Cranfield students help Network Rail to tackle future flooding

Jul 02, 2014

They have created a flood risk model that will allow Network Rail bosses to predict flood risk areas in the future.

The work was commissioned after significant disruption to rail services and infrastructure in 2012-13, the second wettest year on record. Networ Rail paid £136 million in compensation to train operators.

The model uses a bespoke analytical technique to collate the different model inputs. Cranfield developed a web portal and 3D visualisation system to help Network Rail engineers to access to flood risk profiles, flooding alerts and other data.

Network Rail head of analysis and reporting Jon Drea said: “The extreme weather we faced earlier in the year presented significant challenges in trying to keep trains running. We worked with Cranfield students to develop ways in which we could turn information about our assets into valuable intelligence that would allow front line staff to understand the risk of flooding across the network.”

The students also drew on environmental factors such as meteorology, soil hydrology, land use and surface water run-off, the team were able to develop a flood risk model that enables Network Rail to predict more accurately potential risk areas in the future.

Dr Stephen Hallett, who led the project for Cranfield University, said:  “This project has provided Network Rail with a powerful methodology for undertaking integrated flood risk assessment, which could now potentially be extended to other parts of the network beyond the case study areas, as well as to other types of incident – landslips or embankment failures, for example.

“Overall, the techniques and tools developed during this project could contribute usefully to managing the rail network and related national critical infrastructure.” 

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