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Heritage railway cancels services due to extreme heat

The Churnet Valley railway has announced that it will cancel all train services on Sunday and Tuesday due to the high temperatures that are being forecast.

The region is under a red extreme heat weather warning on Monday and Tuesday and an Amber warning for Sunday. Extreme heat can cause safety concerns for railways.


The Churnet Valley railway said

“In a highly unusual case, the Churnet Valley Railway is disappointed to advise that we will be cancelling all train services on Tuesday 19th July following the review of guidance from the Met Office.

As many will know the UK is expected to experience an unprecedented heatwave for the early part of next week, raising outdoor temperatures to the high 30s. This presents challenges for ourselves, particular our infrastructure. Our rails are made of steel, that contains iron which naturally absorbs heat. Rail temperatures can be up to 20 degrees higher than air temperature, and with the forecast temperature increase there is potential for rail defects that would severely disrupt our services. Our track is fully jointed, meaning the rails are cut to 60ft lengths and joined together with metal fastenings but an air gap is left to allow for a moderate expansion with the varying outdoor temperatures. However such a significant increase as predicted has the potential for causing expansion beyond this air gap, which would result in the individual rail heads pressing against one another and lead to an eventual buckle in one or both of the rails – making the line inoperable until the track has cooled and allowed our maintenance teams chance to check the joints.

We are extremely disappointed to be placed in this situation, it is yet another challenge posed alongside the ongoing coal supplies and rise in cost of utilities. We hope our customers understand the situation though, and look forward to welcoming you all once the weather improves for us all.”

The railway had previously cancelled all steam services to minimise the risk of lineside fires in the heat as the surrounding countryside is very dry.

Network rail are also warning people of potential delays to mainline services saying “Rail passengers in England and Wales should only travel if absolutely necessary on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July. There will be delays, cancellations and last-minute changes to train services due to the unprecedented record heat on those days.”


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