Passengers planning to travel by train into London and the south-east of England are being asked to consider if they need to travel tomorrow and consider changing their travel plans if they can as services on some routes are expected to be significantly disrupted due to forecast high temperatures on Thursday.
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.
Restrictions are expected to be in place which will affect services:
- across Sussex, Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire (including services into Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Charing Cross and Victoria stations in London)
- on routes between
- Euston and Rugby
- Kings Cross and Peterborough
- St Pancras International and Leicester
- Paddington and Didcot (to be confirmed)
There may be knock-on delays on services which travel in part through these areas. All passengers are advised to continue to check before they travel to see how the speed restrictions may affect their journeys, 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 as much as possible, we ask passengers to consider if they need to travel tomorrow and to check the latest information from their train operator or the National Rail website.
“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.