1. Transport
July 8, 2022

London heatwave: How will the city’s services be affected?

Weather forecasters believe there is another heatwave coming in mid-July, which will affect most of the UK and London.

By Silvia Pellegrino

In past years, London heatwaves have caused disruption to public transport and the city in general. With another heatwave coming towards mid-July, here is how to prepare for the high temperatures.

The London Heatwave could affect trains and the Underground. (Photo by ablokhin/iStock)

Will there be a heatwave?

There is a rumoured heatwave hitting the UK towards mid-July, with temperatures reportedly set to hit 35°C in central and southern England.

The Met Office said: “Temperatures are expected to be widely above average… with some areas seeing maxima in the high 20s, locally 30 Celsius by the weekend.”

However, they continue, we won’t know the specific temperatures until closer to the time.

Most of the heatwaves in the past years hit London in the month of July.

Reaching temperatures of 37.4°C, London can reach high levels of heat during the summer.

How will the London Tube and Overground be affected?

In London, the Underground network can experience temperatures that feel hotter than the outside heat. Sometimes, temperatures in Tube trains can be 10°C hotter than the temperature perceived outside.

During heatwaves, tube lines with no air-conditioning will be almost unbearable. For example, Central line trains endured temperatures as high as 35.4°C.

Forecasters compare London heatwaves with Hanoi in Vietnam and Casablanca in Morocco, as humidity can hit high peaks too.

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There are some lines to avoid during London’s hottest days of the year. Like in mid-June, temperatures are set to rise in the next weeks. The lines to avoid during heatwaves, in descending order, are:

  1. Bakerloo line
  2. Central line
  3. Northern
  4. Victoria
  5. Piccadilly
  6. Jubilee
  7. Waterloo
  8. District, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan

According to a 2016 report published by TfL, the temperatures registered on Bakerloo, Central, and Northern lines can hit up to 27°C. While the other lines range from 24.1°C on the Victoria line to 18.5°C on District, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan.

During 2019’s heatwave, TfL gave some advice on how to handle the warm temperatures. Mark Evers, director of customer experience for London Underground, said: “We advise customers to ensure they have water with them when they travel in order to stay hydrated, offer a seat to those who may need it, and, if they feel ill, to contact a member of staff at the next station or speak to the bus driver.”

On the other hand, the Overground service is not too affected by the heat. Apart from the lines that come out of Liverpool Street and the Emerson Park Branch, the overground trains are air-cooled. They do not have air-conditioning, but it is still a big difference compared with the outside temperatures.

How will bus services in London be affected?

London’s buses have been described as “pizza ovens crossed with saunas” by commuters.

During June’s heatwave, a bus in Brixton caught fire and the Met Office issued a Level 3 heath-health alert warning for London.

Apart from the risks of dehydration and heat exhaustion, firefighters have warned London citizens that there was an increased risk of fires due to the heatwave.

There is no update on an eventual service disruption; however, it is important to remember a couple of things:

  • wear light clothing
  • carry a fan
  • avoid peak times
  • try to avoid buses altogether

In 2018, bus drivers complained about working in scorching temperatures. Unite shop steward and London bus driver Moe told UNITElive that many of his colleagues suffered nose bleeds, drowsiness and fatigue.

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