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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

The UK has had to slow down its trains to prevent tracks 'buckling' in the heat

Britain’s Met Office predicted a chance that the UK record of 38.5C would be exceeded today.

Image: Shutterstock/Jevanto Productions

THE RISK OF train tracks buckling in the heat has disrupted train services in the UK as temperatures continue to rise across Europe. 

Britain’s Met Office predicted a chance that the UK record of 38.5C, which was recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2004, would be exceeded today.

To prevent tracks buckling, speed restrictions have been 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,” National Rail said. 

“Long periods without rain can mean the ground underneath the tracks dries out and shrinks, creating pothole-like cracks. Much like on the roads, trains can’t drive at full speed over these defects and have to slow down to keep passengers safe.” 

Tweet by @Network Rail Source: Network Rail/Twitter

Director of Nations & Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, Robert Nisbet, said 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,” he said.  

Britain’s rail network is designed to cope with average temperatures, 27C in the summer, however, the forecast temperatures could be up to 10C higher.

Passengers planning to travel by train into London and the south east of England have been asked by National Rail to consider changing their travel plans if they can as services could be disrupted due to the forecast.

They have also been asked to take water with them on their journeys but additional water will be available at major stations.

Today is forecast to be the peak of Europe’s latest heatwave – the second in less than a month and impetus for new focus to be given to climate change. Cooler weather with rain was expected to provide relief by tomorrow. 

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Adam Daly

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