British trains struggle to cope with record-breaking heat wave - TopAsiaFX

019, Jul 2022

The evening rush hour was thrown into chaos as Britain's railways buckled under the record-breaking "red-alert" heatwave.  Commuters faced swathes of cancellations and delays at major stations, with huge crowds piling up at London St Pancras, trains axed at most London terminals, and hold-ups of more than an hour in Cardiff and Edinburgh. 

Some 2,000 services out of 12,800 across the UK were either more than 30 minutes late or axed entirely on Monday, official figures seen by The Telegraph show. Just 67 per cent were within ten minutes of being on time. Meanwhile, 11 out of London's 15 Tube lines faced minor or severe delays or suspensions from 6pm. 

All flights were halted for two hours at London Luton Airport after a "runway defect" in the sweltering weather, sparking delays of up to four hours and diversions to Stansted.  Flights at RAF Brize Norton, the RAF's largest air base, were also grounded after the Tarmac melted.

Britain's hottest day of the year saw 38.1C recorded in Suffolk, and forecasters are predicting up to 43C on Tuesday, which would be an all-time UK record.  Thanks for following our live updates. We'll be back in the morning, on what could be Britain's hottest day on record.

In the meantime, stay cool on what's poised to be a warm night. "Very late" trains and cancellations are running at double their normal level as the heatwave takes its toll, Network Rail has said. 

Some 2,000 services out of 12,800 were either more than half an hour late or axed entirely between midnight and 7pm today, official figures seen by The Telegraph show.  A further 2,000 were between five and 30 minutes late. 

Just 67 per cent of all rail services in the UK arrived within five minutes of schedule, or within ten minutes on long-haul lines, as of 7pm. On a normal day this figure - the public performance measure (PPM) - would be near 90 per cent.

The UK needs to "adapt" to the changing climate with more natural ventilation, a Conservative former minister said. Sir Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, told the Commons: "Isn't the key issue here that we should adapt to our climate as we have done in the past?

"And isn't there a real problem now that too many buildings are being built without natural ventilation, for example any of the buildings on this estate? "Why don't we go back to having natural ventilation, and not having to rely so much upon air conditioning?"

The Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse replied: "One of the critical things that we need to bear in mind is this period of hot weather will be short. It will be 36 hours long." The Met Office is also warning that temperatures overnight into Tuesday are holding up in the low 20s and possible mid-20s in isolated places, and it looks likely to be the warmest night on record in the UK.

Met Office meteorologist Luke Miall said: "I've been a qualified meteorologist for 10 years, and telling people about 41C in the UK doesn't seem real. "It's crazy how we are talking about these sorts of values, I've never seen the models coming up with these values.

"It's been quite an eye-opener to climate change with all these temperatures in the UK." London Luton Airport's website has collapsed after a surge in demand from the heatwave runway closure. 

Passengers trying to find out online how long their flight is delayed, or relatives checking whether flights have been diverted elsewhere, face a wait of 20 minutes just to access the website.  Luton's runway was shut to all flights on Monday afternoon after the runway suffered under the heat, sparking travel chaos. 

The website now says: "We are experiencing a high volume of traffic and using a virtual queue to limit the number of users on the website at the same time. This will ensure you have the best possible online experience." Commuters who braved the heatwave this morning are facing lengthy delays to get home on the railway. 


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As you can see below, train terminals across the country are currently seeing mass cancellations during the evening rush hour.  Network Rail had urged passengers to "only travel if absolutely necessary" during the red extreme heat warning. Source: Telegraph