Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and many of the observed changes are unprecedented over the past five decades. Globally, the atmosphere and the ocean are becoming increasingly warmer, the amount of ice on the earth is decreasing over the oceans, and the sea level has risen. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the average increase in global temperature (combined land and surface) between the 1850–1900 period and the 2003–2012 period was 0.78 °C (0.72 to 0.85). But should we prepare for such a relatively small change? The importance is not the means of the warming but the considerable likelihood of climate change that could trigger extreme natural hazards. The impact and the risk of climate change associated with railway infrastructure have not been fully addressed in the literature due to the differences in local environmental parameters. On the other hand, the current railway network in Malaysia, over the last decade, has been significantly affected by severe weather conditions such as rainfall, lightning, wind and very high temperatures. Our research findings based on a critical literature review and expert interviews point out the extremes that can lead to asset system failure, degraded operation and ultimately, delays in train services. During flooding, the embankment of the track can be swept away and bridge can be demolished, while during drought, the embankment of the track can suffer from soil desiccation and embankment deterioration; high temperature increases the risk of track buckling and high winds can result in vegetation or foreign object incursion onto the infrastructure as well as exert an additional quasi-static burden. This review is of significant importance for planning and design of the newly proposed high speed rail link between Malaysia and Singapore.
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