This paper focuses on the resilience of rail freight operations when affected by extreme weather events. Such events, most likely linked to climate change, are becoming more common and it is vital to mitigate their effects on freight transport activity. Based on a British case study of rail network disruption resulting from a key line closure in early-2016, the analysis considers the impacts on rail freight service provision and the wider supply chains.
Following a review of the relevant literature, the case study is analysed using data from a combination of sources including an annual rail freight database, open access real-time train running data, observation surveys and stakeholder interviews. This reveals widespread consequences of the disruption, with fewer freight trains operated than normal, and longer and less punctual journeys for those which ran. However, despite the considerable disruption during the period of the line closure itself, there has been no discernible long-term impact on the rail freight flows which were impacted by the closure. The insight provided by the analysis is used to make a series of recommendations to the rail industry and policy makers.