Lay summary
Sustained reduction of infrastructure vulnerability

Reliable infrastructure networks are essential tothe proper functioning of a contemporary society and economy.Events such as the power failure on the SBB (SwissFederal Railways) rail network or the closure of the Gotthardmotorway due to rockfalls and landslides have driven homethis fact to broad sections of the population.Yet, any amountof expenditure or technical precautions will never completelyrule out the possibility of such events. The present shortageof resources calls for a shift in focus from isolated hazardsaffecting certain sections of the infrastructure to the performanceof the overall network.

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the projectwill examine various natural and man-made hazardsand use risk analyses to forecast likely damage. The cost ofmeasures aimed at curbing potential losses will then beestimated. The utility of such action may be equated to theanticipated damage reduction. This will allow a systematiccost-benefit analysis of individual measures. The projectaims to develop an instrument to assess the cost and utilityof measures for minimizing infrastructure vulnerability andto test this in practice on the example of the Gotthard transportaxis.

Methodologically, the project comprises a geoscientificand an economic component. The geoscientific studywill investigate (natural) hazards and their implications forinfrastructure vulnerability. In addition, measures aimed atreducing the damage potential of the individual hazards willbe assessed.The economic analysis will compare the costs ofthese measures to the derived utility.The results will be usedto develop an instrument that weighs the cost of measuresagainst their benefits, as part of a model for the optimizationof transport infrastructure performance.

The proper functioning of present-day societydepends on the smooth operation of key infrastructure networks.Any faults in or disruption to these systems adverselyimpact the economy, the environment and, with them, publicwelfare. For diverse reasons, however, damage to infrastructureand its consequences cannot be fully eliminated.The project will frame an approach for the assessment ofmeasures designed to optimize the performance of infrastructuresystems.