Transport User Voice May 2024 – Extreme heat

01 May 2024

What do passengers need?

The experiences of many passengers in summer 2022 were unprecedented – with high temperatures not previously experienced in Britain leading to chaos on the railway. 

The impacts of climate change are increasing and the consequences will be experienced by passengers more often. A new report provides a range of recommendations following Transport Focus’s work as part of the national Extreme Heat Task Force. The Task Force was established by Network Rail to seek solutions to avoid similar situations happening in the future. 

Our advice to the rail industry includes a range of interventions that could improve customer communications and the experience of passengers when extreme hot weather impacts the railway. The results highlight the need for better handling of disruption and improving messaging when advice to not travel is issued. It draws on interviews with transport practitioners and experts in the UK and abroad, including those from other travel sectors, seeking to identify good practice.  

Our key recommendations:  

  • ensure there is accurate, clear and useful information to enable passengers to make appropriate decisions about whether or how to undertake their journey. 
  • make clear how and why extreme heat impacts the railway and why journeys are more difficult. 
  • if people decide to travel, support them to complete their trip in the easiest, least stressful way. 
  • the railway should provide easy access to a refund and automate this to the greatest extent possible. 
  • ensure that if services are removed from the timetable eligibility to claim a refund is not compromised. 

Network Rail has published our report alongside other advice on engineering, operations and meteorology. The management of climate change challenges will be a central part of their activity for the next five-year funding period.  

The recommendations from all the reports are now subject to detailed action planning across a range of different Network Rail departments. They have also committed to work with report authors to make sure these plans achieve the intent of their recommendations and will share plans with the Office of Rail and Road to help them monitor progress. 


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