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Talking transport: Climate Exchange double bill

Climate Exchange
Thursday 16 February 2017, 13.00-14.00
Clothworkers North Building (G.12)
Dr Eva Heinen and Dr Fleur Loveridge

The impact of climate change on railway earth structures    (Dr Fleur Loveridge,  School of Civil Engineering)

Being pioneers of railway development in the 19th century has left the UK with a unique railway legacy. Embankments and cuttings that were built 150 years ago still support the modern network. These historic earth structures were built rapidly, lacking the modern concept of design and before current scientific understanding of soil mechanics was developed.  As a consequence embankments and cuttings are often steeper than modern practice, may be more susceptible to water infiltration and often contain hidden defects. These factors mean that railway earth structures will show a potentially different response to climate change compared with embankments and cuttings supporting modern infrastructure.

Two factors are particularly important for climate change impacts on railway earthworks. The first is that future drier summers will lead to increased seasonality resulting in larger magnitude cycles of wetting and drying of clay embankments, potentially leading to degradation of soil strength.  The second factor is that increased storminess and reduction in return periods for extreme events may drive flooding, scour and washout of earth structures. With around 10,00km of railway earth structures in the UK, managing changing vulnerability is a very big challenge.  The question is whether derailments due to washout, like the one at Watford last September, will become more common?

Individual behavioural change in mode choice (Dr Eva Heinen, Institute for Transport Studies)

Reducing car use and encouraging people to walk, cycle or use public transport seems almost impossible to achieve, despite extensive academic and policy attention. Change may be effected, but there are calls for a different methodological approach and a focus that goes beyond the emphasis on theories concerning rational choice. Current research seeks to explain differences in behaviour between individuals. Differences in behaviour within individuals (intrapersonal variability) are ignored, such as variation in destination and variation in transport mode use. We conceptualized that people using multiple transportation modes for different journeys, as opposed to only one, are more likely to change their travel behaviour. Findings from two studies will be presented on whether the level of variability in individuals’ behaviour affects individual willingness to change and actual change in travel behaviour.


Dr Fleur Loveridge is a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and University Academic Fellow based in Civil Engineering. She has over 15 years’ experience in civil engineering practice and academia specialising in geotechnical engineering. While a consulting engineer based at Mott MacDonald Fleur contributed to the investigation, assessment and remedial works design for a number of problematic earth structures sites for Network Rail, London Underground and the Highways Agency (now Highways England). She also lead the applied research and development project “Seasonal Preparedness” for Network Rail, investigating the effects of vegetation and climate interactions of slope stability and earth structure performance. In academia Fleur has been part of the iSMART project (Infrastructure slopes Sustainable Management And Resilience Assessment) which is developing models of transient water movement in earth structures under a range of current and future environmental scenarios to contribute to a more reliable, cost effective, safer and more sustainable transport system. She is currently supervising PhD research into the changing vulnerabilities of Network Rails earth structures to extreme weather events.

Dr Eva Heinen is a University Academic Fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies. Her research focusses on: Determinants of active travel, particularly cycling; Behavioural change; ‘Soft factors’ and individual transport choices; Evaluating intervention in the built environment on travel behaviour; Variability and stability of behaviour and has received several research grant/fellowship from the Dutch research Council. Before Leeds she worked at the University of Cambridge in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology and Center of Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), as well as Delft University of Technology where she held a fellowship of the Dutch Research Council (VENI) on travel behaviour change. Prior to that she was an Assistant Professor of Infrastructure Planning and Mobility at the Department of Spatial Planning & Environment at the University of Groningen. She received her PhD on the topic of ‘Bicycle commuting’ in 2011 from Delft University of Technology and continued working there as a researcher. Before her academic career, she worked at the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute of Spatial Research (RPB) and the Transport Department of the Dutch Embassy in Berlin. Eva is involved in international scientific networks and organizer/co-organizer of paper reviews and programming for two major conferences (WCTR & TRB).

Directions to venue: facing away from Parkinson steps, follow the path to your right then turn right underneath the link building, go straight ahead, just past the Great Hall (on the right) to Clothworkers Court. Clothworkers North Building is at the rear of this courtyard. Go through main door (South entrance); the lecture theatre is the first on your left. Campus map