With high temperatures forecast for East Anglia, Greater Anglia and Network Rail have announced joint plans to minimise disruption to rail passengers during hot weather.
The UK, and particularly East Anglia, is seeing hotter summers and when the air temperature is 30 degrees, the temperature on the rail can be up to 20 degrees higher.
This can cause a type of signalling problem called a track circuit failure and in extreme cases can cause a buckled rail.
To tackle this issue, Network Rail has painted rails white at critical points around the network including at Norwich, Colchester, Ipswich and Shenfield.
The white paint prevents the rail absorbing as much heat and can keep it between 5 and 10 degrees cooler than an unpainted rail, reducing expansion and helping to prevent signalling problems and buckled rails.
Network Rail is also keeping equipment cabinets cool with white paint and clearing vegetation and debris to prevent lineside fires.
In addition, Network Rail’s planned programme of engineering works, including the renewal of overhead lines and installation of new rails completed last year, is already helping to make the railway more reliable in hot weather.
Modern overhead lines, such as those in place on the lines between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Clacton, Harwich, Braintree, Cambridge and London Liverpool Street and those recently installed on the Southend line, do not sag in high temperatures, avoiding the need for precautionary speed restrictions.
Since the overhead line replacement on the Great Eastern Main Line and the Southend line, Network Rail has removed heat imposed speed restrictions between Ilford and Seven Kings and Shenfield to Billericay, with further restrictions to be removed following competition of the work in March 2020.
Greater Anglia is also reassuring passengers that they will be doing everything to get them from a to b reliably and in comfort this summer.
The train operator’s fleet maintenance teams will be working to ensure that the air conditioning systems on trains are in working order and to repair any faults as quickly as possible.
Customers can stay cool in the heat by carrying a reusable water bottle and refilling it at one of the water fountains across the network. Fountains can be found at Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich and London Liverpool Street.
Greater Anglia’s Managing Director, Jamie Burles, commented, “We are acutely aware of the frustration and inconvenience felt by our passengers when things go wrong, so we are pleased to be taking action in partnership with Network Rail, making additional preparations to make travelling more comfortable in hot weather.
“We will be doing all we can, as ever, to get our customers from A to B reliably, on time and in comfort.”
Meliha Duymaz, route managing director at Network Rail Anglia, said: “With the hot weather soon to arrive, we’re working with Greater Anglia to prepare the railway for the added strain of higher temperatures.
“We understand the inconvenience when there are delays so we have engineers out monitoring the track and putting measures in place to keep trains moving. Our staff are ready to respond as quickly as possible to any problem that may arise to maintain a reliable service for our passengers over the summer.”