Thousands of commuters faced travel chaos on Monday evening, as soaring temperatures crippled Britain’s railway network.
Signalling failures caused by the hot weather were blamed for disruption between London’s Euston and King’s Cross stations and the major commuter belt around Hertfordshire.
Services to Tring and Stevenage were cancelled, with delays expected throughout the night after a points failure caused by high temperatures.
Meanwhile pictures taken by commuters showed hundreds awaiting announcements at Waterloo station, as departure boards appeared blank.
And as thermometers neared 30c (86f):
- A track failure near Wolverhampton and Stafford prompted cancellations and delays;
- Disruption on ScotsRail through North Queensferry caused services to run slow;
- No trains passed between Droitwich Spa and Bromsgrove due to the weather;
- and South West Trains services between Basingstoke and Southampton Central were affected by delays.
Closures in the New Barnet area of north London cleared but services out of King’s Cross towards the north ran frustratingly slow.
Andy Thomas of Network Rail, which manages the network, said: “On very sunny days, rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20 degrees centigrade above air temperature, causing the steel to expand markedly and could - if not carefully monitored and action taken - buckle, causing travel disruption.
“Our engineers and specialist extreme weather teams are monitoring track-side temperatures and vulnerable locations and will, if necessary, introduce temporary speed restrictions during the hottest part of the day to keep trains running, albeit more slowly than normal.”
The company shared a picture of warped lines at Wishaw near Glasgow, Scotland, to demonstrate the issue.
The firm said local teams sprung into action on Monday to ensure tracks likely to be affected were repaired quickly.
But the plan appeared to do little to appease those whose journeys were delayed at Euston.
Train companies on Twitter were hurriedly responding to hundreds of complaints from passengers - with many reminding those affected of their right to a refund.
It comes after the Met Office issued an alert over rising temperatures, likely to become an official heatwave in western parts of England, and Wales, from Tuesday.
Check National Rail’s live updates on current disruption here.