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UK heatwave: More delays for travellers despite temperatures easing

Commuters faced disruption at London St Pancras Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Commuters faced disruption at London St Pancras after overhead wires were damaged

Rail and air passengers are being hit by more delays after record-breaking temperatures caused travel chaos on Thursday.

Rail companies feared rail lines would buckle – but it was sagging overhead cables which have led to problems.

Thameslink – which has half of its lines not running – and East Midlands Trains are among the worst affected with passengers told not to travel.

There are also delays and cancellations at London airports.

Martin White and his wife are currently stuck at Naples Airport after their Thursday night flight to Gatwick Airport was cancelled.

“Everybody is packed liked sardines and there are fraying tempers,” Mr White said.

Friday is expected to be cooler than Thursday, with temperatures ranging from 23C to 25C in most areas (73F to 77F), rising to 27C in south-east England.

During the day it will be mostly dry but rain is expected to develop across northern and eastern areas of the UK overnight.

Image caption Passengers were stuck on a train near Peterborough on Thursday because of damage to overhead wires

Speed restrictions across parts of the rail network on Thursday prevented lines from buckling in the heat, but damage to overhead lines left some commuters stranded in London on Thursday night.

Despite working “flat out” to repair the damage, disruption is likely to continue into Friday morning, said Network Rail, who advised passengers to check with their train operator before travelling.

  • East Midlands Trains urge passengers not to travel on its London St Pancras/Nottingham/Sheffield route, and an emergency timetable is in place
  • Thameslink services – which operate on part of the same route – is also disrupted, with half of its lines unavailable
  • Greater Anglia and Stansted Express services will be disrupted until 10:00
  • All operators on the East Coast Main Line will be disrupted until 10:00
  • In Birmingham, passengers on all routes have been told to expect delays until 11:00
  • Eurostar warned of delays of between 30 and 60 minutes on its Brussels route
  • London North Eastern Railway said there will be further cancellations on lines going to King’s Cross, London

Many operators said tickets for Friday could be used the following day, and offered compensation to season ticket holders who did not travel on Thursday.

However, Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates trains in south-east England, said passengers with an annual pass would only be entitled to compensation if they attempted a journey on Thursday and were delayed – despite it urging customers to avoid travelling where possible.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “All passengers told not to travel due to extreme weather should be entitled to claim compensation.”

The disruption to flights on Thursday evening and into Friday morning was caused by storms across Europe.

At Gatwick and Luton airports there were cancellations “suddenly popping up” on Thursday night, according to the Independent’s travel editor Simon Calder.

“Dozens of them on easyJet but also some cancellations and very long delays on British Airways,” he said.

In the early hours of Friday, British Airways said “severe thunderstorms” had caused “significant delays and cancellations”.

Thursday saw the UK’s second hottest day – and hottest July day – on record, with temperatures reaching 38.1C (100.6F) in Cambridge.

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Media captionWhy is it so hot and is climate change to blame?

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