LONDON – England faces the prospect of severe disruption to its transport networks on Monday as temperatures look set to hit unprecedented new highs.
Temporary speed restrictions were in place across large parts of the network, including London’s Tube system. Entire lines canceled service early amid fears extreme temperatures forecast could bend rails. Red alerts were also posted at train stations and on social media urging people to reconsider their journeys.
But despite warnings to only make essential journeys and potential travelers being advised to stay at home, many Londoners felt they had no choice but to use the city’s Tube network and other trains on Monday morning.
Rufus Cameron, 26, who lives on the third floor of a shared house in north London, decided to escape the heat of the city to his parents’ home in the south of England and waited for the train on Monday morning.
“Our flat is hot, it’s hot outside, it’s a bit much,” he said. “In the UK, we don’t know how to cope with this kind of heat.” Although he said he was worried that the national rail service that would take him home might be delayed, he hoped that leaving before the temperature rose too steeply would avoid any problems.
“But what we can do with the infrastructure in the UK,” he added. “It wasn’t built for this.”
In London, some extreme temperatures are expected — Tuesday’s forecast predicts a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit — with several tube lines out of service Monday and Tuesday. According to a report by Transport for LondonIt runs the network.
Just 40 per cent of the Tube network is air-conditioned, and Transport for London advised passengers to carry water and to consider timed journeys to cooler parts of the day.
National rail services are also hampered by thousands of miles of steel tracks that absorb heat easily and cause severe delays. According to Network Rail, which owns and repairs railway infrastructure in England, Scotland and Wales, steel rails can expand when heated and push against adjacent pieces of track. .
In a statementThe company warned of delays, cancellations and last-minute changes to train services on Monday and Tuesday. London’s King’s Cross station and the East Coast Main Line between York and Leeds were all closed until Tuesday afternoon.
“Closing a line to traffic is always a last resort, but it was the right thing to do to keep people safe on Tuesday given the unprecedented heat wave forecast,” Network Rail’s operations director Sam McDougall said in a statement. “Forecast temperatures are much higher than our infrastructure is designed for, and safety must come first.”
Mr. MacDougall said, urging passengers to “travel only if absolutely necessary”.
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