Delivering a Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge Pipeline for Resilient Future Mobility

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


Public transport is the cornerstone of modern society, enabling people to access education, employment, healthcare, leisure activities, and more. However, public transport can be disrupted by extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall or extreme heat, which are increasing in frequency and intensity under our changing climate. Longer-term, transport systems may be impacted by more gradual changes such as a different future climate that requires different operating thresholds for infrastructure assets, or sea level rise that makes coastal infrastructure no longer viable. It is therefore essential that our infrastructure is resilient to current and future weather and climate hazards. Access to resilient public transport is crucial to all society, but in particular those with a low income, ethnic minorities, the elderly, women, and other marginalised communities. Equal socioeconomic opportunities can be facilitated by resilient public transport.

Worryingly, despite the urgent need for engineers and other transport practitioners to understand and address the need for climate change adaptation, the topic is not routinely taught within Higher Education curricula. Although national transport providers such as Network Rail have produced world-leading Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation (WRCCA) plans, the knowledge is siloed within the WRCCA team, and not widespread across the organisation. Excepting Transport for London, there are no regional-level adaptation plans for light rail or urban metro systems. For a journey to be climate resilient, the start and end of every journey must be resilient, not just the trunk route. The recent third Climate Change Risk Assessment report for the UK (2021) highlighted that the adaptation gap had increased since the 2017 second report, as a consequence of inaction. Adapting early reduced future costs.

Education and skills building is therefore urgently required across all career stages to enable transport practitioners to understand how to adapt their infrastructure to current weather and future climate change. Consequently, this Knowledge Exchange (KE) Fellowship will deliver a Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Knowledge Pipeline between Higher Education (HE) and professional training, to improve national and regional capability and ensure resilient future mobility.


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Description "Knowledge Exchange for Climate Resilient Transport Infrastructure" Presentation at the Transport Research Board Annual Meeting 2023 Washington DC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to present on the topic of climate change and transport broadly at the Transport Research Boards Annual Meeting in Washington DC. This is an international conference with over 10,000 delegates, the session audience was around 75 people from a wide variety of backgrounds. As I do not have research results yet from my project I presented on actions to be taken to undertake more effective knowledge exchange within the context of improving the resilience of infrastructure. The first action relates to this project directly, education and training, whilst the other four are linked indirectly. The presentation was well received by the audience with a number of attendees reporting that it was very insightful and had made them think about how they approach things in their work. In particular one of these people is the head of sustainability and climate change at Amtrak an American railway business. We had further discussions in a separate call including about the topic of the presentation. Other interested parties included consultancies and academics. The presentation successfully influenced a wide array of people across the audience. I have also shared the slides publicly on social media where they have had interest. As this was successful I will likely deliver this presentation again as it can support improved knowledge exchange across many groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023