Hottest July day on record causes chaos on rail network

Commuters are enduring chaos and disruption on the railways as the UK swelters on its hottest July day on record.

The Met Office said a new record temperature for the month was set at 38.1C in Cambridge on Thursday afternoon, beating the previous record of 36.7C set in Heathrow in 2015.

It is also the second hottest UK day on record, beating the 37.1C recorded in August 1990.

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Hottest July day on record
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Hottest July day on record
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Customers fill up water bottles at the free Rehydration Station at Boots store in Covent Garden, London.
People waiting at Grantham station as cancellations from Grantham into London continue due to the hot weather.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Customers fill up water bottles at the free Rehydration Station at Boots store in Covent Garden, London.
A Southeastern train passes through heat haze in Ashford, Kent as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People play a game of volleyball in a pop up court in Canary Wharf, London, after 200 tonnes of sand was brought in to fill a space between the tall financial buildings.
A barbary macaque enjoys a frozen fruit and nut treat at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded.
Amur tiger Minerva cools off in her pool at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded. The UK's all-time record of 38.5 degrees may be broken later this afternoon.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
Workmen enjoy ice creams in Manchester as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
RETRANSMITTING WITH CORRECTED BYLINE TO JACOB KING. People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People sunbathe in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
A man shades his head with a flannel in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
People boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
A young woman tries to keep cool in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
People punt along the River Cam in Cambridge, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
Hamza and Haris splash in the water feature beside the National Football Museum in central Manchester, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People splash in the fountains in Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather on Brighton Beach as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather on Brighton Beach as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
A couple row up the Thames approaching the bridge at Hose Fair, near Kingston-upon-Thames. The UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
The sun rises over Burton Dassett Hills in Southam, Warwickshire. The UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
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Exceptionally high temperatures have gripped parts of Scotland as well as much of central, eastern and southern England as a plume of hot air pushes north from the Continent.

New high temperature records have also been set in parts of Belgium, Germany and Holland as a heatwave grips western and central Europe, pushing the mercury above 40C.

Experts at the Met Office say the current weather pattern is driving hot air from the south, but there is "no doubt" climate change is playing a role in the intensity of the heat being witnessed.

The scorching temperatures are causing chaos on the rail network.

WEATHER Hot
(PA Graphics)

A reduced timetable in the South East came into force at midday as Network Rail implemented speed restrictions amid fears tracks could buckle in the heat if trains travel too fast.

Speed limits on most commuter lines have been reduced from 60mph to 30mph.

But the extreme conditions also caused damage to overhead electric wires, blocking all lines between London and Luton.

Overhead wire failures also caused disruption between London and Watford, between Preston and Carlisle and in the Birmingham area.

Heat haze
A Southeastern train passes through heat haze in Ashford, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Many operators have urged passengers not to travel as services are delayed and cancelled.

Network Rail's network services director Nick King said: "We have a number of heat-related incidents across the rail network this evening that are causing disruption to services.

"We are sorry that some passengers are experiencing uncomfortable conditions and inconvenience.

"Our teams are working flat-out to fix the issues as quickly as possible and get people on the move.

Delayed rail passengers
Passengers wait at Grantham station amid cancellations on services into London due to the high temperatures (Stephen Jones/PA)

"We're asking anyone travelling this evening to check with their train operators or visit the National Rail Enquiries website to see how their journey is affected."

Further travel disruption could be caused by thundery downpours prompted by the sweltering temperatures, with flash flooding and even power cuts possible.

A yellow warning for thunderstorms has been issued for most of England except the South West, and parts of Scotland until 4am on Friday.

Met Office chief meteorologist Steve Willington said: "We're already seeing thunderstorms being triggered by today's hot weather and we'll continue to see thunderstorms breaking out this evening and overnight across wide areas of the UK.

WEATHER Hot
(PA Graphics)

"Also tonight it's going to be very warm across central, eastern and south-eastern parts in particular as temperatures fall no lower than 23C to 24C in places, which could see further temperature records broken."

The Met Office said the current record for the highest overnight temperature in the UK is 23.9C, set in August 1990.

On Wednesday night some places experienced a "tropical night" with temperatures staying above 20C, and that is likely to be repeated on Thursday into Friday.

But the country will see more familiar conditions return into the weekend, with the weather becoming less settled and an increased chance of rain for many eastern and north-eastern areas.

The Government's advisory Committee on Climate Change has warned the UK is not prepared for the increase in heatwaves that is expected with global warming.

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