Britain's trains struggling as heat affects tracks

Ceri Roberts
Britain's trains struggling as heat affects tracks
Britain's trains struggling as heat affects tracks

We're just a few days into the heatwave, after months of miserable weather - but already our transport system is struggling to cope.

London rail passengers are facing serious disruption thanks to speed restrictions that have been put in place because the heat is causing rails to buckle.

The Standard reports that a speed limit of 20mph was put in place yesterday on routes into and out of Waterloo, where surface temperatures were reported to be approaching 50C.

Network Rail blames the old wooden 'bearers' used on the line, which are less able to adapt than modern concrete foundations when heat causes the tracks to expand or buckle.

There were particular problems on a short stretch of track between Clapham Junction and Nine Elms/Battersea. Some services were cancelled and South West trains have warned that there may be more disruption as temperatures continue to soar.

A spokesman for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance told the Daily Mail that only two per cent of trains were affected by delays.

He said: "As with all metals, the track we use to run our trains expands and contracts depending on its temperature, i.e. the hotter it gets, the more it expands.

"Just like a car on a warm day, the metal can reach temperatures far in excess of the surrounding air temperature.

"While we carry out a significant amount of work to prepare for the impact of hot weather by using hydraulic machines to artificially stress the rails to cope with high temperatures, over the weekend we have seen temperatures on our tracks of almost 50C.

"The ageing condition of our infrastructure has meant that despite the preparation work that has taken place, we have had to impose speed restrictions."

Those of us who don't have to commute into London will no doubt be delighted to hear that the good weather is set to continue in most areas.

Leon Brown, forecaster at The Weather Channel, told AOL Travel: "This weekend looks hot and sunny in the south on Saturday with temperatures reaching 28 to 30C again. Cooler though in Scotland with more cloud and a few showers. Next week the south looks like it will stay fine and dry with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures still above average but not quite as hot. There will be nearer normal temperatures, in the 17 to 21C range, in northern Britain with more cloud at times and a few showers."

Click on the image below to find out where to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine...


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