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Britain’s Transport Secretary has warned that heat-related travel disruption will happen “much more regularly” as the country’s infrastructure buckles amid an unprecedented heat wave.
“A lot of our infrastructure just isn’t designed for those kinds of temperatures,” Grant Shapps told Sky News on Tuesday.
Temperatures in the UK are expected to hit a record high of 41C on Tuesday as an unusual atmospheric pattern carries warm air from southern Europe further north.
The Met Office, the national weather service, said Monday night was tentatively the hottest on record in the UK.
“Temperatures haven’t fallen below 25C in places,” the office said in a tweet, which topped the previous highest daily low of 23.9C, recorded in Brighton on August 3, 1990.
“On the railroads. . . on the ground, these rails can heat up to 50°C, 60°C or more, which means they are at serious risk of warping, so you end up having to run the trains slower,” Shapps said. .
Network Rail and some train operators have issued a ‘red weather warning’ and advised London commuters to avoid travel if possible.
The hot weather has led to the cancellation of some train services on the East Coast Mainline, Thameslink, Great Northern and East Midlands lines. There are also significant delays and cancellations on Transport for London Tube services.
“We are going to see this much more regularly. We’ve seen many of the hottest days on record in the last 10 to 15 years, so we’re going to see that more,” Shapps said.
He added that the UK needed to upgrade its infrastructure and that could take “decades. . . to replace everything.