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Network Rail is ‘closely monitoring’ ALL routes for steel tracks overheating and buckling in the extreme heat.
It said it anticipates restrictions across the network tonight - as operators warned passengers to head home early and avoid travelling at peak times to try and avoid the chaos.
People travelling in eastern and south-eastern England face the worst chaos with the mercury forecast to reach 37C (98.6F) – the highest ever recorded in July - causing steel tracks to heat up to 50C (122F).
It is already the hottest day of the year so far with a scorching 35C recorded at Heathrow Airport this afternoon.
And now rail bosses have warned commuters to prepare for long delays and suspension of services this evening, sparking fears huge parts of the network will be thrown into chaos during the busiest time of the day.
The record hot weather is forecast to cause chaos on the rail network tonight (Image: Express.co.uk)
The hot weather is set to cause chaos on trains tonight as rail tracks buckle across Britain
As our rail heatmap shows, Anglian services are most likely to be affected but services going in and out of London, Nottingham, Leicester, Brighton, Southampton could all be hit.
Network Rail advised passengers to check before travelling and carry bottled water to prevent dehydration.
A spokeswoman said: “We are monitoring the tracks constantly. We advise passengers to check on our website before travel.
“We expect it to be hottest in the east, so we are anticipating speed restrictions here, probably for the Anglian routes but they could go in elsewhere if the heat continues to rise.
“We will be keeping a close eye on the weather.”
Network Rail, which manages 20,000 miles of track across England, Scotland and Wales, said its ‘extreme weather action teams’ will be on hand to try and avert a crisis.
The firm has installed mini weather stations and will be working with forecasters to identify anticipated trouble hotspots.
Virgin Trains in and out of London Euston are among those that could be affected by buckling tracks (Image: Getty)
The hot weather could impact trains in and out of London including Virgin Trains (Image: Netweather)
Speed restrictions will be imposed along at-risk routes and where lines show signs of heat damage services will be cancelled, it warned.
A spokesman said: “When our remote monitoring systems tell us that a section of track might be expanding too much and could cause problems, we introduce local speed restrictions.
“Rails sometimes buckle even with prevention in place, and this means we need to close the line and repair the track before trains can run again.”
Andy Thomas, England and Wales managing director of Network Rail, added: “On very sunny days, rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20 degrees above air temperature causing the steel to expand markedly and could, if not carefully monitored and action taken, buckle causing travel disruption.
“Our engineers and specialist extreme weather teams are monitoring track-side temperatures and vulnerable locations and will, if necessary, introduce temporary speed restrictions during the hottest part of the day to keep trains running, albeit more slowly than normal.”
The hot weather could spark huge delays on the trains tonight as steel tracks buckle across the UK (Image: Meteociel)
Temperatures are forecast to rocket into the mid to high 30Cs this afternoon with the mercury unlikely to dip below 20C (68F) in places overnight.
London, south-eastern England, East Anglia and the south coast are in the firing line for the highest temperatures.
However much of the country is braced for what could be the hottest spell of July weather ever recorded.
Commuters were urged also to carry bottled water with temperatures on trains expected to nudge 40C (104F).
Rail operators confirmed trains will be running slower than normal through the day due to the hot weather.
Greater Anglia confirmed some journeys have been cancelled and urged people to avoid travel at peak times.
Greater Anglia trains have already been impacted by the hot weather engulfing the UK (Image: Getty)
Scorching weather hot enough to melt train tracks is forecast for the UK until September (Image: Netweather)
A spokesman said: “Network Rail has asked us to run some trains slower than usual during the heat to protect the track from buckling.
“As a result, we have had to cancel some services this afternoon.
“We're trying hard to keep our customers as comfortable as possible in this extremely hot weather.
“We're opening doors and windows on trains while they're in depots to air them and trying to fix any air conditioning faults on the day they're reported.
“Where possible, we would advise customers to travel on less busy trains with fewer people on board.
“We publish a list of less busy trains on our website.”
The hot weather is great news for these holidaymakers from the Netherlands in London’s Hyde Park (Image: Getty)
A spokeswoman for Virgin Trains said: "Whilst all of our trains are air conditioned we recommend that customers take a bottle of water with them for their journey.
"We have made extra bottles water available on-board our trains and should any customer feel unwell we advise speaking to our on-board teams or a member of the station team who will ensure they’re looked after.”
East Midlands Trains and Chiltern Railways were unable to provide comment in time for publication.
Department for Transport figures reveal that more than half a million people use trains in and out of London during a typical workday morning.
Travel watchdog London TravelWatch reiterated warnings to avoid travel at busy times during the hot weather.
A spokesman said: “We’ve called for operators to take action to tackle the effects of overcrowding on rail services in and around London which is being made worse by continuing disruption and the extreme heat of the last few weeks.
“In the short term there are a few things operators can do to make the situation more bearable for passengers such as providing reliable information so that passengers are not running from platform to platform trying to find the right train and letting passengers travel in first class when there is disruption and additional overcrowding.
“However, it might be better if passengers avoid travelling during peak times if they are able to during these exceptional circumstances.”
The hot weather across the UK could even beat the legendary scorcher of 1976 (Image: MetDesk)
London Underground passengers yesterday reported being crammed into carriages as temperatures rocketed past the legal limits for transporting cattle.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of rail industry representatives the Rail Delivery Group, said people feeling unwell on trains should get off and ask staff for help.
He said: “This week could see some of the hottest weather of the year so we would advise people travelling by train to carry a water bottle and if they feel unwell, get off at the next stop where a member of staff will be happy to help.”
This article first appeared on www.express.co.uk
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