Rail travelers faced mass disruption across the UK today as all trains departed London King’s Cross was canceled and there were no direct services between Euston and Scotland after the hottest day in Britain on record.
Operators such as LNER and Thameslink again issued no travel warnings, almost every exit from London St Pancras was canceled and Eurostar Passengers had to expect delays of more than an hour due to a power failure in Lille.
The line between King’s Cross and Peterborough was closed after a major fire spread to the tracks at Sandy in Bedfordshire, causing damage to signaling and a level crossing, both of which required complex repairs.
The Sandy fire also meant a planned inspection of more than 250 miles of track on the south end of the East Coast Main Line to determine if other equipment had been damaged by the heat has not yet taken place.
And there could be more disruption this afternoon if thunderstorms hit, with the Met Office issuing a warning from 1pm to 9pm saying flooding and lightning strikes could cause “delays and some cancellations”.
Most services on the Transport for London network were back to normal operations today after two days of disruption, but the Jubilee line was experiencing significant delays following a signal failure in the North Greenwich area.
Minor delays were also reported on the Central, Circle and District lines and the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Heathrow and Reading due to late completion of engineering work in the Ealing Broadway area.
Network Rail teams are carrying out repair and rescue work after a major fire spread to the railway line at Sandy in Bedfordshire, which is on the east coast main line between Peterborough and London King’s Cross
The line between King’s Cross and Peterborough was closed after the major fire spread to the tracks at Sandy in Bedfordshire, causing damage to signaling and a level crossing, both of which require complex repairs
Network Rail teams have been working all night to restore damaged power lines at Harrow, north west London, causing significant disruption on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow
West Coast passengers are being urged to check before setting off after a fire in Harrow caused a tree to fall on the route
Drone image of power lines damaged following a fire in Harrow, north west London which is causing major disruption today
Simon Pumphrey, Infrastructure Director for Network Rail’s East Coast line, said: “The heat has presented numerous challenges for the railroad. Our teams remain on site to clean up the damage caused by the Sandy fire.
“We are working as hard as we can but the complexity of the work means there will be severe disruption to trains on the East Coast Main Line today.
“The incident has also disrupted our plans to manually inspect the route between Peterborough and King’s Cross for other damage and make repairs, so we will be working on that today.
“We are sorry if this affects your plans and we are doing what we can to resume services as soon as possible. In the meantime, please check with National Rail Inquiries or your train operator before travelling.’
There were no direct trains between London and Scotland on the West Coast Main Line today as Network Rail engineers worked to repair several sections of 25,000 volt catenary which provide power.
Teams worked all night to restore damaged power lines between Lancaster and Carnforth in Lancashire. near Harrow in North West London; at Birmingham New Street; and near Wolverhampton.
This repair work continued today at all sites meaning fewer trains will be running to and from London Euston and rail replacement buses were operating between Preston in Lancashire and Carlisle in Cumbria.
Avanti West Coast said its train services on other routes from London Euston may also be cancelled.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route manager, said: “We are sorry for the passengers affected by the damage to our electrical overhead wires during the record-breaking heat.
“Special teams worked all night but were unable to repair the cables in time for operations to begin this morning. We’re doing everything we can to get things working again.’
St Pancras was also in trouble with all trains on the East Midlands Railway (EMR) route being canceled while engineers carried out safety checks between London and Kettering. The service was to begin at 10 a.m.
The only trains leaving St Pancras today were Eurostar and Southeastern High Speed trains to Kent. EMR said checks also took place between Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber and Peterborough and Ely.
Rail travelers using the Midland Main Line north of St Pancras are advised not to travel first thing on Wednesday morning while security checks continue. This was followed by record temperatures in the East Midlands on Tuesday, which were above design limits for track and catenary equipment.
Network Rail said services on the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Kettering and London were halted yesterday afternoon for safety reasons and security checks could only be carried out in daylight today.
There will be no Thameslink services on the routes between Bedford and London via St Albans until this morning at the earliest; London and Sutton via Wimbledon or Mitcham Junctions, London and East Grinstead, Littlehampton or Orpington; and between Peterborough and Hitchin.
Gary Walsh, Network Rail’s East Midlands route director, said: “We are really sorry that the impact of the extreme weather earlier this week is affecting passengers for a third day. Our teams will be on the rails at dawn to carry out the necessary inspections so that we can fully reopen the network as soon as possible.
“Unless any serious faults are found, we expect the route between Bedford and London to open later in the morning and the routes to Kettering to phase out soon after. We have additional response teams on shifts who respond as quickly as possible if damage is detected. I urge all passengers to check with their operator before departing.’
The Caledonian Sleeper, which operates night services between Euston and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, has been suspended – with some passengers spending the night on trains in London or Scotland.