Weather in the Capital reached an almost-record breaking high today with mercury rising to a scorching 27C.
But the soaring temperatures disrupted travel plans for thousands of passengers as ScotRail imposed speed restrictions after tracks started to buckle in the searing heat.
Despite Network Rail Scotland deploying teams of engineers on Wednesday night to paint rail lines white in an effort to reduce track temperatures by up to 10C, rail travel was left in chaos across the country on Thursday.
Two morning Scotrail services between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the 11.26am and the 11.56am, were delayed on the track between Uddingston and Cambuslang before normal service was resumed. Critical track temperatures, which reached 51C in places such as Livingston, derailed passengers on the Bathgate to Waverley line which saw services rerouted until around 10pm while services on other lines halved in frequency, such as the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line, Edinburgh-Dunblane and Glasgow-Lanark.
In Glasgow, which basked in record heat of 31.9C, rail bosses reduced services to and from their Central station higher level platforms to Ayrshire, Lanark and Edinburgh from the afternoon. Passengers affected were able to use their rail tickets with several bus operators to continue their journeys. Staff handed out water to sweltering commuters stranded in the station.
This followed Wednesday’s travel disruptions that saw all trains from Glasgow Central high level cancelled due to “multiple points failures” near the station.
Scotland’s steel rails are pre-stressed to help them resist high temperatures but their pressure point is set to 27C. When air temperatures reach 30C, rails can heat to up to 20C higher, exceeding the maximum temperature the rails are designed to cope with, which can cause them to expand and to buckle. When heat expansion forces are high, trains have to reduce their speed to reduce additional forces being applied on the track. Due to this week’s extreme weather Network Rail Scotland have ramped up their weather monitoring, introduced speed restrictions and painted areas of tracks white.
While residents and visitors flocked to the Meadows, Portobello beach and Princes Street Gardens to soak up the rays and make the most of the intense vitamin D injection, forecasters predicted that inland areas in the west of Scotland would be welcoming the hottest weather with temperatures pushing up to 31C.
A Met Office spokeswoman said: “The warmest areas are going to be away from the north and the east coast because that is where the wind is coming from. Areas away from that further inland will be the warmest.”
“Temperatures could certainly rise to 30C in parts of western Scotland and 31C isn’t out of the question.”
Snow and winter sports holiday destination Aviemore enjoyed sizzling temperatures that peaked at 31.3C yesterday, making it the hottest day recorded since June 1995, when the mercury reached 31.5C in Renfrewshire.
Scotland was tipped to beat previous temperature records this week as maximum temperatures around the country reached as high as double the national average of 15C for June. Meteorologists even predicted that the current weather could break the June record of 32.9C, measured in the Borders.
The Met Office’s heat-health watch alert remains at level two, meaning social and healthcare services are at the ready to reduce harm from a potential heatwave.
The NHS advised parents to keep children and babies cool during the heatwave, ensuring they drink enough fluids and are kept out of direct sunlight or are liberally lathered in sunscreen if playing in the warmer weather. Meanwhile, experts warned that placing cloths and blankets over prams presented a massive health risk with temperatures inside tested strollers reaching a dangerous 37C.
Animal charities, Dogs Trust and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) made pleas to pet owners not to leave dogs in cars, reminding them that even 20 minutes could be fatal to their furry friends. The SSPCA revealed that reports of dogs in cars doubled yesterday to 22 across the country. Other tips circulating included keeping pets hydrated and cool and to avoid walking dogs during the hottest part of the day.
Age UK asked people to remember that very high temperatures and humidity can pose a risk to the elderly and infirm. Concerns over heatstroke, which can be deadly, were particularly high. Top tips included always carrying water, placing a damp cloth on the back of the neck, staying indoors or in the shade and to wear loose clothing.
Police Scotland echoed calls not to leave pets in hot cars. They said: “Please DO NOT leave your pets in the car, even if only popping to the shops - cars heat up very quickly. The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with open windows, can rapidly reach a level high enough to seriously harm or kill your pet.”
As summer holiday season takes off, Edinburgh Airport expects to see 445,000 travelling through their gates between June 28 and July 6. But holidaymakers heading to Spain, Greece, Turkey and America might have been better off planning a Scottish-based staycation as Edinburgh’s weather rivalled Athens, Antalya and New York this week.
The summer heatwave is set to last until at least the weekend when temperature gauges are expected to settle at around 18C. Thermometers will dip today to a refreshing 15C as a brisk breeze blows in from the north east but will climb back up in time for Saturday and Sunday. Next week forecasters expect the dry, warm weather to continue with light winds and almost no rain.