Jake Kelly, spokesman for Network Rail, has warned of travel disruption across the country due to the heatwave.
He warned that services returning to normal on Wednesday “will depend on the damage that the weather does to the infrastructure” over the course of Monday and Tuesday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Kelly said: “Our advice very strongly to customers in England and Wales today and tomorrow is to only travel if absolutely essential, and to expect a very reduced train service and delays.
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“And of course, as your listeners were hearing, on the East Coast mainline, that’s the route from London to destinations like Peterborough, Leeds and York, tomorrow, unfortunately, there won’t be a train service and passengers should not travel.
“We haven’t taken any of those decisions lightly, but we’ve not been faced with these exceptional temperatures before.”Jake Kelly, Network Rail
He added: “We’re spending hundreds of millions of pounds a year on making the railway more resilient but ultimately faced with weather like we’ve never faced before, the infrastructure will suffer so we’ve had to put in place arrangements.”
⚠️ Only travel if absolutely necessary in England and Wales today.— Network Rail (@networkrail) July 18, 2022
☀️ The @metofficeUK has issued its first red extreme heat warning, with record temperatures forecast.
Very hot weather can severely impact the railway:
➡️ https://t.co/Orv0SO9VvU#heatwaveuk pic.twitter.com/5bm05LKGcK
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Mr Kelly said: “We hope and expect to run a full service on Wednesday and beyond, but that will depend on the damage that the weather does to the infrastructure over the next couple of days. We have lots of plans in place to make sure that we can run.”
Did you know … ❓July 15, 2022
We paint certain parts of the rail white so they absorb less heat and expand less, reducing delays in hot weather.
🛤️ Typically, a rail painted white is 5°C to 10°C cooler:
➡️ https://t.co/9o2Wb54fnK#Heatwave pic.twitter.com/HRGCk2JYxS
More than a dozen train companies are urging Britons not to travel early next week as the UK’s first red extreme heat warning comes into force.
A total of 21 operators – ranging from Transport for Wales and Gatwick Express to the Transpennine Express and Southern – said they will be running a slower service on Monday and Tuesday after National Rail implemented speed restrictions across its network.
Speed restrictions are used by train companies during periods of hot weather to avoid any damage being made to the tracks and to prevent rails from buckling.
Cancellations are also in place as temperatures are predicted to soar to highs of 38C and 40C in some parts of England.
Amber and red extreme heat warnings have been implemented across the nation for the duration.
Those who have to travel are being encouraged to check their journeys on the National Rail website before setting off and taking water with them to stay hydrated.
Refunds are being offered to those who do not travel but have already purchased tickets.
The boss of Transport for London has urged Londoners to undertake only necessary travel on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re advising all our customers to only travel if their journey is essential, to make sure that they stay hydrated and carry water with them if they do have to travel.Andy Lord told LBC
“Check before they travel because journey times will be extended.
“We will have reduced services across the TFL network because of the safety restrictions we need to put in place due to the heat.”
Outlining what the safety restrictions were, he added: “Primarily on the railways, like National Rail, we’ve had to put speed restrictions in place.
“When the rail temperature gets above 50C, we have to reduce the speed to reduce the risk of damaging the track. In extreme cases, the rails can buckle, we need to avoid that and maintain the safety of the railway.”
Avanti West Coast has urged passengers to travel only if it is “absolutely necessary” from Sunday until Tuesday.
A spokesman for the train company said the updated advice was a result of the extreme temperatures forecast for England on Monday and Tuesday and the associated health risks.
He added: “We will be running an amended service on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 with far fewer services, and those that run will be subject to extended journey times and possible delays, due to Network Rail-imposed speed restrictions.
“Customers should check before they travel.
“Those with advance tickets on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 who choose not to travel are entitled to a full refund, alternatively their tickets will be valid to travel up to Wednesday July 20.”
🌡️ Drink plenty of water if it's absolutely necessary for you to travel by train today.— Network Rail (@networkrail) July 18, 2022
🚰 You can fill up your water bottles at one of our free cold-water fountains at our stations:
🤒 Talk to station staff if you start to feel unwell.#heatwaveuk pic.twitter.com/Co1OqDILbz
London North Eastern Railway has urged people not to travel on Tuesday.
“On Tuesday July 19, DO NOT TRAVEL between #LondonKingsCross and south of #York & #Leeds, as no trains will run,” it said in a tweet.
“Only travel if necessary to other destinations.”
People who have already bought tickets are urged to visit the LNER website for information about refunds.