Safety measures imposed on East Coast Main Line amid warnings of record UK temperature

Infrared track monitoring. EMN-190724-163145001
Infrared track monitoring. EMN-190724-163145001
  • Service restrictions imposed after forecast of potentially unprecedented conditions
  • Protecting passenger safety will mean widely reduced speed limits
  • Passengers asked to consider if their journey is necessary and plan ahead

Commuters from the Sleaford area using the East Coast Main Line are being warned to expect delays and cancellations due to speed restrictions being imposed across wide parts of the rail network amid warnings of a record UK heatwave.

With temperatures forecast to soar into the high 30s, steel rails could top 50C in the sun, say Network Rail officials – leaving the risk of buckling under pressure.

Netwpork Rail engineers have been painting part of the steel rails white to reflect the sun's heat. EMN-190724-163156001

Netwpork Rail engineers have been painting part of the steel rails white to reflect the sun's heat. EMN-190724-163156001

To protect passenger safety, speed limits are being halved on the East Coast Main Line south of Peterborough. This is set to lead to train cancellations, longer journey times and busier services on the network. The speed limit on the Midland Main Line will also be halved south of Leicester.

Rob McIntosh, Managing Director of Network Rail Eastern, said: “Passenger safety will always be our number one priority. And with forecasts of unprecedented temperatures, we have to take action to keep people safe.

“Reducing speed limits will mean fewer services and busier trains on our main routes into and out of London.

“So I’d like to ask all passengers to think about whether their journey is really necessary and, if it is, to make sure they plan well ahead.

“I’m sorry for the disruption this will cause, but it is essential to maintain the safety of the travelling public.”

The speed limit of the East Coast Main Line is 125mph in normal circumstances. But the extreme weather is set to see that limit reduced to 60mph at the southern end of the line.

Train operating companies are working on revised schedules, but there will be reduced services, with longer journey times and the likelihood of overcrowding.

Anyone who has to travel should consult operators for the latest travel information, allow extra time for their journey and carry water with them.

It is hoped services will return to normal on Friday, with temperatures forecast to drop.

This comes after two LNER East Coast Main Line trains became stranded yesterday leaving passengers in sweltering carriages - one of them in a tunnel - after overhead power cables failed between Grantham and Newark.

The power failure caused disruption throughout the route and many services had to be diverted to Peterborough and Lincoln. Another overhead power line failure had caused disruption on July 10.