The Met Office has issued a red weather warning for extreme heat on both days with temperatures set to reach 37°C on Monday and Tuesday. Extremely hot temperatures can deem railway tracks unsafe, as steel is easily able to absorb heat. Overhead electrical cable wires are also susceptible to high temperatures.
As a result, speed restrictions and reduced timetables will be in place across Birmingham and the wider region for safety reasons amid fears of rails buckling in the heat. Journey times could more than double, Network Rail has warned.
The chances of services returning to normal by midweek will also depend on any “damage that the weather does to the infrastructure” over the course of Monday and Tuesday, travellers have been told.
Are local rail services still running?
All trains in and out of Birmingham New Street have been stopped due to an electrical line fault caused by the scorching temperatures.
Due to the extreme heat of up to almost 40C in Birmingham on Tuesday (19 July) afternoon, there is disruption across the network, with five trains stranded and unable to reach New Street platforms. Power has been switched off with the 25,000 volt overhead lines which power the trains.
The damaged overhead power lines on the railway north of New Street means all services in and out of the station have been brought to a halt while Network Rail engineers work to fix the issue.
Other services are still running across the West Midlands on Monday and Tuesday, but rail companies are running significantly reduced timetables. Network Rail is introducing speed restrictions on railway lines to ensure the safe running of trains. Journeys will take significantly longer and there is a high likelihood of cancellations, delays and last-minute alteration.
West Midlands Railway, Chiltern Railways and Transport for Wales are operating reduced timetables in the region on Monday and Tuesday. Great Western Railway Services will also be affected.
West Midlands Railway timetable changes and cancellations
Here is the latest information on West Midlands Railway cancellations and timetable changes in the region on Tuesday (19 July)
- Shrewsbury – Birmingham New Street: No service
- Hereford - Birmingham New Street: No service
- Rugeley Trent Valley – Birmingham International: Services will run between Rugeley – Birmingham New Street only
- Birmingham New Street – Liverpool Lime Street: Services will be running between Crewe – Liverpool Lime Street only (Birmingham – Crewe via Stoke-on-Trent services will be running as normal)
- Birmingham New Street – Northampton via Coventry: 1 train per hour will be running (calling at all stations between Birmingham International and Northampton in both directions)
- Birmingham New St - Birmingham International services will additionally call at Marston Green in both directions
- Nuneaton – Leamington Spa via Coventry: No service
- Snow Hill lines: Services between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford Upon Avon will not run and services between Birmingham Snow Hill and Leamington Spa may also be disrupted
- Wolverhampton – Birmingham / Walsall: Services are planned to run as normal
- Stourbridge Town Car: Services are planned to run as normal
Cross Country timetable changes and cancellations (19 July)
Birmingham New Street to Leicester/Cambridge/Stanstead Airport: Hourly service will operate between Birmingham and Leicester, departing Birmingham at xx52 past each hour and departing Leicester at approximately xx18 past each hour.
No CrossCountry service between Leicester - Cambridge - Stansted Airport on Monday and Tuesday as the line is closed. There are no alternatives on this route. Do not travel on these days.
- Birmingham New Street to Nottingham: Hourly service will operate, departing Birmingham at approximately xx19 past each hour and departing Nottingham at approximately xx41 past each hour.
Birmingham New Street - Cardiff Central: No CrossCountry service runs between Cheltenham Spa and Gloucester. Due to planned engineering works, buses replace trains between Cheltenham Spa and Cardiff Central.
The Birmingham - Bristol services will stop additionally at Worcestershire Parkway.
Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly: Until 11:00 – Hourly service will operate.
From 11:00 – A two hourly service will operate between Birmingham and Manchester only.
Birmingham New Street to Bournemouth: Until 11:00 – A normal service will operate, excluding the 0714 Reading – Manchester service which is cancelled.
From 11:00 – A two hourly service will operate between Birmingham and Reading only. No CrossCountry service between Reading and Bournemouth.
- Birmingham New Street – Bristol / Plymouth / Penzance / Paignton: A split service will operate all day, with services running between Birmingham and Bristol Temple Meads and between Bristol Temple Meads and Plymouth. No CrossCountry service will operate between Newton Abbot and Paignton, and between Plymouth and Penzance.
Birmingham New Street – Newcastle / Edinburgh / Glasgow / Aberdeen: A normal service will operate until 11:00.
From 11:00, a split service operates:- A two hourly service will operate between Birmingham and York only.
No CrossCountry service will operate between York and Newcastle.
Chiltern Railway cancellations (19 July)
No Transport for Wales services from Shrewsbury to Birmingham will be running on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, there will only be one train per hour from Marylebone, London, to Birmingham Moor Street.
Great Western Railway (18 July)
GWR is running a reduced timetable through the West Midlands and trains are expetced to be extremely busy.
A statement fromt the company, read: “GWR advises you to only travel if necessary, as we expect some train services to be cancelled, and journeys to take much longer due to heat related speed restrictions. If your journey is essential, please check before you travel on the morning of your journey and ensure you carry water with you.”
Passengers are advised to check their train timetable on the website, here.
London Northwestern Railway: Birmingham timetable changes (19 July)
- Birmingham New St to Northampton :1 train an hour, calling at all stations between Northampton and Birmingham International, express to Birmingham New Street
- Northampton – Birmingham New St :1 train an hour, calling at all stations
- Birmingham to Liverpool :will operate between Crewe and Liverpool only, 1 train an hour
What have the rail companies said about the heatwave in their own words?
A West Midlands Railway spokesperson said: “With such hot weather forecast for early next week, we are encouraging passengers to only travel on Monday and Tuesday if their journey is absolutely necessary. Speed restrictions and reduced timetables will be in place across our services on these days, so we are expecting disruption.
“If journeys are essential, we urge passengers to check before they travel and plan ahead, including ensuring they stay hydrated. Revised timetables will be confirmed as soon as possible.”
A statement from Chiltern Railways, read: “Extreme temperatures are forecast across the Chiltern Railways network this weekend and early into next week. On warm days rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20 degrees centigrade above air temperature. As rails are made from steel, they expand as they heat up and are subject to strong compression. Because of this speed restrictions can be imposed to trains which may cause delays.
“Due to extreme hot weather conditions, customers with tickets for travel on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th July may use their ticket to travel on Sunday 17th July, Wednesday 20th or Thursday 21st of July.”
What has Network Rail said about the heatwave disruption in its own words?
Kevin Groves, chief spokesman for Network Rail, said trips which typically take two hours could take “more than four hours” as emergency measures have been brought in to prevent trains derailing.
He told Sky News: “Certainly later on today that (buckling) is a strong possibility, which is why, from about midday today through till 8pm tonight, there will be large swathes of England and Wales that will have emergency heat-related speed restrictions placed on the rail network.”
Mr Groves promised refunds to any passengers who booked journeys on Monday and Tuesday but are rearranging travel for later in the week.
“Our advice to passengers if they can, today and tomorrow, is only travel if it’s really necessary; otherwise try and shift your arrangements to later in the week and you’ll get a full refund,” he said.
Jake Kelly, spokesman for Network Rail, warned of travel disruption across the country. He said services returning to normal on Wednesday “will depend on the damage that the weather does to the infrastructure” over the course of Monday and Tuesday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Kelly said: “Our advice very strongly to customers in England and Wales today and tomorrow is to only travel if absolutely essential, and to expect a very reduced train service and delays.
“We’re spending hundreds of millions of pounds a year on making the railway more resilient but ultimately faced with weather like we’ve never faced before, the infrastructure will suffer so we’ve had to put in place arrangements.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Mr Kelly said: “We hope and expect to run a full service on Wednesday and beyond, but that will depend on the damage that the weather does to the infrastructure over the next couple of days. We have lots of plans in place to make sure that we can run.”
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