Railway track

Explanation of the problem

Due to heat, the temperature of rails significantly increases, causing the rails to expand. This expansion can lead to the bending of the rails, also known as rail track buckling (‘spoorspatting’ in Dutch). Rail track buckling poses a risk of derailment and sometimes results in the failure of the signalling system. This is particularly problematic for rail managers (such as Prorail (Dutch rail track infrastructure manager) or municipal transportation companies) and for municipalities with tram or light rail infrastructure. Indirectly, this is a problem for rail users, such as the transportation sector, which may experience delays and related damages.

In addition to heat-induced rail track buckling, problems can arise from switches that no longer function properly and bridges that fail to close. There is also a risk of overheating in the electrical system; the railway system is highly connected and dependent on energy and ICT for security and communication.

Information and maps for better understanding

Basic maps according to the standardized stress test


Additional maps

  • Map showing the number of summer or tropical days now and in the future (Climate Impact Atlas) → provides an indication of the increase in problems related to rails.
  • Locations of the rail infrastructure and identification of vulnerable points in the transportation network → provides insight into the cascade effects of disruptions in routes on various users.

Some measures and guidelines

  • Increase rail inspections during hot days.
  • Lay rail tracks with a different tension during construction (resistant to higher temperatures).
  • Develop alternative routes in case vulnerable points or bottlenecks are affected.
  • Establish priorities for (emergency) measures in case of rail problems.