LONDON (Reuters) – England on Monday faced the prospect of serious disruption to its transport networks as temperatures were preparing to crawl to new record highs.
Temporary speed limits have been imposed on large parts of the network, including the London Underground system. Entire lines have proactively canceled service over concerns that projected temperature extremes could cause rails to bend. Bold red warnings were posted at stations and on social media urging people to reconsider their travels.
But despite warnings to make the most necessary trips and advice urging potential passengers to stay home, many Londoners felt they had no choice but to use the city’s underground network and other trains on Monday morning.
Rufus Cameron, 26, who lives on the third floor of a communal house in north London, decided to escape the city heat to his parents’ home in southern England and was waiting for the train on Monday morning.
“Our apartment is hot, outside is hot, everything is too hot,” he said. “In England, we have no idea how to deal with that kind of heat.” While he said he was worried about potential delays to the National Rail service getting him home, he was hopeful that leaving before the temperatures rose too sharply would spare him any trouble.
“But what can we do with the infrastructure we have in England?” he added. “It’s not designed for this.”
In London, where some extreme temperatures are expected – Tuesday’s forecast forecasts a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit – a number of pipelines were suspended on Monday and Tuesday, According to a statement issued by Transport for Londonthat runs the network.
Only 40 per cent of Tube’s network has air conditioning, and TfL has advised passengers to carry water and think about flight times for the cooler parts of the day.
National Rail services were also preparing for disruptions to thousands of miles of steel tracks, which absorb heat easily and can get tangled, causing serious delays. Steel rails expand when heated and can push against adjacent sections of the track, which can also damage equipment that detects where trains are to keep them at a safe distance, according to Network Rail, which owns and repairs rail infrastructure in England, Scotland and Wales.
in the current situationThe company warned of delays, cancellations and last-minute changes to train services on Monday and Tuesday, and also shut down the entire East Coast Main Line, which runs between London’s Kings Cross station, York and Leeds, on Tuesday afternoon.
“Closing the line to traffic is always a last resort, but it’s the right thing to do to keep people safe Tuesday given the unprecedented heatwave forecast,” Sam McDougall, Network Rail COO, said in a statement. “The expected temperatures are much higher than those designed for our infrastructure, and safety must come first.”
Mr McDougall said train speeds were also limited on Monday, a move that would limit the number of running trains and significantly lengthen journey times, and he urged passengers to “travel only if necessary”.
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