Travel advice for rail passengers as ‘record breaking’ temperatures are forecast for this week
Passengers planning to travel by train into London and the south east of England are being asked to check before they travel and consider changing their travel plans if they can as services could be disrupted due to forecast high temperatures on Thursday.
- Passengers travelling into London and the south east of England are advised to check before they travel and consider changing their plans on Thursday if they can as services may be disrupted due to high temperatures.
- Train operators and Network Rail are working together to minimise disruption and keep passengers moving – extreme weather action teams activated, staff at hand to help and water available at major stations.
- Passengers reminded to stay hydrated during the hot weather and to claim the compensation they’re entitled to if they’re delayed on their journeys.
MetDesk has forecast that temperatures will peak at 37°C or 38°C in London and the south east of England on Thursday, breaking the current July record of 36.7°C set at Heathrow in 2015. The all time UK temperature record is 38.5°C recorded in Faversham in August 2003.
To minimise disruption and keep people moving, Network Rail has activated extreme weather action teams across the network. To prevent tracks buckling, speed restrictions will be introduced on some routes during the hottest part of the day. When this happens, services may take longer than usual, and others may be cancelled if there isn’t enough capacity on the network to run the service. On Thursday 25 July there will likely be disruption from early afternoon onwards as speed restrictions will be in place until early evening when they are removed, however services will be affected throughout the evening. Passengers are advised to continue to check before they travel, by visiting their train operator’s website or National Rail Enquiries, and consider leaving earlier on Thursday if possible as services will be busier.
Rail staff will be available to help passengers on their journey. People are also asked to take water with them on their journeys and there will be additional water available at stations.
Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations & Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, on behalf of train operators and Network Rail, said:
“This week could see record breaking hot weather for Britain. While train operators and Network Rail are working together to minimise disruption, we ask passengers to check before they travel and consider travelling earlier on Thursday if possible.
“We also ask people travelling by train to carry a water bottle and if they feel unwell, get off at the next stop where a member of staff will be happy to help.”
The rail network is made up of 20,000 miles of steel track which absorbs heat easily. In the summer, the track can get up to 20 degrees hotter than the air temperature. When steel becomes very hot it expands and can buckle, requiring repairs before trains can run again. Britain’s rail network is designed to cope with average temperatures, 27oC in the summer, however the forecast temperatures for Thursday could be up to 10oC higher.
Notes to editors:
- Since 2003, Network Rail has reduced the number of buckled rail incidents by 83%. More information - https://www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/how-we-prevent-tracks-from-getting-too-hot/
- When installing steel rails, Network Rail uses a process called stressing to protect against buckling. Stressing the rails allows Network Rail to set the range of temperatures the track can comfortably cope with. Stressing rails to cope with higher summer temperatures would mean making them less able to cope with low temperatures during the winter. The railway in Britain has a stress-free temperature of 27oC, the average summer rail temperature in the UK. You can find more info here - https://www.networkrail.co.uk/why-rails-buckle-in-britain/
- Long periods without rain can mean the ground underneath the tracks dries out and shrinks, creating pothole-like cracks. Much like on the roads, trains can’t drive at full speed over these defects and have to slow down to keep passengers safe.
- Our teams work hard all year round to reduce minimise the disruption caused by hot weather. You can find more information about what Network Rail does here -https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/buckled-rail/
- More information on climate change and weather resilience on the railway is available here - https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/environment/climate-change-weather-resilience/