49 degrees Celsius track temperatures buckle rail at Carlisle

Temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius are usually reserved for Death Valley in California or certain parts of the Middle East – not the north of England.

But yesterday as the air temperatures in Cumbria hit the mid to high 20s, the sun-baked tracks north of Carlisle railway station hit 49 degrees Celsius.

This caused the rails to expand and bend slightly in their settings, as shown in the photograph taken by a Network Rail engineer.

Ian Joslin, head of Network Rail’s Carlisle delivery unit, said: “We maintain our rails to withstand fluctuations in temperature so they flex as little as possible. However sustained baking by the sun can occasionally lead to steel rails buckling, like they did yesterday at Carlisle. When this happens we slow down trains to keep everyone safe.”

Services were temporarily restricted from using the affected portion of track. Network Rail engineers monitor track temperatures continually, but even more keenly during heat waves.

For more information on how tracks behave in hot weather please visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/buckled-rail/