Paddington Station 24/7 – Railway staff prepare for the summer as temperatures begin to soar.(Network Rail)

Paddington Station 24/7 – Railway staff prepare for the summer as temperatures begin to soar

(Network Rail Image)

The second series of behind the scenes documentary Paddington Station 24/7 continues on Monday 24 September as temperatures soar during a heat wave across the Western route.


The eight-part first series achieved a consistently high audience share for the Monday 9pm slot, averaging 1.3 million viewers per episode. The first half of series two, screened between March and June, was an equally big hit, with at least one million viewers tuning in for the first eight episodes.

The series follows railway workers on the Great Western Main Line as they deal with the biggest modernisation of the line for generations, major incidents which are causing disruption on the railway, huge sporting events, as well as the day-to-day challenge of running one of Britain’s busiest stations.

This week temperatures soar as passengers and staff at Paddington station cope with the hottest day of the year. High temperatures pose challenges for the railway industry, including the risk of rails buckling as the steel expands in the heat. On days when the air temperature reaches 30 degrees, the rails can be as much as 20 degrees higher. To stop this from happening, Network Rail’s track engineers stress the rails to help them resist high temperatures. Local speed restrictions are also put in place along certain stretches of track which are expanding too much, as slower trains exert fewer forces on the rails.

Outside Paddington station, team leader Mike Lungo is on the tracks stressing the rails to prepare for extremes in temperature. Mike explains:

“This has to be done before the onset of hot weather to prevent track buckling, and to reduce the chance of a speed restriction being put in place when warm temperatures spike during hot, dry days.”

Stressing the rails is just one of the ways that Network Rail prepares for hot weather. During the cooler months, maintenance teams check the tracks for stability, and fix any weaknesses before the onset of warmer weather. In certain areas, where the rails are particularly susceptible to heat, the tracks can be painted white which means they reflect the sun’s rays and can be between 5°C to 10°C cooler than unpainted rails.

Mike and his team finish stressing the tracks outside of Paddington in time for the onset of the heatwave, ensuring that the trains keep running and the travelling public can make their journeys safely.

Episode 12 of Paddington Station 24/7 will be aired on Monday 24 September on Channel 5 at 9pm with each episode shown on subsequent Monday evenings at the same time.

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