Hot Weather

Travelling in high temperatures and how it impacts the railway

Travelling in the hot weather

Travelling in the heat and hotter months can be more uncomfortable, especially during peak hours.

Keeping hydrated is one of the best ways to stay comfortable. London Waterloo has a free bottle refill with fresh water on the balcony opposite platforms 1 and 2 – ideal for topping up on the journey home.

If you’re pregnant, then staying hydrated is even more important. Drink 10-12 glasses of water a day – more if there’s a heatwave. Stick to the shade and avoid standing on open platforms in the middle of the day if you can. Most of our trains have air conditioning but it’s always worthwhile carrying a fan. Don’t forget you can also apply for our Mums to be scheme and request priority seating if you need to sit down.

If you’re feeling ill then leave the train at the next station. We can arrange help for you through a help point. Please don't use the emergency alarms - they can stop the train and prevent us getting help to you.


How high temperatures can impact the railway

Hot weather brings several challenges to the railway, not least on the infrastructure we rely on for our trains.

Rail temperatures can reach up to 20 degrees warmer than the air around them on a sunny day. Because the rails are made of steel, they expand as they get hotter. This can make them start to curve - a process known as "buckling".

Network Rail monitor track temperatures with remote monitoring systems. When these systems show that a section of track is too hot, and expanding too much, then they can ask that trains run at a lower speed. Slower trains exert less force on the track and cut the chance of buckling. If the rails do buckle, then the line will be closed so that their engineers can repair them.

We work with our partners at Network Rail and with specialist weather forecasters to look at the expected temperatures. This means we can prepare for hot weather. Network Rail prepare infrastructure for high temperatures year-round by:

  • surveying tracks each winter and repairing weak spots before the temperature rises
  • painting certain parts of some rails white - this can make them 5-10 degrees cooler compared to an unpainted rail
  • stretching long sections of rail as they're installed, meaning there is less chance of buckling
  • leaving small gaps between short sections of rail to allow for expansion
  • installing temperature probes to give early warning of hot rails, allowing engineers to take action earlier
  • laying some tracks on reinforced concrete slabs to make them more secure and prevent buckling

Find out more about how Network Rail manage the railway during hot weather.