UK travel chaos as sweltering heatwave could MELT rail tracks – wave of cancellations hits

MET Office: Weather forecast for Tuesday as heatwave continues

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The rail company, which serves Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Berkshire and London said the soaring heat would put pressure on its lines from today, when the mercury is due to heat up to around 33C. Network Rail has said direct sunshine can heat up the tracks to as much as 20C more than the air temperature. As they are made from steel they will expand as they get hotter and may start to curve, which could disrupt services. Thermometers are set to record near 40C temperatures this weekend, which has prompted the advance warning from the rail company.

Services may be stopped at the last minute or speed restrictions may need to be implemented in the interests of passenger safety.

This will be especially relevant this Sunday, July 17 when the heatwave is set to reach dangerous heights.

Temperatures are set to hit the late 30s, creeping up to nearly 40C by Monday, sparking a rare amber extreme heat warning from the Met Office.

The forecaster says: “Delays on roads and road closures are possible, along with delays and cancellations to rail and air travel, with potential for significant welfare issues for those who experience even moderate delays.”

Despite Network Rail putting precautions in place, sometimes the heat will force entire line closures as engineers descend to carry out emergency repairs. 

This in turn stops trains from travelling and may cause widespread disruption as workers will need to wait for the track temperatures to drop before going near them.

And the travel chaos will not just be limited to the ground, as Heathrow Airport queues show no signs of relenting in light of mass flight cancellations.

At the moment, they are unrelated to the weather, but the Met Office has warned some issues may crop up – especially as some of the hottest temperatures are often recorded at Heathrow.

Passengers are urged to carry bottled water with them when travelling, to avoid the chances of feeling unwell in the heat. 

Those who start to feel poorly on board a train will have to get off and speak to platform staff about seeking help so services can keep moving.

Bosses are also asking people to avoid pulling the passenger alarm unless absolutely necessary.

A statement from South Western Railway adds: “Network Rail engineers will be monitoring rail temperatures around the network. Services may be altered so that trains can be used to inspect the line and rapid response staff will be deployed across our network ready to act if poor rail conditions are reported.

“There are no speed restrictions are currently in place.”

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The operator also said there is a risk of line side fires as the mercury heats up. 

Temperatures today will peak at 33C, before becoming slightly cooler by the end of the week. 

But this temporary relief will be short lived, as Sunday and Monday are set to be record-breaking days, with the Met Office warning people to alter their day-to-day routine to suit the abnormally high temperatures.

This uncomfortable humidity will be felt across the country, with an amber weather warning covering more than 85 local authority areas.

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