Heat emergency: ‘travel by train only if you must’

Railway passengers in England and Wales are being warned to only travel if they must in the very high temperatures today and tomorrow.

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, with temperatures forecast to reach as high as 40°C in some areas including inland East Anglia and most of south east England.

Network Rail will close the East Coast Main Line for all stations between London King’s Cross and York and Leeds tomorrow. Passengers are being warned not to try to travel. The line between Colton Junction and London will be closed from 12.00 to 20:00, and only a skeleton service will run up to midday. Meanwhile, only ‘critical’ freight trains in the worst affected Network Rail regions will be permitted to run today and tomorrow between 12.00 and 22.00.

When trains do run their speeds will be seriously restricted. Network Rail has 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 are being urged to check their journeys before setting out and to wear cool clothes, take handheld fans and carry plenty of water. National Rail has advised vulnerable passengers and those with health conditions not to travel.

Rail passengers in Scotland are also being asked to check their journeys before travelling and take sensible precautions.

Network Rail operations director Steve Hopkinson said: ‘Our railway is simply not engineered to run normally in such extreme temperatures. We’ve got extra teams out around the route, ready to respond to incidents but with temperatures set to break records, we need to also reduce the speed at which trains can run throughout Monday and Tuesday. This reduces the risk of tracks buckling in the heat and also means that when the overhead line expands it won’t create a safety risk.

‘Reduced speeds mean fewer services can run so I ask our passengers to only travel if they need to.’

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