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11th Jul 2022

‘Stray spark’ ignites fire on timber beams blocking major London railway line

Steve Hopkins

Network Rail believes ‘very dry’ beams may have caught fire through a ‘stray spark’

Train tracks have caught fire after a spark reportedly ignited timber beams as the UK swelters under 30C heat.

According to Metro, the blaze happened on a bridge in Battersea, South London and resulted in services between Victoria and Brixton being suspended.

Network Rail has warned commuters that trains may have to run slower due to high track temperatures.

West Midlands Trains routes between Stratford-upon-Avon, Leamington Spa and Kidderminster – where speeds have been cut to 20mph down from the normal 60mph – have already been impacted.

The speed limits are expected to remain in place until 8pm tonight.

Network Rail is understood to be monitoring a number of locations and may enforce further speed restrictions to reduce the risk of lines buckling under because of the heatwave, Metro reported.

The newspaper further said that the problems in Battersea started when wheel timbers on the bridge caught fire.

Network Rail said the beams were “very dry” due to a lack of rain and “although we don’t know for sure, it’s possible a stray spark set them alight”.

The fire comes at the Met Office on Monday issued an amber weather warning for extreme heat across England and Wales.

The heat warning is in place for Sunday, when temperatures could reach the low 30s in some areas.

It covers almost the entirety of England and much of Wales.

The hottest temperatures will be felt in the south and Midlands, with London currently predicted to experience temperatures in the region of 34C.

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