Natural hazards and climate change.
To protect itself more effectively against natural hazards and the effects of climate change, SBB has adopted a specific natural hazards strategy. This involves managing the forest cover and man-made barriers that protect its infrastructure, as well as obtaining status reports from specialist staff.
SBB believes in forward-looking natural hazard management that is based on specific hazard scenarios and anticipates potential consequences. With the aid of innovative technologies such as ground-penetrating radar and satellite data, experts at SBB can detect and closely monitor changes in terrain or rock displacement at particularly exposed locations. Future changes due to climate change are critically analysed and integrated into risk-based planning.
Forest as a "protective shield".
Along a total track length of some 340 km, forests protect railway tracks against avalanches, rockfall and other natural hazards.Of the 7,300 hectares of protective forest, 900 are owned by SBB. Only thick, biologically diverse forest comprising a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees offers adequate protection against rockfall. And only dense forest with no large gaps can effectively prevent avalanches from gaining momentum. However, this protective effect comes at a cost. SBB invests some CHF 2 million annually in regular care and maintenance for these protective forests.
In the absence of protective forest, protection is provided by around 4600 man-made structures. These include embankments, anti-rockfall netting, rock reinforcements and alarm systems for natural disasters. Protection is enhanced further by the local status reports supplied by internal specialists. In total, SBB invested some CHF 25 million in protection against natural hazards in 2013.