Sunshine in the UK

UK heatwave sees rail speed restrictions imposed

Across the UK railways will be see speed restrictions along the lines on Monday (today) and Tuesday due to the fears of rising temperatures affecting the safety of steel tracks. These restrictions will see trains hit with forced speed limitations of 90mph as opposed to 100 – 125mph, while some will be tapered down as low as 20mph.

In extreme heat circumstances, like those outlined by the Met Office for the coming days, steel has the possibility to expand leading to tracks bending and in serious cases, buckling. Steel railways absorb heat very easily and often sit at 20C above their surrounding temperatures so these speed restrictions ensure the rolling stock will exert less force on the lines, meaning the rail is less likely to buckle in the heat.

Whilst the concerns over rail line structural stability are paramount, overhead lines can also be severely affected by the soaring temperatures. These lines, especially the less modern ones, can sag and expand in the hot weather so the restricted train speeds will ensure less risk of damage.

Due to the safety concerns, Network rail have advised that passengers only travel in essential journeys, with many facing significant delays and more chance of cancellations throughout the coming days.

Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s System Operator group director, said:

“Rail passengers in England and Wales should only travel, if necessary, on Monday and Tuesday as there will be delays and cancellations to train services due to the unprecedented heat we’re expecting.

“The wellbeing of our passengers is our first priority so we’re asking all passengers who decide to travel to take time to prepare before leaving the house. Remember to bring a water bottle with you, along with whatever else you need to keep yourself well in the heat. Water bottles can be refilled for free at most Network Rail’s managed stations.”

Across the UK a plethora of train operators will be running reduced services with limited timetables, so passengers are advised to plan their journey’s ahead to ensure they avoid cancellations wherever possible.

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