Heatwave prompts Belgium’s railways to take special measures

epa05091194 An empty platform of the Thalys of Belgian railway SNCB at Brussels' south train station on the second day of a 48-hour rail strike in Belgium, 07 January 2016. Trade unions are protesting against government structural reforms of the public railway that could cost some 6,000 jobs in the future. The strike is also expected to affect international rail services to and from Belgium operating on the Thalys network between Paris and the German city of Cologne, as well as Eurostar railway connections to France and Britain. EPA/LAURENT DUBRULE

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As Europe once more is in the grip of another heatwave, Belgium’s railway authorities are taking no chances: the current heatwave has prompted both Infrabel and the SNCB to take special measures.

Belgium has issued a code red weather warning for the whole country because of the forecasted heatwave.

At Infrabel, the measures are both proactive and reactive, the utility’s spokesman, Thomas Baeken, explained. Each summer, Infrabel, which manages Belgium’s railway network, carries out regular checks on lines and catenaries.

This is because heat can cause the metal of the lines to dilate and stretch the catenaries, making them hang more easily. In addition to these preventive actions, teams have to be mobilised at any moment in the event of a problem.

During outdoor interventions, staff receive water and sun cream in abundance. “We also try to factor in the heat when planning works and maintenance,” Infrabel said.

The Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges (SNCB) is also taking similar steps to deal with the excessive heat.

Six additional trains will be deployed each day through Friday between Ostend and Blankenberge, in addition to the extra trains already programmed for the summer season, which increase the possibilities for travelling to the Coast and other tourist destinations.

Forecasters predict a record-breaking run across Europe this week, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

Much of France has been issued with an orange alert – the second highest level of warning.

Meteo France said Paris temperatures might hit new highs on Thursday. The record, set in 1947, stands at 40.4C.

Spain declared a red alert in its Zaragoza region, which was hit by devastating wildfires last month. The European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service says the risk of wildfires is high in Spain and in Portugal.’

In the Netherlands, the government activated its “national heat plan” while in the UK, temperatures are predicted to exceed 35C, and could be the highest ever recorded.



Via The Brussels Times

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