Let’s talk all things heat
We all remember the two days that had the whole of the UK in uproar, the two days with extreme high and record-breaking temperatures (by British standards). Many of us sat in an air-conditioned office and complained about the heat, but not Network Rail, no it was all hands-on deck with the maintenance teams working long 12-hour shifts and carrying out heat patrolling duties at the most critical temperature sites. So, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the work that Network Rail maintenance teams put in to keep everyone safe.
How Network Rail minimise delays caused by overheated rails
Network Rail work hard to prepare the tracks for the added strain of higher temperatures.
They do this by:
Thoroughly checking the tracks ahead of summer, looking for any rails that are vulnerable to heat. They fix anything we spot.
Painting ‘hot spot’ sections of track white to reduce the heat absorbed (by up to 10 degrees).
Leaving gaps between shorter sections of track so there is space for them to expand.
Laying track on reinforced concrete slabs rather than the usual sleepers and stones, on critical sections of the railway. This helps prevent rails buckling as concrete withstands greater forces.
Having sensors across the railway that let us know when parts of track are getting too hot. This real time information helps them fix potential faults before they occur.
Putting speed restrictions in place during the hottest part of the day, when the forecast air temperature is over 36 degrees Celsius.
Source Network Rail
The question is do we think we should be more resilient to hot weather in the future?
Answer is absolutely. If we are more resilient to hot weather it could help to reduce disruption, chaos and prevent further challenges down the line