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.