Azvi investigates the effects of climate change on transport infrastructures in a European-wide project


Azvi’s group of researchers, led by Domingo Pérez Mira, together with entities from Portugal, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Spain, are studying the implementation of a solid platform for the anticipation, management and mitigation of environmental risks in the road and rail infrastructure networks of the Atlantic Area within the project ‘Strengthening Infrastructure Risk Management in the Atlantic Area’ (Sirma).

Sirma began in April 2019, with a budget of two million euros from the Interreg Atlantic Area program and its completion is scheduled for March 2022, as explained in a statement by Azvi, in which it reports that its purpose is to “significantly improve the resilience of these infrastructures, in particular against the effects related to climate change “.

Transport infrastructure plays “an essential role for the socio-economic development of Europe”, as most of the transport of people and goods in this area is carried out by rail and road.

However, Azvi has pointed out that the performance of these infrastructures is directly affected by extreme natural phenomena and strong corrosion processes that result from the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, “which subjects these infrastructures to a great variety of risks” .

“Given that climate risks do not recognize borders and due to the great heterogeneity of the infrastructures of each country”, for Azvi it ​​is necessary to establish transnational cooperation and the creation of a common work structure for intervention and decision-making.

The researchers will use a systematic risk-based prevention and management methodology, developing a real-time process “to monitor the state of transport infrastructures.” It is also intended to strengthen the interoperability of the information systems in the Atlantic Area, taking into account the standardization of data and the specificities of each country.

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In this regard, Azvi has specified that in the railways of southern Europe that, in view of the increase in temperatures, there will be more cases of expansion in their rails and, consequently, “more difficulty in maintenance and service availability, which will increase direct and indirect costs. “

The railway in Ireland, for example, has suffered many floods, threatening the structural safety of bridges. In addition, the presence of routes in the maritime proximity “is a serious problem, due to the progressive increase in the level of sea water.”

The long-term result of this project will be to reduce the risk of extreme climatic effects on transport infrastructures, especially floods and fires.

Other projects that have previously addressed this issue have focused on the development of specific applications for roads, railways, bridges or tunnels, with limited efficiency, that is, they are not applicable to large-scale failures. “It becomes important that until now these applications have not been tested with infrastructure monitoring systems, which will be done now,” according to the researchers.

The project has the academic collaboration of the Universities of Minho, Dublin, Vigo, Nantes, Surrey and Birmingham. In the private sector, the partners involved are Azvi, SAU, Irish Rail and Infraestruturas de Portugal, SA. More information about this project can be found at ‘’.

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