The hottest day during the current heatwave is expected to be Tuesday, when temperatures in south east England could go above 35C. The present warmth has already triggered warnings about the railway. Yesterday afternoon, West Midlands Trains said: ‘Due to a speed restriction because of high track temperatures between Rugby and Milton Keynes Central fewer trains are able to run.’ Hot weather can make tracks more likely to buckle under higher speed trains, because if the air temperature is 30C the rails can be 50C.
Report finds Network Rail guilty of ‘restrictive and inflexible’ practices
Network Rail has said that unblocking the use of technology, adopting more flexible rostering and creating multifunctional teams are key to boosting productivity, which can unlock savings to fund a better pay deal and resolve the current RMT dispute. An independent study by specialist infrastructure consultancy Nichols looks at how maintenance of infrastructure and key assets is carried out in other comparable industries in the UK and Europe. The study found that Network Rail lagged behind other industries – such as water, aviation, energy and roads – especially in the way it deploys its people. The report highlights that improvements could be made, and major efficiencies unlocked. Chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘Britain deserves a railway maintenance regime that is modern and fit for the 21st century. Obstructing vital changes that make the railway and its workers safer, and that improve the reliability of services we provide, is in no one’s interest.’
Safety warning after CCTV recorded children on a level crossing
CCTV at a level crossing at Grove in Oxfordshire has recorded images of a group of children playing on the railway and putting themselves at risk. The line speed at the crossing is 125mph/200km/h. The driver of a high speed Intercity Express recently reported making an emergency brake application because of children ahead. The cameras recorded what appears to be one of the group dancing near the track as the high-speed train passes just a few centimetres away. Other children at Wantage Road crossing have been trespassing on the track, filming and photographing themselves in the four foot. One child was even seen on the line performing tricks on a scooter. Network Rail’s community safety manager Alison Kramer said: ‘The behaviour of the children captured by CCTV is really shocking and reckless. The railway is not a playground and what they are doing is extremely dangerous. It is particularly disappointing to see this sort of mindless behaviour particularly when we work so hard alongside British Transport Police in engaging with local schools and the community to educate people about how to behave safely near the railway.’
Driver tells how his train nearly hit a trespasser
A train driver manager has described how he had to turn away when he thought he was going to hit a man chasing his dog down a railway track, despite putting on the emergency brakes. The incident features in the latest episode of Greater Anglia’s Life on Rails podcast. The powerful account of what it’s like for train drivers when people trespass on the railway is given by Glen Harwood, a driver trainer manager at Greater Anglia. He said: ‘I put my brake into emergency and I’m sliding towards him. And that’s all I can do. I actually turned sideways. I was convinced I was going to hit him. And the train came to a stand and I didn’t hear a thud. I was all over the place. My heart was pounding.’