THOUSANDS of train passengers suffered major disruption after the UK’s highest temperatures sent part of the Scottish rail
network into meltdown yesterday.
• Temperatures across Scotland soar as Inverness registered among hottest place in Scotland yesterday
• Warm weather set to last until the end of the week, with temperatures cooling by Saturday
Bottled water was handed out to travellers wilting in the heat of Waverley station in Edinburgh after they were delayed by track and signalling problems.
Around 200 ScotRail trains – one in ten of all its services – are thought to have been cancelled or held up at the country’s second-busiest station.
The misery came as temperatures reached 28C in Edinburgh, just below the UK high of 28.7C at Strathallan in Perthshire.
Elsewhere, the warm weather was embraced by sunseekers who headed for parks and beaches across the country. Sales of ice-cream and cooling drinks soared as Scots unused to searing heat sought thirst-quenching treats, while children played in the sea and paddling pools.
Weary travellers, however, struggled with the high temperatures. Several passengers described Waverley as like a giant greenhouse, referring to the new glass roof which has made the concourse far brighter.
Lisa, a marketing executive, tweeted: “Waverley is bloody chaos and the station is like a greenhouse. Do not try & travel by train!” Edinburgh University student Catherine Forsyth tweeted: “Near enough 30 degrees and I’m stuck in Waverley due to a signalling fault. Greenhouse effect comes to mind.”
Edinburgh City Council communications manager Stewart Argo also tweeted: “At 5:15pm the station info board clearly showed every train cancelled or delayed.”
Network Rail said “excessively high temperatures” had caused signalling and points problems and forced speed restrictions on tracks. They included a points problem just west of the station, and a speed restriction near Haymarket in the West End.
A spokesman said: “We are having to thin out services to keep them moving. Trains are in the wrong place. The water [being handed out at Waverley] is to help keep people cool.”
ScotRail said most trains were delayed yesterday afternoon, including on lines to and from Glasgow, Dunblane and Fife.
Replacement buses were drafted on to the routes.
All trains to and from Bathgate, part of a secondary line to Glasgow, were cancelled in an attempt to clear the delays backlog.
A spokeswoman for ScotRail said: “Due to signalling problems at Edinburgh caused by the hot weather, most services at the station have unfortunately been delayed.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused and would like to reassure them that we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure services return to normal as quickly as possible.”
ScotRail said later that trains at Waverley were due to return to normal around 7:30pm – five and half hours after the disruption started.
Elsewhere, train speeds were halved to 30mph on stretches of on the Ayr-Glasgow line.
Rail temperatures reached 43C at Kincardine in Fife, and 38-40C just north of Glasgow Queen Street and at Portobello, Edinburgh.
Network Rail said it imposed the restrictions as a precaution in case any rails buckled under the extreme heat, or signalling was damaged.
Yesterday’s temperatures exceeding earlier record highs of 26C at the weekend in Aberdeenshire, the Met Office said.
Forecasters confirmed that the highest temperature so far this year in Scotland was in Perthshire, where a roasting 29.8C was recorded at Kindrogan, near Pitlochry, on Sunday.
Yesterday’s sunshine, stronger than the 27C maximum forecasters had predicted, was welcomed by others, who flocked to parks and beaches to enjoy the rare chance for more sunbathing after the balmy weekend.
In the west, Prestwick in Ayrshire enjoyed the longest hours of sunshine in the UK on Monday with 14.9 beating Swindon (14.7hrs).
Tony Gray, a spokesman for the Met Office, said yesterday: “Strathallan was the hottest place in the UK today, although it was not the hottest in Scotland so far this year.
“It is still below the Scottish record for the highest daily temperature, which was 32.9C on 9 August, 2003, at Greycrook in the Borders.”
There is expected to be some relief ahead for those who cannot take the heat, with today likelyto be far cooler as temperatures drop back to 23C or lower across most of the country.
However, the mercury is forecast to rise again later in the week, with tomorrow and Friday set to see temperatures return to the mid to high 20s .
The weekend is due to herald an end to the hot weather, with nowhere in Scotland predicted to be above 20C on Saturday.