Climate Adaptation

In 2014, Amtrak established a multidisciplinary Climate Resilience Task Group to explore potential climate risks and respond with recommendations. Since 2015, we conducted three assessments, and the results indicated the likeliest of Amtrak’s climate vulnerabilities are related to storm surges, precipitation and sea level rise, although extreme temperatures and mudslides also impact service. In 2020, Amtrak’s Board of Directors set a corporate goal to develop and implement a Climate Resilience Strategic Plan to determine how Amtrak can best absorb climatic disruptions through identification of prioritized actions.

The 2022 Climate Vulnerability Assessment (VA) for the Northeast Corridor (NEC) has been drafted in response to this initiative to guide the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Amtrak operations, assets, staff, and external stakeholders are subject to the ongoing and worsening impacts of climate change. Between 2006 and 2019, Amtrak lost more than $127 million from 450+ weather disruptions, resulting in an estimated $220 million in projected revenue losses in the coming decade. The VA focuses on the impacts of heat, precipitation, wind, and sea level rise for two future planning scenarios centered on the years 2050 and 2100. An analysis of NEC climatic trends points to each of these climate stressors becoming more severe along the corridor.

Because climate impacts can affect every aspect of Amtrak’s business, we’re taking a multi-disciplinary approach to leverage the information gathered during the vulnerability assessments and explore where immediate actions will be most impactful. Going forward, we plan to:

  • Incorporate climate considerations and vulnerability scores into the enterprise asset management system for capital planning, project prioritization, maintenance and State of Good Repair.
  • Review and adapt engineering design standards to incorporate resilience and long-term sustainability in the face of changing weather patterns and operating conditions; and
  • Identify and include adaptation measures to protect our assets and maintain reliable service.