institutional fund project to expand the work on weather resilience into the developing world.
Sector Construction,Environment,Transport
Description EU Framework 6 - MOWE-IT
Amount € 2,400,000 (EUR)
Organisation Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 12/2012 
End 12/2014
Description Institutional GCRF funding - Transport Resilience to extreme events in Developing Countries
Amount £41,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 04/2017
Description RSSB - Tomorrows Railway Adaptation to Climate Change
Amount £1,500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Rail Safety and Standards Board 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2012 
End 01/2015
Description FUTURENET Academic Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of FUTURENET to academic audience.

Presentations to academic researchers

Further discussions re FUTURENET methodology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description FUTURENET Stakeholders dissemination event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination to senior stakeholders.

Meeting at IMechE

Dissemination to senior stakeholders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description FUTUURENET Talk to Climate Change Seminar in Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Questions, discussions, e mail follow up

Ongoing e mail discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014