- With temperatures set to reach the mid-30s in parts of Britain towards the end of this week and into the weekend, the rail industry is working to keep passengers moving safely
- Passengers are being asked to plan ahead and continue to follow public health advice when travelling by rail – wear a face covering unless you are exempt, maintain a distance from others and travel at quieter times wherever possible
- Network Rail has activated its extreme weather action teams (EWATs) at hotspots across the country. Speed restrictions may be introduced at the hottest locations to keep services running as reliably as possible in extreme heat
- Train operators will have staff on hand to help and provide guidance through journey planners and social media
Rail companies are urging passengers to plan ahead and follow public health advice as temperatures are expected to soar from tomorrow (Friday) into the weekend.
With many people likely to take advantage of the hot weather by going on staycations or day trips to coastal resorts, it is vital that people who use the railway for such journeys adhere to public health guidance to keep themselves and other passengers safe.
Network Rail and train operators are working together to minimise disruption by having ‘extreme weather action teams’ on hand to keep people moving, having staff available at stations to help passengers, and providing guidance about travelling during hot weather through journey planners and social media. As part of their Safer Travel Pledge, rail companies are also boosting cleaning at stations and on trains, providing soap and sanitiser to make it easier for people to keep their hands clean and providing personalised alerts about busy trains through Facebook messenger.
Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said:
“With hot weather forecast, we know that many people will want to visit friends or take the family to the beach. Train operators and Network Rail are working together to help passengers travel safely this summer as part of our Safer Travel Pledge by boosting cleaning, helping with hygiene and providing improved information to help people stagger their journeys.
“When travelling in this weekend’s hot weather please carry a water bottle, wear a face covering unless you are exempt, and follow social distancing guidelines.”
Even in hot conditions, it is vital that passengers wear a face covering for the duration of their journey to help protect themselves and others. Those who don’t, and who aren’t exempt from the rule, risk a £100 fine and being refused travel. Face coverings can be temporarily removed for the purposes of drinking water.
EWATs activated to minimise disruption
Network Rail has activated EWATs at key locations across the network to respond to any potential issues such as buckled rails or damaged overhead lines, and minimise disruption as we keep passengers moving safely and as reliably as possible.
The rail network comprises 20,000 miles of steel track, which absorbs heat easily, and thousands of kilometres of overhead power lines which keep electric trains moving. When temperatures rise, the track can get up to 20 degrees hotter than the air temperature and in some cases cause the rail to buckle, while extreme heat can also cause damage to overhead line wires.
Network Rail’s specialist staff will be working tirelessly, monitoring trackside temperatures and vulnerable locations and, if necessary, introducing temporary speed restrictions. This helps because slower trains exert lower forces on the track and reduce the likelihood of buckling, meaning major disruption caused by a buckled rail can be avoided, but there might be slight disruption and services may take longer than usual.