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Extreme weather hits US and UK transit systems

As temperatures in North Texas exceed 44°C on 20 July, speed restrictions were seen across the light rail service in Dallas. DART

Heat spikes across the US and UK have seen light rail lines closed, widespread speed restrictions and vehicles removed from service due to concerns over the effects of record-breaking temperatures on track and overhead lines.

The US National Weather Service issued a week of heat advisories in areas housing more than 100m people, and excessive heat warnings for 19-20 July for more than 80% of the population as temperatures were forecast to exceed 32°C.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) implemented 48km/h (30mph) speed restrictions on its LRT network between 14.00-21.00 on 20 July. With temperatures reaching 44°C, passengers were advised to expect journey delays of 10-15 minutes.

“We’re registering temperatures between 145 and 150 degrees [60-65°C] on the rail,” a DART spokesperson said. “This can lead to warping of the rails and sagging of the catenary lines.”

In California, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit has increased infrastructure inspections in areas prone to heat impacts, and reduced its threshold to apply speed restrictions.

Meanwhile, an extreme heat burst hit areas of England from 17 to 20 July, with highs of more than 40°C. People in many regions were advised to make essential journeys on 19 July as vehicles and infrastructure were affected, with line closures and speed restrictions on Greater Manchester Metrolink, West Midlands Metro, Nottingham Trams and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Some routes were closed entirely due to extreme heat affecting overhead lines, and Sheffield Supertram services were suspended entirely on the afternoon on 19 July.