ScotRail Climate Change Adaptation Strategy


We appreciate that a changing climate will present challenges to maintaining a train operating service. In addition to cutting our emissions to reduce the effects of climate change, we will ensure that we are aware of emerging risks to sustaining our ability to run our services in the face of long term climate change, with the likelihood of increased extreme events.

We are committed to ensuring that we remain ready to run trains where it is safe to do so in the face of these extreme events. In doing so, we use no more natural resources than necessary.

The following note describes our strategy and processes to overcome these risks, where this is possible during the current franchise.


Our strategic objective is to maintain a normal train service in the face of extreme climate change events where this is possible. In addition, it is our objective to manage our processes, as part of from now to ensure this happens.

Whilst we acknowledge that situations might arise that prevent us from running services, we will use our best endeavours to ensure that we recover to provide a normal service as soon as possible. We will also ensure that where services can be run, that we are fully prepared to do this.

This is our contribution to a maintaining sustainable Scottish transport network, consistent with Scotland’s national outcomes.


Our strategy to achieve these objectives are that we will make well informed, targeted investment in our systems and processes to keep Scotland moving. Our decision making is based on a risk assessment using authoritative information, applied and adapted to our operations.

Climate information is obtained from a number of authoritative sources. We will work with these main stakeholders to boost our collective knowledge. We will apply this to our risk management process to guide decision making.

This collaborative approach extends to contributing to joint research with other industry sectors and transport groups into interdependency with other infrastructure providers with the common goal to build national resilience.

In some cases, we will meet the need to develop our processes as necessary to manage emerging risks.

Tactical plan

Our strategy is supported by a tactical plan, integrated into our Environmental Management Systems and subject to the plan-do-review philosophy that these are based on. The tactical plan addresses management of extreme events and probability of risks from analysing longer term trends.

We will continue to rely on Network Rail, our Alliance partner, whose plans are outlined in their “Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation (WRCCA) plan for Scotland Route” In their role as network operator, they have responsibility of maintaining track infrastructure, suitable for running our services and their plan sets out in detail the methods used to do this. How we work together is set out as follows:

Extreme Events- Weather forecast information is obtained from the Meteorological Office and over 120 Network Rail weather stations to inform our Alliance Extreme Weather Action Team (EWAT) on impending weather threats. There is an established and formal process for managing disruption during extreme weather related events, depending on the severity of the threat.

Longer Term Trends- As a responsible custodian of the ScotRail Franchise, we recognise the importance of gathering information to inform future managers to achieve these objectives in the future as well as spotting emerging short term risks. Our systems lay the foundation for future risk management for our successors.

Development of these systems extends to improving monitoring of climate related disruption events with the aim of identifying hot spots, to guide preventative action. Although direct corrective action may be outwith our control, our alliance with Network Rail allows us greater than ever influence to implement these.

We are part of a working group with other infrastructure providers to better understanding of our interdependency with them. At the time of writing, a research funding application is being prepared and we have committed our support to its aims of achieving this

Our tactical plan is dependent upon increasing our knowledge. As a train operator, we accept that this is the core business of other stakeholders in researching and providing this is vital. We will work with them, the main ones being:

  • UKCIP (formerly UK Climate Impacts Programme)
  • Adaptation Scotland
  • RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board)
  • ClimateXchange

This tactical plan will be reviewed formally by Top Management as part of ScotRail’s Environmental Management Systems.

The climate change plan is regularly reviewed and updated. To discuss this please contact The Head of Environment on 0141 555 4869.