Knowing how infrastructure will behave when put under climatic pressure is important information for urban planners.
Gauging if railway tracks will buckle in heatwaves
CSIRO is assisting urban planners with information about how infrastructure such as railway tracks will behave when put under climatic pressure.
24 June 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011
Railway networks are essential transportation infrastructure for Australian cities.
Extreme heat events, such as the heat wave in January 2009, caused buckling of some railway tracks in Melbourne city causing service disruption of the networks.
During the heat wave the daily maximum temperatures exceeded 45 °C for three consecutive days – climate change predictions for the region indicate a future of more frequent and more intense extreme heatwaves in Australia.
CSIRO researchers are assessing the heatwave hazard for rail track buckling failure to assist railway authorities to plan and manage railway network services.
The reliability assessment uses computer models to assess the buckling failure probability in Melbourne.
CSIRO researchers are assessing the heatwave hazard for rail track buckling failure to assist railway authorities.
The models consider the effects of important factors such as the effective buckling lengths and buckling modes of the rails, as well as the rail temperatures at the time of installation and during heatwaves.
This science-based method predicted that the probability of buckling failure of railway tracks in Melbourne under a heatwave is about two in 100 000.
This prediction matched with the number of railway lengths that did buckle along the Melbourne railway network during the January 2009 heatwave.
The results from this work, including the good agreement between the science prediction and the observed buckling, provide an important proof of concept for this method which can be applied to other railway situations.
Read more about Preparing for the impacts of climate change: assessing the vulnerability of our cities.