Welcome to FUTURENET
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To fully assess the future resilience of the UK transport network it is necessary to take into account the likely technology and infrastructure changes, as well as changes in climate and extreme weather events. Future Resilient Transport Networks (FUTURENET) is a four year research project, jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council as a part of the “Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate” programme, which aims to provide such a vision and tools to assess and plan for the resilience of transport systems in future.
FUTURENET is led by the University of Birmingham with partners from Loughborough and Nottingham Universities, HR Wallingford, the British Geological Survey, and TRL Limited. The project actively involves a wider stakeholder group which includes Network Rail, Highways Agency, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and consultants WSP.
Current discussion about transport and climate change focuses on the impact of transport on climate change. FUTURENET recognises that climate change also has an impact on transport, and can be addressed as an engineering dimension derived from the interaction between climate design, weather events and the physical network, and a socio-economic dimension derived from the interaction between weather and climate and the patterns of transport demand. FUTURENET integrates both in assessing the future resilience of the UK transport system. In doing so, it “joins up” traditionally separated agendas and addresses the inter-sectoral consistency of planning assumptions. While it is impossible to accurately predict exactly what will happen in the future, it is possible to model a range of plausible scenarios both in transport infrastructure and climate to address the concern for resilience.
The overall aim of FUTURENET is to help answer the questions: what will be the nature of the UK transport system in 2050, both in terms of its physical characteristics and its usage, and what will be the shape of the transport network in 2050 that will be most resilient to climate change? This will be achieved through a series of targeted objectives, including;
- the development of possible UK transport scenarios,
- the development of conceptual models of weather / climate induced failure mechanisms of transport systems, together with meteorological and climatic trigger levels where these can be identified
- the development of a modelling methodology that will integrate the work of the first two objectives, and allow the effect of climate change on the resilience of transport networks to be systematically studied
- the development of generic methods that can be applied to other transport corridors and the dissemination of the results amongst stakeholders, policy makers and practitioners
The work will impact on the decision making of government (local and national), transport planners, transport managers and professional engineers. It will provide them with knowledge, methods and tools which will improve their decision making with regards to anticipated changes in climate, technology, social behaviour and economies. The benefit will be an improved quality of life and higher levels of wealth for the citizens of the United Kingdom relative to that which would otherwise be the case if the transport network evolved without the FUTURENET project outcomes.