Auckland Transport (AT) has expressed strong disappointment with KiwiRail following the cancellation of several train services across Auckland due to speed restrictions implemented because of “hot tracks,” impacting rush hour commuters.
AT’s director of public transport, Stacey van der Putten, criticised the rail network’s vulnerability, attributing the need for such speed restrictions to longstanding faults within the system. The disruptions, affecting services from 1pm to 8pm across the Southern, Eastern, and Western Lines, have led to frustrations among commuters, with many voicing their displeasure on social media over the repeated inconveniences and lack of reliability in the rail service.
KiwiRail explained that the steel rails could move when trains travel over them at high speeds in hot conditions, necessitating slower train speeds or cancellations to prevent service backlogs.
The issue, attributed to the physical properties of the rail materials, created challenges in maintaining service schedules during extreme temperatures, said KiwiRail.
The situation has sparked concern among local officials and the public, with Auckland City Councillor Richard Hills questioning KiwiRail’s performance and reliability, especially considering the recent investments and upgrades in the rail system. The heat-induced cancellations come at a time when public transport usage in Auckland is nearing its annual peak.
KiwiRail’s general manager for metros, Jon Knight, defended the speed restrictions as a safety measure critical for continuing safe train operations under high temperatures, which can cause the steel rails to expand and potentially misalign.
Planning to take a train to Britomart, Papakura, Manukau, or Swanson 1pm to 8pm? Some train services on Eastern, Western, and Southern lines have been cancelled due to weather (heat) conditions. Before you travel, make sure to plan trip via https://t.co/AzvVlQTykd. pic.twitter.com/0J67rvwrl4
— Auckland Transport Travel Alerts (@AT_TravelAlerts) February 12, 2024