British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

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British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby Statkowski » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:22 am

News reports from Southern England state rails are buckling due to the heat. It would appear to an American that 80-degree or 90-degree weather shouldn't have any effect, but I don't think their expansion joints, if they have them at all, are prepared for such. 90 degrees here yesterday. Okay, Summer's a little bit early. 90 degrees there? It's the end of the world.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby george matthews » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:02 pm

Statkowski wrote:News reports from Southern England state rails are buckling due to the heat. It would appear to an American that 80-degree or 90-degree weather shouldn't have any effect, but I don't think their expansion joints, if they have them at all, are prepared for such. 90 degrees here yesterday. Okay, Summer's a little bit early. 90 degrees there? It's the end of the world.

Yes speeds are being reduced in many parts of the system. The very hot weather will probably cool down by about Thursday of this week.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby Statkowski » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:16 pm

Saw one report of tracks buckling at 27°C (80°F). On this side of the Atlantic that's only starting to get warm. And that's why our continuous welded rail is installed in 1,500-foot lengths, and no longer than that. Gotta leave room at the end for expansion.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby george matthews » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:20 pm

Statkowski wrote:Saw one report of tracks buckling at 27°C (80°F). On this side of the Atlantic that's only starting to get warm. And that's why our continuous welded rail is installed in 1,500-foot lengths, and no longer than that. Gotta leave room at the end for expansion.

This is the warmest period for 40 years. Track is installed to cope with expected temperatures - not unusually hot ones, which would cost more.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby johnthefireman » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:24 pm

Weather is a British obsession. We're always surprised when it snows in winter and when it gets hot in summer. We're surprised when leaves fall on the track in autumn. What would we have to talk about if everything went smoothly?

I think with continuously welded rail it's not only about the expansion gaps but also pre-stressing of the rail. It makes sense to pre-stress it to the range of temperatures which is normally expected. Does anyone know more about this, as I'm pretty vague about the technical details?
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:42 pm

This was discussed in some forum (which I can't find at the moment) with a consensus just about what John said: rail is prestressed for the prevailing temperature range, and anything hotter is going to cause problems. There is some opinion in the US that CSX is more of a "nervous Nellie" in that regard than other railroads in its area.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby Statkowski » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:55 am

ExCon90 wrote:There is some opinion in the US that CSX is more of a "nervous Nellie" in that regard than other railroads in its area.


Two sayings immediately come to mind:

a. Plan for the worst; hope for the best.

b. Better safe than sorry.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:33 pm

Statkowski wrote:
ExCon90 wrote:There is some opinion in the US that CSX is more of a "nervous Nellie" in that regard than other railroads in its area.


Two sayings immediately come to mind:

a. Plan for the worst; hope for the best.

b. Better safe than sorry.

Actual engineering uses a more sophisticated analysis. The forecasts for tomorrow show that temperatures are expected to decline.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby litz » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:46 pm

george matthews wrote:Actual engineering uses a more sophisticated analysis.


And this is why the trains are still moving in Phoenix (and the airplanes aren't).
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:13 pm

Statkowski wrote:
Two sayings immediately come to mind:

a. Plan for the worst; hope for the best.

b. Better safe than sorry.


But cost-benefit analysis also comes into it for commercial companies. What would be the extra cost of pre-stressing the rail for a wider temperature range that might only occur occasionally, compared to the cost of the penalty payments that Network Rail would have to make for delays caused by buckled rails on those few occasions?
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby george matthews » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:34 pm

johnthefireman wrote:
Statkowski wrote:
Two sayings immediately come to mind:

a. Plan for the worst; hope for the best.

b. Better safe than sorry.


But cost-benefit analysis also comes into it for commercial companies. What would be the extra cost of pre-stressing the rail for a wider temperature range that might only occur occasionally, compared to the cost of the penalty payments that Network Rail would have to make for delays caused by buckled rails on those few occasions?

The forecast suggests that the highish temperatures that were last encountered in 1976 - I remember it then - are going to decline tomorrow. There have been no reports of dangerous incidents on the rail system here. I think there is no likely danger. Americans should recognise that railways originated in Britain, and that the network is much denser than in the US. There has been a long period of research and regulation.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby Statkowski » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:23 pm

george matthews wrote:Americans should recognise that railways originated in Britain, and that the network is much denser than in the US.


Many Americans do recognize such and understand the differences between the two. And apart from the nominal track gauge for both being 4'8½", in many ways they are as different as man vs. woman - similar in many ways, but so very different in others.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby george matthews » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:04 am

Statkowski wrote:
george matthews wrote:Americans should recognise that railways originated in Britain, and that the network is much denser than in the US.


Many Americans do recognize such and understand the differences between the two. And apart from the nominal track gauge for both being 4'8½", in many ways they are as different as man vs. woman - similar in many ways, but so very different in others.

Yes, the recent high temperatures were noted and speed restrictions were called for in certain places but I don't think any movements were cancelled. But temperatures were not in fact all that high. So thank you for your concern but Network Rail, the operator of the infrastructure, has the situation under observation and control.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby David Benton » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:46 am

I remember the temp hitting 30 degrees in London in the 1990's, and dont recall any tracks buckling. But i think it was a very brief high temp, whereas this is more sustained , and widespread. I can still picture the Evening Standard , with a huge "30" on its front page.
Here in New Zealand, the heat restrictions come in effect when the rail reaches 40 degrees , generally an air temp of high 20's will have the rail that hot by early afternoon . they are slowly destressing the rail to avoid heat restrictions , but most trains run at night, so it is not a huge priority.
I would think English rail is alot lighter and lower profile than heavy haul American rail.
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Re: British Rails Can't Handle Hot Weather

Postby Statkowski » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:19 am

David Benton wrote:I would think English rail is alot lighter and lower profile than heavy haul American rail.


Lighter, yes, but not by too much. Went searching on-line and it appears the newest "heavy" rail for British rails is 120-pound rail while 132-pound rail appears to be the norm for North American lines.

The PRR had some 155-pound rail, but that's no longer produced. Locally, where I live, R.J. Corman has been putting in 127-pound rail on an as-needed basis on one of its branch lines in Pennsylvania. Much of the trackage is still jointed rail, so there's plenty of room for rail expansion in hot weather. Their biggest concern, and limiting factor, is a 14-degree curve at the base of a 0.8% descending grade. Too much train weight pushing the train down the hill and the outside rail on the curve will lay over on its side. Current operation has four SD40-2s pulling 65 loaded coal cars over the line.
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