EU Science Hub

Transport infrastructure

Transport infrastructure in Europe could be affected by climate change through the impact of higher temperatures, altered precipitation patterns and sea level rise. Each of these impacts will affect the costs of operating and maintaining transport infrastructure assets such as roads, bridges and ports. Additional expenditure will consist of a mixture of maintenance and repair costs and pre-emptive adaptation measures.

Methodology

The impact methodology is documented in Nemry and Demirel (2012). The assessment examines the impacts of the expected climate of 2040-2070 and 2070-2100 on current road and rail infrastructure.

The following climate-related impacts for the period 2070-2100 have been estimated:

  • cost of upgrading road asphalt binder to cope with increased heat stress;
  • effects of changes in extreme rainfall patterns and floods on the cost of road infrastructure;
  • effects of changes in winter conditions on the cost of road infrastructure;
  • effect of changes in flooding on the cost associated with bridge scour (damage related to increased river flow);
  • effect of heat-induced rail track buckling.

Results

At EU level, the Reference run in the 2070-2100 period is expected to have the following annual impacts on transport infrastructure compared to the control period:

  • an additional cost of around €190 million for asphalt binder upgrade;
  • a cost reduction of €330 million due to reduced winter damages;
  • an additional cost of around €300 million due to extreme precipitation damage;
  • an additional cost of €380 million for protecting bridges against scour (€540 million in the period 2040-2070);
  • cost of around €35 million from speed limits imposed to prevent rail track buckling (estimated on a value-of-time basis).

In addition, the effect of a 1 metre sea level rise is estimated to place transport infrastructure assets with a value of €18.5 billion at risk of permanent or temporary inundation.

References

Nemry F and Demirel H (2012).
Impacts of Climate Change on Transport: A focus on road and rail transport infrastructures.
European Commission Joint Research Centre, JRC Scientific and Policy Reports. doi:10.2791/15504
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