Thousands of commuters faced travel chaos on Monday evening, as soaring temperatures crippled Britain’s railway network.
Signalling failures caused by the hot weather were blamed for disruption between London’s Euston and King’s Cross stations and the major commuter belt around Hertfordshire.
Services to Tring and Stevenage were cancelled, with delays expected throughout the night after a points failure caused by high temperatures.
As thermometers neared 30c (86f):
- A points failure near Wolverhampton and Stafford prompted cancellations and delays;
- Disruption on ScotsRail through North Queensferry caused services to run slow;
- No trains passed between Droitwich Spa and Bromsgrove due to the weather;
- and South West Trains services Basingstoke and Southampton Central were affected by delays.
Andy Thomas of Network Rail, which manages the network, said: “On very sunny days, rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20 degrees centigrade above air temperature, causing the steel to expand markedly and could - if not carefully monitored and action taken - buckle, causing travel disruption.
“Our engineers and specialist extreme weather teams are monitoring track-side temperatures and vulnerable locations and will, if necessary, introduce temporary speed restrictions during the hottest part of the day to keep trains running, albeit more slowly than normal.”
Network Rail said local teams sprang into action on Monday to ensure tracks likely to be affected were repaired quickly.