Railway passengers in England and Wales are being warned to only travel if absolutely necessary in the very hot temperatures forecast from Monday.
The Met Office has issued a red weather warning for extreme heat in the east of England, the Midlands and parts of the North West on Monday and Tuesday with temperatures forecast to reach as high as 40°C in some areas, including London. An amber warning is in force for the rest of England, Wales and some parts of southern Scotland.
The currently forecast temperatures will mean speed restrictions on railways, because steel rails can be 20C above the air temperature, which means rail temperatures are likely to be greater than 50C. The effect on train services will vary by region, but Network Rail warned that journeys ‘will take significantly longer’, while there is a ‘high likelihood’ of cancellations, delays and last-minute alterations.
Passengers who choose to travel despite the warning are being advised to check the status of their journey before travelling and ensure they are well-prepared for the extreme conditions – wearing cool clothes, taking handheld fans and ensuring they have plenty of water to drink. Vulnerable passengers and those with health conditions should avoid travelling on these days.
Rail passengers in Scotland are also being asked to check their journeys before travelling and take sensible precautions.
Network Rail’s System Operator group director Jake Kelly said: ‘We’re working closely with MetDesk to monitor forecasts and adapt our plans, and with our train operator colleagues to make sure we can get passengers who need to travel to their destinations safely.’
Network Rail said its specialist teams are preparing for the heatwave and response teams will be available, but services are still likely to be disrupted if current forecasts prove to be correct.