Wednesday 24 July 2019 6:44 pm

London set for commuter chaos as Greater Anglia and others reduce services in 37C heat

Londoners face sweltering rush-hour delays tomorrow with rail groups urging travellers to avoid using trains as record temperatures could buckle the tracks.

Greater Anglia, which runs trains into the City’s Liverpool Street station, said this evening it will significantly reduce its service across its network across East Anglia and London.

Read more: London heatwave: Temperatures set to soar to 35C

It follows a move by Network Rail, which manages and owns the UK’s rail network, to put speed restrictions in place to prevent damage with the mercury possibly hitting 38.5C.

“In hot weather, tracks become more susceptible to buckling,” said Greater Anglia. “Trains put pressure on the track as it runs over it – but that pressure is reduced if the train runs at a lower speed.”

Soaring temperatures mean trains will run slower on key routes such as those in and out of London Victoria, Blackfriars, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

Britain’s rail network is designed to cope with average temperatures of 27C in the summer but the mercury could be more than 10C above that tomorrow.

Rail industry membership body Rail Delivery Group (RDG) also warned this evening that passengers travelling into London should consider changing their plans.

Leading bookie Coral is odds-on at 1-2 for the UK’s hottest ever temperature – 38.5C – to be broken tomorrow. The firm has gone 5-4 for 40C or higher.

“The betting suggests we are set for a record-breaking day in the UK with the previous high of 38.5C set to be broken,” said Coral’s John Hill.

Train firms all warned this morning that their services could be delayed and disrupted because of the heat today and tomorrow.

Thameslink warned services “may be subject to delays” due to Network Rail’s heat restrictions.

Southeastern told passengers to prepare for a “significantly” reduced service too, urging commuters not to travel for the day.

Meanwhile Transport for London (TfL) said it would work hard to keep London’s transport network running smoothly in the heat.

However, it warned passengers that railway tracks could buckle or bend in the heat.

TfL will carry out regular track temperature checks across the Tube, Docklands Light Railway, Overground, TfL Rail and Tram networks.

Read more: Rail passengers ‘missing out’ on £100m in compensation every year

It may also introduce speed restrictions on some routes despite engineers carrying out thousands of hours of work to reduce the risk of tracks bending in the intensity of the heat.

Mark Evers, director of customer experience for London Underground, said: “We advise customers to ensure they have water with them when they travel in order to stay hydrated, offer a seat to those who may need it, and, if they feel ill, to contact a member of staff at the next station or speak to the bus driver.

“We might need to reduce the speed of our trains at some locations this week as a result of the hot weather. This may mean that your journeys take longer than usual.”