Rail restrictions remain in wake of heatwave

Trains are still affected today by the extremely hot weather over the past two days.

Both the West and East Coast Main Lines were damaged by the heat, partly because a fire alongside the ECML at Sandy in Bedfordshire spread on to the line, burning out signalling cables and equipment. A nearby level crossing was also damaged.

Network Rail said the incident at Sandy had delayed an inspection of more than 400km of track along the route, in case yesterday’s temperatures of almost 40C had damaged the infrastructure. If damage is found, it must be repaired before the main line can be opened fully again, without speed restrictions.

No trains are running between Peterborough and London King’s Cross, although it is not yet known if services will be restored later today.

More damage has been reported on the West Coast Main Line. In particular, a fire between Harrow and Watford at Hatch End damaged the line, while there was also severe damage to the OHLE at Birmingham New Street. Network Rail said some services had started running again through New Street just after 09.00 this morning. The overhead was also damaged between Lancaster and Carlisle, and the only trains currently running from Lancaster are on the Morecambe line. Up trains from Carlisle are also being cancelled. Network Rail has not been able to say when train services will be restored.

One of the more bizarre effects of the exceptional heat was at London Waterloo, where a section of platform edge was distorted.

Network Rail’s East Coast infrastructure director Simon Pumphrey said: ‘The heat has caused numerous challenges for the railway. Our teams remain on site to deal with the damage caused by the fire at Sandy. We’re working as hard as we can, but the complexity of the work means there will be severe disruption to trains on the East Coast Main Line.

‘The incident has also disrupted our plans to manually inspect the route between Peterborough and King’s Cross for any other damage and carry out any repairs, so we'll be working today to do that.’

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