Network Rail to recruit extra 400 drainage engineers

Network Rail will channel £2.8bn of its total spend over the next five years into helping the railways better cope with extreme weather and climate change.

The weather resilience programme will see Network Rail recruit almost 400 extra drainage engineers to increase the care and maintenance of its drainage assets to handle heavier rainfall.

The infrastructure operator set out its plans to better cope with climate change as it entered its £43bn CP7 spending period yesterday.

Network Rail will also ramp up investment in looking after thousands of miles of drains, cuttings and embankments promising a work boom for piling and groundworks firms.

Plan to help combat major flooding like that in February near Rotherham in South Yorkshire

More than 20,000 cuttings and embankment will receive attention with over 300 miles being strengthened through renewal and refurbishment and over 900 miles seeing planned maintenance.

More than 600,000 metres of drains will be built or rebuilt.

Network Rail aims to improve remote digital monitoring, fitting more ‘smart’ movement sensors to cuttings and embankments to raise the alarm before a full landslip.

The CP7 plan (at 2022/23 prices) for England, Wales and Scotland amounts to £42.8bn compared to £43bn in CP6.

Network Rail said the spending plan would amount a 6% increase in regions’ expenditure between CP6 and CP7.

Breakdown of £44bn CP7 spend

£19.3bn on renewals (replacing old assets with new as well as investing in other capital expenditure to create a railway fit for the future e.g. digital signalling)
£12.6bn on maintenance (day-to-day upkeep of current assets) with regions spending 6% more on maintenance activity compared with CP6
£5.3bn on support functions (things like safety & standards, timetabling, IT, HR)
£4.4bn on operations (things like signalling, stations, network controls)
£1.8bn ‘risk fund’ (a pot to be used as and when to cope with significant unforeseen events)

Andrew Haines, chief executive, said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge our railway faces. The extreme weather of the past year that has seen an unprecedented 14 named storms, has taken its toll on our railway – with experts predicting more of the same to come. We are responding to that challenge with a huge investment in making our railway more resilient and better performing for rail users during such events.

“We can never completely ‘weatherproof’ our railway, but we can be better prepared and mitigate the worst that Mother Nature throws at us, now, and into the future, to keep passengers and services safe and moving.”


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