Posted 25th July 2019 | 3 Comments

Hot weather disrupts services and triggers warning

updated 08.05 Friday

THE record July temperatures disrupted many lines in southern England on Thursday, and Network Rail has warned that some problems are likely to continue today.

Passengers on Thameslink and East Midlands Trains have been urged to travel only if their journeys are essential today, because services towards Bedford and Sheffield are still disrupted. The Midland Main Line was affected by various problems on Thursday, which included faults on the overhead lines between Kentish Town and West Hampstead Thameslink and a fire near the railway at West Hampstead.

LNER is also still affected, and Stansted Express services were disrupted early on Friday morning. 

The temperature reached a new record for July on Thursday, with 38.1C recorded at Cambridge.

Widespread speed restrictions were imposed, and a number of operators urged passengers not to travel unless their journeys were essential.

Many cancellations occurred as trains moved more slowly than usual, cutting capacity. There was particularly serious disruption on the East Coast Main Line, following damage to the OHLE just north of Peterborough. LNER warned that many of its trains from London were being cancelled, while those which did run were up to two hours late. There were no Grand Central or Hull Trains services from London.

Other operators affected were c2c, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, London Northwestern Railway, London Overground, Stansted Express, TransPennine Express and Virgin Trains.

Some of the disruption was not related to the heat. A trespasser chasing a dog along the railway caused many South Western Railway trains from London Waterloo to be cancelled or delayed, and all lines between Waterloo and Clapham Junction were blocked for a time.

Network services director at Network Rail Nick King said: ‘There were a number of heat related incidents across the railway on Thursday 25 July. Our teams have been working flat out to fix the issues, however we are sorry that disruption is likely to continue into the morning of Friday. We are advising  passengers to check with their train operators or the National Rail Enquiries website before travelling.’

There have been problems on the continent too. French rail passengers in 20 regions, including Paris, were urged not to travel yesterday, while some Deutsche Bahn trains were cancelled. DB was reported to have said: Our technology has reached its limits in these temperatures.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Steve, Luton

    Since we currently have the best safety record out of all European railway infrastructures, I'd say we are up to scratch. But indeed climate change is affecting reliability. It's finding a balance between extreme hot and cold.

    We could lay tracks with a higher reference ambient temperature to combat heatwaves. However during extreme colder weather, rails would contract/fracture/break.

    Putting faith in a transport secretary to sort out railway infrastructure is the funniest joke I've heard in years. The last one cancelled or scaled back multiple electrification projects (as per usual Tory policy).

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    Network Rail is a hopeless organisation. Classic public sector inefficiency. Overpaid and prone to shrug the shoulders when there's hard work to be done.

    But climate change presents challenges even a competent infrastructure owner would struggle with. Extremes of heat and cold. Flooding. Drought. Etc etc.

    That said, the decision by NR to patch up the Conwy Valley line with the same hopeless lack of resistance to flooding shows they take incompetence to a whole new level.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    Our railway infrastructure is not up to scratch and it needs sorting out. I hope that the new transport secretary can sort it out.