Pre-empting headlines about train disruption because of heat, Network Rail has released a comprehensive media briefing on why rails buckle in the heat.
The briefing lays out how operators try to minimise the risk of disruption to passengers when steel tracks expand due to heat, with extreme temperatures causing rails to go into compression and eventually buckle.
Network Rail explains that repairs can’t be carried out until the temperature has fallen, and that’s why there’s disruption.
It also explains how it tries to head-off the problem, including talking about the risk-assessments, using sprinkler system to cool temperatures at key junctions and how speed restrictions mean less force is exerted on the track thereby reducing the risk of buckling.
It also explained why the problem occurs more frequently in the UK thank in some other countries, explaining the use and cost implications of slab tracks, where track is laid on reinforced concrete slabs rather than on sleepers and ballast, preventing tracks from buckling.