On 29 June, torrential rains in Berlin caused disruptions on three U-Bahn (metro) lines. More than 140 litres of rain per square metre were recorded in less than 24 hours in one area of the city – double the monthly average, leaving ankle-deep water levels in many streets.
A total of 396 train services were cancelled due to flooding. Line U9 was the most affected, with closures of sections in the city centre between 19:15 on 29 June and 7:15 the next day, as water levels in tunnels reached the top part of the rail tracks. From the next morning, service was gradually restored with single-track operations and speed restrictions due to affected signalling systems.
Operator BVG was able to organise substitution transport on U9 using taxis and buses. On another affected line, U1, buses bridged the closed sections. No substitution services, however, could be organised on line U3, which was also partially closed for almost 12 hours.
Two days earlier, 2,000 km south-east of Berlin, in Spain, heavy downpour interrupted tram traffic in the city of Zaragoza for one hour as part of a road found itself under water.
On 9 July, it was the Paris metro that suffered disruptions due to rainstorms, with the interruption of line 2 between the stations Barbès-Rochechouart and Père-Lachaise, and stops at other stations on the network having to be skipped.
These events are a reminder of the threat that heavy rains, but also other extreme weather such as storms, poses for rail operations. There is a need for local rail companies to prepare themselves and anticipate such events to limit the level of damage and disruption.
UITP is organising a workshop on flooding preparedness for local rail taking place 25-26 September in Berlin, the scene of last week’s flooding. This event will feature senior representatives from rail agencies with a flooding record and experience in flood impact management. Case studies will include the effects of Hurricane Sandy in New York City in 2012 and flooding in Prague in 2002 and 2013, as well as the experience from Cologne, Dresden and Bangkok, among other cities. Speakers from Paris and Berlin will also describe their protection and preparedness strategies, with a half-day technical visit of the German capital’s transit system.