Network Rail weather mitigations ‘not appropriate’ before Stonehaven tragedy | New Civil Engineer
Network Rail did not have “appropriate” weather forecasting and earthwork failure mitigation measures in place before the Stonehaven tragedy sparked reforms, according to Dame Julia Slingo.
Following the derailment which killed three people, Network Rail commissioned a weather advisory taskforce – led by Slingo – and an earthworks management taskforce – led by Lord Robert Mair – which each considered how the railway can better cope with extreme weather.
Speaking at NCE’s Future of Floods conference, Slingo said that traditional tools used by Network Rail to monitor ground conditions were simply not good enough.
She said: “If we are going to get to grips with this challenge we are going to have to have a much better sense about what is going on hydrologically at the level of the railway track.
“Network Rail has traditionally used things such as soil moisture indices which are modelling products or they have used an old system called Morex which gives you something about soil moisture deficit.
“Neither of them are appropriate for understanding the risk here.”
She added: “In my report we actually very much highlighted a new product called Relative Wetness […] which takes the hydrology of soil types [..] and provides operational, timely estimates of the wetness of the soil across the country at the kilometre scale […] and gives a really fantastic map of where the biggest earthworks risks are or risks of potential landslides.”