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24 July: news in brief

Hot weather slows down trains

TRAIN operators in England are warning that very hot weather is expected to slow down their trains, particularly tomorrow, when temperatures in the London area are forecast to reach 37C. Network Rail says rail temperatures can be 15C higher than the air temperature, which means the rails could top 50C, making buckling more likely. In response speed limits are being imposed, because slower trains are less likely to cause distortion in the track. Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services will be reduced, so frequencies will be lower and journey times longer. It is also likely that many other operators will be affected by the heat, including LNER, GWR and Northern. The temperature is expected to be lower on Friday.

RMT members vote for sleeper strike

THE RMT says its Caledonian Sleeper members have ‘voted overwhelmingly’ in favour of a strike and action short of a strike, because of what the union describes as ‘intolerable pressure on staff’ following the partial introduction of new trains. The CAF-built ‘hotels on wheels’ have been running on Lowland routes since the spring, but their introduction on Highland services has been delayed repeatedly. There is currently no date for their introduction north of the central belt. The RMT said its members are in favour of industrial action by more than ten to one, and the next steps will now be considered by the union’s national executive. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Our members on the Caledonian Sleeper are sick and tired of paying the personal price for the botched introduction of the new fleet and that is why they have delivered this overwhelming vote for action. It is time for SERCO to wake up and take note of the appalling working conditions their mismanagement has lumped on their staff.’ Caledonian Sleeper managing director Ryan Flaherty said he was ‘deeply disappointed’. He continued: ‘I believe we have shown a real commitment to dealing with the issues the RMT has raised and indeed there was an acceptance on all sides that progress was being made. We remain open and willing to engage in further talks.’

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