London trains feel the heat

 
Marion Dakers
TRAIN passengers were left hot under the collar yesterday after a number of commuter services were cancelled or delayed due to problems caused by the high temperatures.

South West Trains imposed a 20mph speed limit between Clapham Junction and Waterloo throughout most of the afternoon, as the ageing tracks risked warping under temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius.

South West said the restrictions, down from a normal speed of 45mph on that stretch of track, meant some services were cancelled to thin out congestion.

Services through Clapham and Battersea bore the brunt of the delays, and passengers from Shepperton to Kingston were put on replacement bus shuttles.

South West last night said it planned to run a full service today as the warm weather eases. Two per cent of South West’s 1,700 trains in and out of Waterloo every day were cancelled.

“We will continue to carry out preventative work using hydraulic machines to stress the rails to enable them to cope with high temperatures,” said the spokesperson in a statement.

Last year, the operator outlined a plan with Network Rail to upgrade the tracks after punctuality dropped below 87 per cent.

London Underground said it had placed a speed restriction on the Northern line near Finchley, but that services had not been affected by the weather.

“As part of our seasonal plans we prepare our tracks to address anticipated changes in temperatures and can also implement special timetables or speed restrictions as necessary in the event of high track temperatures,” said Phil Hufton, LU chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, air passengers look set to be spared the weather-related disruption.

Heathrow Airport, which has been one of the hottest spots in the country with highs above 28 degrees, said yesterday it fully expects to run a normal service during the heatwave.

The Met Office is forecasting fine and dry weather this week with highs of 26 degrees.

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