Rail passengers in England and Wales are being warned to only travel if absolutely necessary in the record-breaking hot temperatures forecast from Monday 18th July.
The Met Office has issued a red weather warning for extreme heat on Monday across much of the country, prompting Network Rail to implement speed restrictions.
The impact on train services will vary by region, but journeys will take significantly longer and there is a high likelihood of cancellations, delays and last-minute alterations.
Passengers who choose to travel despite the warning are being advised to check the status of their journey before travelling and ensure they are well-prepared for the extreme conditions – wearing cool clothes, taking handheld fans and ensuring they have plenty of water to drink.
Vulnerable passengers and those with health conditions should avoid travelling on these days.
Paul Dent-Jones, Network Rail spokesperson.
Network Rail says its specialist teams are currently preparing for the heatwave conditions and response teams will be deployed across the nation where possible.
Steel rails absorb heat easily and tend to be around 20 degrees above the surrounding air temperature. When steel becomes very hot it expands and rails can bend, flex and, in serious cases, buckle.
The overhead electric lines which power trains in some parts of the country are also susceptible to faults in extreme temperatures when the steel wires overheat, which can cause them to hang too low and increase the risk of getting caught on passing trains and knocking out the electricity supply.
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.
“Journeys will take significantly longer and delays are likely as speed restrictions are introduced to keep passengers and railway staff safe, so make sure to allow considerably more time to complete your journey and be prepared for very hot conditions
“We’re working closely with MetDesk to monitor forecasts and adapt our plans, and with our train operator colleagues to make sure we can get passengers who need to travel to their destinations safely.”