Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Train services hit by soaring temperatures

TRAIN services to and from Henley were hit by this week’s hot weather.

TRAIN services to and from Henley were hit by this week’s hot weather.

Speed restrictions were put in place by Network Rail amid fears that rails would buckle due to track temperatures of up to 50C.

Temperatures topped 30C in Henley on Wednesday and bottled water was handed out to passengers at the station.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, trains from London were delayed by up to 30 minutes due to the 20mph speed restriction on the main line. There was also a signal failure between London and Reading on Tuesday.

There were no direct trains between London Paddington and Henley from Wednesday until today (Friday) so commuters and regatta-goers were forced to travel via Twyford. First Great Western amended services between noon and 8pm, meaning the evening fast trains terminated at Twyford.

Train tracks are built with a small gap to allow the metal to expand and contract but can be at risk of buckling when air temperatures reach 30C.

Neil Gunnell, of the Henley Branch Users’ Group, said the decision to stop trains at Twyford meant points on the track didn’t have to be changed for the fast and slow trains, which ws safer in hot weather.

He said: “What First Great Western is doing is quite sensible. It was good that they had that plan in place on Tuesday but it was thwarted by things out of their control like a signal failure.

“They were very proactive in telling us what was happening before making an announcement.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Warm weather causes the steel rails to expand as they heat up, which is why we closely monitor track temperatures and take action, if it’s needed, to keep trains running safely and reliably.

“Track temperatures this week are predicted to exceed 50C in many places, meaning we will need to impose speed restrictions at some locations. This is because slower trains exert lower forces on the track, reducing the risk of buckling and keeping passengers moving.”

An extra 60 services have also been added during the Regatta when tens of thousands of people travel by train to Henley.

Henley station manager David Pinder said: “We are delighted to be able to provide these additional services in support of the regatta. While our friendly and approachable staff will be on hand to help keep people moving, I would urge customers to allow time for their journeys as some passengers may not be able to board their first choice train.”

There will be no services at Wargrave tomorrow (Saturday) as longer trains will be used between Twyford and Henley. Instead, hourly bus services will run between Wargrave and Twyford.

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