Rail passengers faced mass disruption across Britain today as all trains out of London King’s Cross were cancelled and there were no direct services between Euston and Scotland following the UK’s hottest day on record.
Operators including LNER and Thameslink issued ‘do not travel’ warnings again, almost every train out of London St Pancras was axed and Eurostar passengers faced delays of more than an hour due to a power failure in Lille.
King’s Cross resembled a dormitory this morning as stranded passengers slept on suitcases, tables and benches while waiting for news of whether trains heading north would restart again after they were all cancelled yesterday.
The line between King’s Cross and Peterborough was shut after a major fire spread onto the tracks at Sandy in Bedfordshire, causing damage to signalling equipment and a level crossing which both require complex repairs.
The fire at Sandy also meant a planned inspection of more than 250 miles of track on the southern end of the East Coast Main Line to see whether any other equipment was damaged in the heat has not yet taken place.
And there could be further disruption this afternoon when thunderstorms hit, with the Met Office issuing a warning from 1pm until 9pm saying flooding and lightning strikes could result in ‘delays and some cancellations’.
Most services on the Transport for London network were back up and running normally again today after two days of disruption, but there were severe delays on the Jubilee line after signal failure in the North Greenwich area.
There were also minor delays reported on the Central, Circle and District lines – and on the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Heathrow and Reading because of late-finishing engineering work in the Ealing Broadway area.
The line between King’s Cross and Peterborough has been shut after the major fire spread onto the tracks at Sandy in Bedfordshire, causing damage to signalling equipment and a level crossing which both require complex repairs
Teams from Network Rail are carrying out repair and recovery work after a major fire spread onto the railway line at Sandy in Bedfordshire, which is on the East Coast Main Line route between Peterborough and London King’s Cross
Network Rail teams have been working throughout the night trying to restore power lines damaged at Harrow in North West London, which is causing major disruption on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow
Passengers sleep on suitcase and benches at London King’s Cross this morning as all trains are cancelled out of the station
Passengers sleep on benches at London King’s Cross station this morning as all trains are cancelled out of the station
At King’s Cross today, the queue for refunds and information stretched along the concourse and restaurants were full. Among those trying to travel today was journalist Karen Bourne, who was attempting to get to Peterborough.
She told MailOnline: ‘I got in from Barcelona yesterday and I was due to go to Peterborough last night. Then I found that the trains have been cancelled and I booked a train for 9am today, but I heard there has been a fire.
‘So that’s quite understandable if we can’t travel. I’m looking to try and share a cab with people to get there.’
How is today’s major rail disruption affecting your local train operator?
Avanti West Coast: No direct trains between London Euston and Scotland, and all lines between Lancaster and Carlisle and in the Birmingham New Street area are blocked due to severe damage to the overhead electric wires
c2c: Normal service
Caledonian Sleeper: All services cancelled with passengers told to go home
Chiltern Railways: Signalling fault between Leamington Spa and Banbury means trains are running at a reduced speed towards London
CrossCountry: All lines blocked in the Birmingham New Street area because of damaged overhead electric wires; trains cancelled or diverted via Bescot Stadium
East Midlands Railway: No trains between London St Pancras and Nottingham or Corby until 10am; no trains from Cleethorpes to Barton-on-Humber until 11am; no trains between Peterborough and Lincoln until 9.30am
Eurostar: Due to a power failure in Lille, all services between London St Pancras, Paris and Lille are being delayed by an hour or more
Gatwick Express: Normal service
Grand Central: Operator warns passengers not to travel to or from London King’s Cross until at least 12pm
Great Northern: Most of the network closed this morning, with limited services set to restart later on Bedford to London via St Albans City; St Albans City/London to Sutton via Wimbledon or Mitcham Junction; and Luton/London to Rainham
Great Western Railway: Normal service but ‘possibility of some short notice alterations’
Greater Anglia: No trains from Wickford towards Southminster due to a signalling fault
Heathrow Express: Services delayed by up to 15 minutes due to engineering works not finished on time
Hull Trains: No trains to and from London King’s Cross with alternative routes also blocked and passengers advised ‘not to travel’
LNER: Due to urgent repairs to the railway between London King’s Cross and Peterborough, all lines are blocked. Operator says: ‘Please do not travel to or from King’s Cross today’.
London Northwestern Railway: Repair works ongoing in Hatch End on the line to and from London Euston following damage caused by fires
Lumo: No trains to and from London King’s Cross and passengers told ‘not to travel’
Merseyrail: Normal service
Northern: Services between Worksop and Lincoln being disrupted due to a signalling fault; services between Lancaster and Carnforth cancelled due to overhead wire damage; services between Scarborough and Hull cannot run due to damage caused by heat
ScotRail: Services between Inverness and Edinburgh are delayed due to signalling fault between Inverness and Carrbridge
South Western Railway: Points failure at Virginia Watera and signalling issue at Ascot are causing delays
Southeastern: Disruption to High Speed services due to signalling problem between Stratford and London St Pancras; delays between Dover and Ramsgate due signalling fault in the Martin Mill; no trains between Brixton and Beckenham Junction while track in Penge tunnel is repaired
Southern: No services on the Clapham Junction to Watford Junction/Hemel Hempstead line ‘until further notice’
Stansted Express: Half-hourly service in place
Thameslink: No trains until at least late morning on the Peterborough to London route; Welwyn Garden City and Moorgate (Great Northern Metro); Stevenage and Moorgate (Great Northern Metro); and at Kings Lynn, Ely, Cambridge and to / from London
TransPennine Express: Severe damage to the overhead electric wires between Lancaster and Carlisle means all lines are blocked
Transport for London: Severe delays on the Jubilee line after signal failure; and minor delays on the Central, Circle and District lines and on the Elizabeth line
Transport for Greater Manchester: Normal service
Transport for Wales: Normal service
West Midlands Railway: Trains running between Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury will start or terminate at Wolverhampton
Retired teacher David Carr, 73, had been hoping to get to York with his wife Diane yesterday. He told MailOnline today: ‘I suppose it’s in the hands of the big fella above.
‘With all this modern technology you would hope that things would run a bit more smoothly. But there’s nothing the train services can do when the lines buckle under the heat. It has been unprecedented weather.
‘My wife and I don’t know when we’ll be able to get home. Hopefully the trains will be running this afternoon.’
Simon Pumphrey, Infrastructure Director for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said: ‘The heat has caused numerous challenges for the railway. Our teams remain on site to deal with the damage caused by the fire at Sandy.
‘We’re working as hard as we can, but the complexity of the work means there will be severe disruption to trains on the East Coast Main Line today.
‘The incident has also disrupted our plans to manually inspect the route between Peterborough and King’s Cross for any other damage and carry out any repairs, so we’ll be working today to do that.
‘We’re sorry if this impacts on your plans and we’re doing what we can to restart services as soon as possible. In the meantime, please check before travelling via National Rail Enquiries or with your train operator.’
On the West Coast Main Line, there were no direct trains between London and Scotland today as Network Rail engineers worked to repair multiple sections of 25,000-volt overhead electric cables which power services.
Teams worked throughout the night trying to restore the power lines that were damaged between Lancaster and Carnforth in Lancashire; at Harrow in North West London; at Birmingham New Street; and near Wolverhampton.
This repair work continued today in all locations meaning fewer trains will be running in and out of London Euston, and rail replacement buses were in operation between Preston in Lancashire and Carlisle in Cumbria.
Avanti West Coast said its train services on other routes out of London Euston may also be cancelled.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, said: ‘We’re sorry to passengers impacted by the damaged caused to our overhead electric lines during the record-breaking heat.
‘Specialist teams worked all night but have been unable to fix the cables in time for the start of service this morning. We’re doing everything we can to get things back up and running.’
There were also major issues at St Pancras, with all trains cancelled on the East Midlands Railway (EMR) route while engineers carried out safety checks between London and Kettering. Services were expected to start at 10am.
The only trains running out of St Pancras today were Eurostar and Southeastern High Speed services to Kent. EMR said there were also checks taking place between Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber, and Peterborough and Ely.
Rail passengers using the Midland Main Line north from St Pancras are being advised not to travel first thing on Wednesday morning while safety checks continue. It follows record temperatures in the East Midlands on Tuesday which were higher than the design limits for track and overhead line equipment.
Network Rail said services were stopped on the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Kettering and London yesterday afternoon as a safety precaution, and the safety checks could only be made in the daylight today.
There will be no Thameslink services until late morning at the earliest today on the routes between Bedford and London via St Albans; London and Sutton via Wimbledon or Mitcham Junctions, London and East Grinstead, Littlehampton or Orpington; and between Peterborough and Hitchin.
Gary Walsh, route director for Network Rail in the East Midlands, said: ‘We’re really sorry that the impact of the extreme weather at the start of this week is affecting passengers for a third day. Our teams will be out travelling the rails at first light to carry out the necessary inspections to allow us to fully reopen the network as soon as possible.
‘As long as no serious faults are found we expect to have the route between Bedford and London open during the morning and the lines out to Kettering soon afterwards. We have extra response teams on shift who will respond as quickly as possible if any damage is found. I’d ask all passengers to check with your operator before you set off.’
The Caledonian Sleeper which runs overnight services between Euston and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, was suspended – with some passengers spending the night on trains held in London or Scotland.
National Rail has told customers to check before setting off on their journeys and to only travel if absolutely necessary.
It said on its website: ‘A huge amount of work has been completed overnight to fix problems with the track and overhead wires caused by the heat yesterday.
West Coast passengers are being urged to check before they set off after a tree fell onto the track at Harrow during a fire
Drone image of power lines damaged following a fire at Harrow in North West London which is causing major disruption today
Passengers sleep on tables at a Wasabi branch at London King’s Cross today as all trains are cancelled out of the station
Passengers wait for updates at London King’s Cross station this morning as all trains are cancelled out of the station
‘Network Rail teams are continuing to work tirelessly to make the repairs so we can get services back up and running for passengers but there is still disruption to services throughout the day. So, for anyone travelling today, please take time to check before you travel.’
It comes as after temperatures topped 40C in the UK for the first time ever.
A new record for the hottest day ever seen, of 40.3C, was recorded in Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, yesterday afternoon – beating the previous record of 38.7C in Cambridge three years ago, by 1.6C.
Amid the sweltering heat, major incidents were announced by fire brigades in London, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire as dozens of fires broke out amid the sweltering heat – with flames ripping through houses, schools and churches.
The temperature is set to drop by up to 10C in some areas today, with heavy showers and thunderstorms to lash parts of the country, potentially causing localised flooding.
The Met Office said 34 observation sites across England provisionally broke the previous all-time record, ranging from Bramham, in West Yorkshire, to Charlwood, in Surrey, while a further five had equalled it yesterday.
A total of six sites, mostly in Greater London, saw temperatures reach or exceed 40C.
However, two ‘large-scale’ incidents took place in Upminster and the village of Wennington in East London, where black smoke billowed into the air, while flames destroyed buildings and ravaged nearby fields.
Several other significant incidents also occurred in the capital, with people urged not to have barbecues or bonfires due to the ‘unprecedented’ challenges crews face.
Elsewhere, a serious blaze occurred in Barnsley when a row of houses in the Moorland Avenue area was consumed by flames, with crews continuing to battle fires elsewhere in the area.
Doncaster Council said a major blaze in Clayton also spread to three residential properties and there were reports of houses on fire in the Kiverton Park and Maltby areas of Rotherham.
Nine people have died since Saturday in swimming accidents.
Interim deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin, said the heatwave was forcing hospitals to scale back the number of planned surgeries and install cooling units and try to cool down IT server rooms.
And an East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said the service had seen above-average call numbers since Monday afternoon and it expected to still be seeing an impact from heat-related illness into the weekend.
Road congestion in several cities, including Birmingham, London and Manchester was down yesterday, as people heeded advice not to travel, while commuter numbers were also down on the Tube and bus services in the capital.
And sales of fans, ice cream and paddling pools and burgers rocketed as the heatwave sparked a spending spree on summer essentials, according to retailers, while tech experts urged smartphone users to keep their gadgets out of the sun to ensure they continue working properly.
The Met Office said there would be a showery and thundery breakdown of the heat today, with a yellow warning for thunderstorms in place for parts of south east, east and central England in the afternoon and evening.
It warns people to expect flooding or lightning strikes, delays and some cancellations to train and bus services, spray and sudden flooding, road closures and possible power cuts.
It will be fresher for most places, although some parts of East Anglia will still see temperatures reach as high as 30C. Today’s rain, where it occurs, will be much heavier than yesterday.