Railway staff have been out in force over the weekend to prepare the Merseyrail network for unprecedented levels of heat which are due to affect the Liverpool city region this week.
Temperatures are expected to hit a high of around 36 degrees on Tuesday which will impact both the track that trains run on, and the electricity equipment used to power the network. Customers travelling on Tuesday are being advised only to do so if it is essential and to check beforehand.
Due to Network Rail imposing speed restrictions in response to the extreme heat, Hunts Cross to Southport line trains are starting and terminating at Liverpool South Parkway. Rail replacement buses are running between Hunts Cross and Liverpool South Parkway stations in both directions.
From Tuesday morning there will be half-hourly services at Hillside, Hall Road, Hightown and Bank Hall on the Northern Line.
On the Wirral Line, Chester services are not currently calling at Green Lane and Bromborough Rake stations. Ellesmere Port services will continue to call at both stations.
These timetable changes will remain in place until the end of service on Tuesday.
Zoe Hands, Chief Operating Officer at Merseyrail, said:
“On the railway, heat can be just as challenging as freezing temperatures. Hot weather can affect the track our trains operate on and the electricity equipment used to power our services.
“When steel rails get hot they expand and start pushing against the pieces of track next to them. This can cause the rails to buckle.
“We have been preparing our network across the weekend in three ways.
“Firstly, in order to minimise tracks buckling in the heat, engineers create strategically-placed cuts in the rails to give the steel space to expand into.
“Also, we have staff in place on the rails to monitor the temperature of the steel as each train passes. If the temperature gets too hot, we may reduce the speed of the train through that section to 20mph.
“Finally, electrical equipment is protected by increasing the amount of reflective material on cabinets across the network.
“These measures ensure our network is as well prepared as possible to face the unprecedented temperatures that we expect to see this week. We would however advise that customers only travel if necessary & to check before they travel by visiting our website or Twitter service (@Merseyrail) for the latest information.”
The Met Office is predicting that Tuesday will see Liverpool’s highest ever recorded temperature breached as the summer heatwave hits the region. The previous record was 34.5 degrees Celsius, recorded in August 1990, while temperatures are expected to reach 36 degrees on Tuesday.
People are being advised by Merseyrail to travel with a soft drink or water. Merseyrail staff will be on hand to help passengers who may struggle with the heat.
Any passengers who are feeling unwell while on a train should get off at the next stop and request help from station staff. Water will be available at all staffed stations for passengers who are feeling unwell.