The hot weather, particularly direct sunlight, can cause track temperatures to reach more than 50°C. Therefore a system of 60 solar-powered weather stations was installed to monitor extreme conditions in real-time last year.
Steel rails absorb heat easily and tend to hover around 20 degrees above the surrounding air temperature. When steel becomes very hot it expands and rails can bend, flex and, in serious cases, buckle.
By using the new technology, Network Rail teams are ready to respond to any issues caused by the heatwave and impose speed limits in local areas if they are needed.
Denise Wetton, Network Rail's Central route director, said: “Keeping passengers moving is always our top priority. But we want people to be prepared. If the soaring temperatures do lead to us having to put in place slower speeds for safety reasons, please bear with us as our engineers work to fix the problem. It may mean some journeys take longer.
The network of 25,000 volt overhead electric cables which power cables is also susceptible to the hot weather. It can cause the steel wires to overheat and expand causing them to sag. They can then hang too low and get caught on passing trains which could cause them to come down.