Like cold fronts in winter, exceptionally high summer temperatures can affect railway equipment and infrastructure, so Belgium’s railway authorities are taking no chances: the current heat wave has prompted both Infrabel and the SNCB to take special measures.
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) also takes steps to deal with the excessive heat.
“Our technicians keep an eye on the equipment, particularly the air conditioning and electronic components, which are more heat-sensitive,” spokesman Dimitri Temmerman said. “And as always, there are teams on the bridge that can intervene in the event of an incident.”
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.