Catchin' trains to catch some rays

This summer, we’re providing more carriages on busy routes to the coast, as well as extra 'summer special' services, and once on board you’ll find that fresh air flows through all of our trains from air conditioning, vents or windows you can open if you need to.

Wait until the coast is clear

You may still find trains are busier on warmer days as people head out to cool off at the seaside. Our popular destinations are Margate, Hastings, Broadstairs, Folkestone, Herne Bay and Whitstable. Trains can be busy towards the coast from 1030 to 1330 and returning between 1600 to 1900, so avoid these times if you can. You can use our handy SeatFinder tools to find the quietest trains.

On popular seaside days, we’ll also have a ‘crowdbuster’ train on stand-by between Faversham and Ramsgate, longer weekday trains from Victoria to Ramsgate and there’ll be extra staff on hand to help ensure your trip runs smoothly.

Seaside memories right on cue

There may be one-way systems and queuing arrangements at stations to help keep you moving, so remember to bring a bottle of water and leave plenty of time for your journey.

Watch out for tan lines and train times

When the temperature soars, things really heat up for our rail infrastructure – and it can’t cool down with a cheeky pint or an ice cream. Metal rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20°C hotter than air temperature, and have been known to get as hot as 50°C! And because they’re made from steel – they expand when they heat up, so rails may buckle, and points can expand.

When our monitoring systems tell us that a section of track is likely to expand, we’ll put in place speed restrictions to reduce the chance of rails buckling, so you may find your journey a little slower than usual. We work with Network Rail well in advance to make sure that your railway is ‘hot weather ready’, then keep a close eye on the forecast and check the infrastructure throughout the summer.

Rain, rain, go away

It's not just sunny days that arrive in summer. Torrential rain creating flood water can cause trackside points and signalling equipment that rely on intricate wiring and power supplies to fail, and sometimes ballast that supports the sleepers is washed away. This all needs to be replaced before trains can run on the tracks again.

Our teams will be at key locations ready to respond, and we may need to slow trains down to prevent damage and keep you moving.

We’ll weather the storm

We also watch out for strong winds which can blow trees and objects into overhead lines, damaging them. And trees and objects like trampolines and garden furniture can blow onto the tracks, blocking the line.

Chainsaw teams will be at key locations ready to respond, and we may need to slow trains down to prevent damage and keep you moving.

How we prepare:

  • Check that train windows, air-conditioning and vents are working correctly – nearly half our trains are air-conditioned with systems that draw in a full carriage worth of fresh air from outside every 6-9 minutes
  • Bespoke weather forecasts and high-tech equipment to monitor rail temperatures
  • Reflective paint so rails stay cool and expand less – rails painted white can be 10°C cooler!
  • Helicopter inspections of the tracks using a thermal-imaging camera
  • Vegetation and litter cleared to prevent line-side fires
  • Speed restrictions where rails are particularly hot, so that trains can move safely along the track
  • Teams at key locations ready to respond to flooding or strong winds

How you can prepare

We know just how tricky it can be to stay hydrated in the summer. Between dashing to work, gym, or school pick-up, you could find yourself feeling faint if you’ve not remembered to cool down with a cold drink. That’s why we’ve come up with some tips for keeping your cool while travelling by train this summer:

  • Carry water with you
  • Don’t board a train if you feel unwell
  • If you feel unwell on-board, avoid using the emergency alarm and get off at the next stop instead, where our staff will be able to help you more quickly

It’s not just hot weather that can make an appearance in summer. Help us weather the storms. If you’re a railway neighbour, please secure any trampolines and garden furniture to stop it blowing onto the train tracks.

If you’re travelling with us during more extreme weather in summer, please be ready to adjust your travel plans a little, as we may need to put in place speed restrictions or take other action to keep you moving safely.

You can keep up-to-date on our service disruption page or by following us on Twitter.