TRL leads new project to help European road operators address climate change

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The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has begun a unique €450,000 (US$491,650) research project to help European road operators better address the impacts of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Following a successful competitive bid, TRL is leading a consortium of six partners to deliver the two-year DeTECToR (Decision-support Tools for Embedding Climate Change Thinking on Roads) project. The project is part of the Conference of European Directors of Roads’ (CEDR) Transnational Road Research Program, ‘Call 2015 Climate Change: From Desk to Road’, and is funded by Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Austria. DeTECToR will produce practical tools and guidance documents, enabling road operators to better integrate climate change considerations in decision making and procurement. These include a cost-benefit tool that will use climate projections and asset information to enable the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of different adaptation actions.

According to a recent report from the European Commission on the impact of climate change on transport, weather stresses currently represent 30-50% of road maintenance costs in Europe, equating to between €8-13bn (US$8.7-14.2bn) every year. Without action, more frequent extreme weather due to climate change could result in even greater costs for road transport infrastructures, making the DeTECToR project extremely relevant. DeTECToR will also produce a self-assessment tool to help embed climate change mitigation and adaptation into procurement. With most transport operators contracting out their maintenance, integrating consideration of carbon reduction and climate change adaptation into procurement process is a vital part of addressing climate change. The DeTECToR tool will help operators to assess their processes and identify areas for action.

TRL brings a wealth of experience and relevant sector knowledge to the project. It will draw on its national climate change adaptation work in both the road and rail sectors. A series of pilot studies will be delivered to trial the guidance and tools, including one in the UK conducted by TRL. Road operators will be engaged throughout the project, through surveys, interviews and workshops, to ensure the tools and guidance produced meets their needs. The DeTECToR outputs will be an important new resource for road operators, helping them to address some of the most challenging issues relating to climate change.

“DeTECToR represents a major step-change in embedding climate change adaptation in the decision making of road operators. It will provide the road industry with advanced tools and guidance based on the very latest research to help them improve the resilience of their networks,” explained Dr Sarah Reeves, TRL’s coordinator of the project. “This is an exciting new project for TRL, and will enable us to build on our national climate change adaptation work in both the road and rail sector. Climate change remains an important area of work for us as we support clients in dealing with its increasing impact on their operations, as well as meeting their carbon reduction targets.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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