RAIL passengers were left stuck on trains described as being like “ovens” after soaring temperatures on the hottest day of the year led to widespread disruption of train services.
Free bottles of water were handed out to passengers at Waverley station as Edinburgh saw the mercury rise to 28C – hotter than Crete and Tenerife, and the same temperature as Ibiza.
The temperature on train rails in some parts of the country reached 43C, causing signalling problems and leaving trains coming in and out of Waverley subject to cancellation and delay from 2pm onwards, with all Edinburgh to Bathgate trains cancelled in a bid to clear the backlog.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We have experienced some heat-related problems, primarily west of Edinburgh and on the Glasgow to Ayr line. Our rapid response teams have been out on the network all day to deal with any issues and we have kept the network running as well as possible.
“In a couple of places precautionary speed restrictions have been put in place. Although we have resolved the points issue at Waverley there will be residual delays in the area for which we apologise. Passengers waiting at Waverley have been issued with free bottles of water to keep them cool.”
However, passengers already on trains while the delays were occurring also complained of feeling the heat.
Ian Burgess tweeted: “If you are travelling from Edinburgh on the train stock up with water it is like standing in a oven. #Scotrail.”
Neil Wells added: “Glad they have kept the heating on in the train! Cheers #scotrail you never know if the weather may turn!”
A spokeswoman for ScotRail apologised for the inconvenience and said that “most” trains were fitted with air conditioning to provide comfort for passengers during the hot weather.
Outdoor sports were popular with those not stuck in commuter hell but still looking to break a sweat. With excitement building over The Open golf to be held at Muirfield next week, Edinburgh Leisure revealed that over the past ten days 6773 rounds of golf had been played at its facilities, up from 3158 over the same period in 2012.
And the lead up to Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon, plus perfect tennis weather, saw the number of games played at the Meadows tennis courts almost double on last year, after already seeing an increase of 58 per cent over June.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Leisure said: “We believe this increase is due to a combination of the Wimbledon/Murray excitement and the weather.”
Yesterday’s temperature was the highest recorded in the Capital since 2009, when the Botanic Garden recorded a 29.9C reading.
A spokeswoman for the Botanics said the gardens had been “mobbed” over recent days, with 2472 visitors on Monday, more than double for the same day in 2012.
David Knott, curator of the Living Collection, said: “The garden has been busy with visitors enjoying the plants and peaceful surroundings and this has been an above average flowering year. In previous months the weather has been dry and cool, but in the last week, higher temperatures with and without drying wind have meant that we have had to start irrigating many areas of the garden where and when plants are showing signs of lack-of-moisture stress.”
For those just wanting to lie back and enjoy the sunshine, Portobello beach was as popular a spot as ever.
Lisa Philp, 37, of Wisp Green, was one of hundreds enjoying the sunshine with an ice cream on the promenade. Lisa, who was with baby son Ollie, seven months, and daughter Rebecca, 19, said: “We’ve been down on the beach and the kids have been in the playpark, too. It’s just lovely, I don’t remember the last time we had weather like this.”
Large queues formed at ice cream vendors and cafes along the promenade, with some waiting ten to 15 minutes to be served.
A spokesman for The Beach House Cafe said: “We’re easily getting double the normal amount of people through the doors. Ice creams are flying out of the freezer.” And it’s not just the human population that needed some help staying cool.
Lynn McKenchnie, head zookeeper at Five Sisters Zoo, West Calder, said: “Fruit ice lollies have been given to the lemurs, racoons and monkeys as a cold treat, the bears have recently welcomed a big bath full of cool water into their enclosure which they can play around in to cool off and they also have a pond which provides a cool off point. The otters have been given some frozen mussels and all the animals have been provided with extra water and shade.”
Animals at Edinburgh Zoo were also being treated to frozen lollies and paddling pools, while the penguins and rhinos were squirted with hoses to keep them cool.
The good weather is expected to last through the rest of the week, with temperatures today predicted to be slightly cooler.
Fire crews in BBQ warning
THE Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is advising people to be particularly careful with barbecues during the hot weather.
Barbecues should always be supervised by an adult, with children and pets kept away, and carefully extinguished when done. Take extra care near water and if you see someone in difficulties, call 999 rather than attempting a rescue.
Fan-tastic effort at ERI
SWELTERING readers contacted the News to show the mercury highs in their neighbourhoods.
Lorraine Young’s digital thermometer was showing readings of 29.3C in Kingsknowe at 5pm, while Stacie Coleman said Marchmont was melting at 28C.
Elisa McMahon, was “cooking” at Drylaw as her car’s thermometer read 34C while Clare Smith in Dalkeith’s showed 30C. Christie Edmond said it was 27C in Prestonpans.
Roast and be thankful
FANS have been placed in hospital wards to help keep patients and staff cool, with plenty of ice water on tap keeping patients hydrated.
The A&E department at the ERI was kept busy over the weekend with numerous cases of bad sunburn and dehydration as a result of people drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and not enough water. They are advising people to use sunscreen and drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.