Posted 19th July 2022 | 1 Comment

Network Rail upgrades heat warning to DO NOT TRAVEL

Train services on several main lines from London have been suspended or are very limited today, because of the danger of rails being distorted by the heat.

Forecasters have issued a red warning of extreme heat in parts of England, and Network Rail has upgraded its advice to DO NOT TRAVEL.

The East Coast Main Line will be closed to traffic south of York, and there will also be no Thameslink or Great Northern trains running north of London. There will be a ‘very limited’ service on East Midlands Railway to London, but there will be no trains running between midday and 19.00.

Network Rail has also warned that services from London Euston and London Marylebone will be ‘very limited and disrupted’.

A number of distorted rails and failing sections of OHLE were found by track inspection teams yesterday, and today’s heat may be even greater. Rail temperatures have been reaching 55C or more, and the record so far was reached in Suffolk yesterday with a temperature of 62C. Severe speed restrictions are being imposed again today where trains do run. Only ’critical’ freight trains are being permitted, and these will also run at reduced speeds.

Network Rail operations director Jake Kelly said: ‘We have not taken the decision lightly to upgrade our travel advice to “do not travel” if heading north out of London. Please replan your journey as there will either be no services or very disrupted services. Any journey within the Met.Office’s “red-zone” is going to be long, disrupted and uncomfortable so, with free refunds or ticket swaps available, our best advice is to stay home and replan your journey. Do not try to travel by rail within the “red-zone”.’

Network Rail added that the warm night meant rails could not cool down enough, which is why today’s restrictions are starting earlier in the day.

Reader Comments:

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  • king arthur, buckley

    There have been no 'extreme' temperatures this week, only perhaps slightly above the average for this country in July. Oxford recorded a temperature of 36 degrees in August 1911, and unsurprisingly there is no evidence to suggest any of the substantially more numerous rail services were cancelled on that day (higher temperatures were almost certainly experienced elsewhere).

    You've got to laugh at the panic those steam hauled charter trains caused on the weekend - steam engines are a fire hazard, according to our new age railway management. Quite how the railway functioned during the summer time in the age of steam is anyone's guess.

    [To take your Oxford example, line speeds were a lot lower in 1911, and it is higher speeds that tend to buckle track. That is why there have been speed restrictions. The point about temperatures going above 40C is that a line is crossed, because rails tend to be 20 degrees above the air temperature, and 60C plus as a rail temperature is unprecedented. Steam engines are a fire hazard: when they were common many embankments were often charred by fires. The other problem is that there were relatively few OHLE sections in steam days. Now there are many more, and overhead is particularly vulnerable to fires, to say nothing of trackside cables. There were also far fewer of these in steam days, and telegraph wires were carried on masts.--Ed.]