Auckland [New Zealand], February 13 (ANI): Commuters in New Zealand’s Auckland city were faced with disruptions and travel delays as authorities cancelled multiple trains in the city due to soaring summer heat, which led to “hot tracks,” local media reported.
Kiwi Rail, which owns the tracks on Auckland’s Rail Network imposed speed restrictions in place as temperature of the tracks reached 48 degrees Celsius in some places leading to the cancellation of many train services, including those during peak hours, on Monday.
A spokesman from KiwiRail, was cited by the New Zealand Herald as saying that heat causes the steel in the rail lines to move if the trains pass over them too quickly. “This means trains must go much more slowly in hot conditions. Trains are often cancelled to prevent a major backlog,” he said.
KiwiRail general manager for metros Jon Knight was cited by the news daily as saying that temporary speed restrictions are put in place once the steel rails reached 40C and lifted once the track dropped below this temperature.
While the air temperature in in Auckland was around 25 degree Celsius, the tracks were a lot hotter.
“Steel gets a lot hotter than the air and it retains heat. Once the temperature of the track drops, speed restrictions can be dropped, but sometimes with warm nights that might not happen until the next day.” The tracks had become particularly hot in South Auckland on Monday afternoon with an area near Otahuhu measuring 48C.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaking to Newstalk ZB, a talk-radio network operated by NZME Radio said that public transport issues are “clearly pretty sub-optimal.”
Luxon said that his transport minister is meeting with agencies to understand the situation. “The excuses we have heard like hot tracks and a lot of miscommunication are not very acceptable at all,” the New Zealand PM said in the radio interview.
According to Auckland Transport (AT) potentially one in three train services will be cancelled from 3pm on Tuesday and the commuter chaos could run through summer and into March.
Meanwhile, the city mayor had asked for an explanation from rail authorities. Aucklanders have reached the end of their patience with train cancellations due to weather, signal failures, crew issues or other excuses, Mayor Wayne Brown was quoted in the New Zealand Herald.
The mayor has written to AT chief executive Dean Kimpton, KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy and One Rail chief executive Martin Kearney, whose company runs the city’s trains to “explain what is being done to fix the disruptions and quickly restore public confidence.”
The mayor has called a meeting with the rail executives and has also invited Transport Minister Simeon Brown to attend, the Herald reported.