At Asia Pacific Rail 2024, rail experts of global sustainable development consultancy Arup discussed the future of rail in Asia. 

They highlighted the importance of future-proofing railways against climate change at this premier event, held in Bangkok on 29-30 May, which gathered rail leaders across the region. The event attracted nearly 3,800 attendees and over 200 exhibitors.

During the opening keynote session, TC Chew, Global Rail Leader at Arup, discussed ideas for ‘Unleashing Asia’s next generation of rail infrastructure’ with leaders from top rail organisations. He also emphasised the urgent need to make rail networks resilient against the impacts of extreme weather due to climate change.

Arup’s Rail Resilience Framework outlines a proactive, whole-system approach to resilience planning across three key dimensions: assets, operations and ecosystems; leadership and strategy development; and the wider impacts on economy and society. It sets out clear goals and practical actions to achieve enduring resilience across rail networks. The framework also highlights the huge toll that extreme weather events have on railways, communities and cities. By adopting a holistic response, we can ensure that solutions and actions withstand a wide range of impacts, enhancing safety and reliability in daily rail services. 

While transport networks continue to drive economic growth, its role as a catalyst for decarbonisation and sustainable development should also be emphasised.

To tackle increasing urban transport congestion, evolving travel behaviours, climate change challenges and rapid technological advancements, innovation and collaboration are key to shaping a better future for rails.

Three leaders from Arup spoke at the Asia Pacific Rail 2024 on major topics in railway development:

  • Manpreet Mann, Thailand Rail Systems Lead, on ‘Realtime data transmission and management for predictive analytics’;

  • Alice Reis, Australasia Rail Business Leader, on ‘Paving the way for resilient rail’; and

  • David Moran, Director of Digital Services in Transport, Asia-Pacific, on ‘Better data for better railways: A whole lifecycle approach’

In face of the climate crisis, it is essential that rail resilience planning becomes integral to all investment decisions so that rail operators can continue to run the quality services their passengers expect. Railways have enormous potential for reducing global transport emissions and combatting climate change, but this is only possible if they can cope with the effects of extreme weather we are already experiencing. To accommodate and attract more passengers, proactive steps must be taken to build climate resilience, without delay.

TC Chew

Global Rail Leader, Arup