Commuters have been advised to avoid travelling in train across the UK , as extreme temperatures plunged the rail network into chaos.
Train operators and Network Rail warned the system could not cope with the searing heat. Many services are reported to be cancelled so far.
Rail operators told customers to bear in mind possible speed restrictions when planning journeys due to the risk of tracks buckling, putting trains at risk of derailing. Anyone using the train network this week is advised to regularly check their train operator’s website or National Rail Enquiries.
On some parts of the rail system, speeds have been reduced to 20mph and Network rail, which manages Britain’s 20,000 miles of steel track, said it had activated “extreme weather action teams” to minimise disruption.
Measures like painting some parts of the track white to cool it down are being taken by the railway teams. A spokesman said: “The measure aims to reduce the temperature by up to 10C.”
Network Rail said in hot weather tracks can be 20C hotter than the surrounding air temperature, causing the steel rails to expand and buckle under pressure from trains. Tracks are less likely to buckle if trains run more slowly, it said.
A total of 15 rail operators urged commuters to avoid travel altogether, or to set off early if they could not.
East Midlands Trains told passengers: “We strongly recommend you do not travel today.”
London North Eastern Railway, which runs the east coast mainline from London King’s Cross to Scotland, advised passengers not to travel on trains that were likely to be extremely busy.
Greater Anglia, which covers the Cambridge to Liverpool Street line, Southeastern, which operates trains in south east London and Kent, and London Overground were among the operators posting warnings on Twitter. Greater Anglia tweeted: “Greater Anglia is advising customers not to travel unless absolutely necessary on Thursday 25 July. Network Rail has set reduced speed limits of 60MPH across the whole of our network, so our usual timetable is unable to operate.
Other operators to predict disruption included Virgin Trains, Thameslink, the TransPennine Express, Great Northern, Great Western, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, CrossCountry, London Overground, London Northwestern and Hull Trains.