Heatwave causes ‘significant disruption’ on Merseyrail as trains cancelled - passengers told not to travel

The train operator is suffering issues with tracks and equipement as the region is set to be hit with record temperatures.

Merseyrail has advised passengers not to travel on Tuesday with soaring temperatures causing severe disruption to train services and equipment.

Heading into the second day of amber and red weather warnings for the region, temperatures are expected to hit a high of around 36°C.

The extreme heat is set to affect the track the trains run on and the electricity equipment used to power the network.

This will cause ‘significant disruption’ to services on Tuesday 19 July, with the number of trains running and journey times seriously affected and some routes closed completely.

Passengers are advised not to travel unless essential and to check services beforehand.

Which Merseyrail routes are affected by heatwave?

On the West Kirby and New Brighton lines, services will only run between Birkenhead North and Liverpool city centre with a 15-minute frequency. No rail replacement buses will run.

Chester and Ellesmere Port services will only run between Rock Ferry and Liverpool city centre again with a 15-minute frequency. No rail replacement buses will run.

A 15-minute service will operate on the Southport to Hunts Cross line. There will be a limited service at the Bank Hall, Hightown, Hall Road and Hillside stations which will have a 30-minute service.

On the Hunts Cross line, services will start and terminate at Liverpool South Parkway. Rail replacement buses will continue to run between Liverpool South Parkway and Hunts Cross stations.

On the Kirkby line no train services or rail replacement buses will run.

On the Ormskirk line a normal service will operate.

All of these changes will be in place from the start to end of service on Tuesday 19 July.

What’s been said

Zoe Hands, chief operating officer at Merseyrail said: “We apologise to Merseyrail passengers for the reduction of some services, this is due to a number of heat related issues with the infrastructure which mean our trains are unable to operate as normal.

“If you do have to travel, please remember to take water with you and to leave more time for your journey as disruption is possible. We are confident that services will return to normal from Wednesday onwards”

Kara Wood, of Network Rail North West, said: ”We’re sorry to announce that due to the unprecedented heatwave forecast on Tuesday, we're restricting some services on the Merseyrail network as a safety precaution.

”The predicted high temperatures could cause track temperatures to reach more than 50°C. When steel becomes very hot, it expands and rails can bend, flex and, in serious cases, buckle. These could lead to some trains being delayed, cancelled or stranded.”

Hot weather preparations and precautions

Merseyrail say staff have been out in force over the weekend to prepare the network for the heatwave.

Ms Hands said:  “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.”

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.