Not The Best Publicity


A fire involving an Auckland train  is not a great advertisement for those tempted to use public transport.

It’s one of commuters’ worst common fears especially when passing through the Britomart tunnel.

This afternoon’s incident, which happened outside the tunnel near Vector, and saw smoke emerging from the locomotive,  is being blamed on the braking system and the couple of dozen passengers on the Britomart-bound train were escorted safely without any problem. The fire was quickly put out.

But whatever the cause and circumstances it reminds us that some of our trains, like Wellington’s  are just holding together until the new electric trains appear.

With the growing  popularity of the services, the trains are overworking to cope.

And today’s problem caused some disruption to services as part of the standard emergency procedures and that’s not helpful either.

Meanwhile Wellington services are struggling for a second day with their lack of drivers.





  1. Matt says:

    And cars never catch fire, of course.
    Posts like this are not terribly helpful, IMO, because they emphasise a risk that is negligible. This is the first train fire in Auckland that I can recall. Better to highlight the fact of how many millions of people are transported every year without death or injury to passengers.

    PS: Buses catch fire too, and fire occur on trains overseas. Even on trains greatly newer than ours. You have no idea what caused the fire, so puting it down to the age of the rolling stock is the kind of worthless speculation for which you would rightly beat Granny Herald.

  2. Jon C says:

    @Matt You are being far too sensitive. There was disruption as a result of the fire and numerous inquiries to AKT as to why so I decided I could not ignore it.
    We can not just mention the good news. It was not reported in any sensational fashion here unlike certain news sites that had screaming headlines about Auckland train catches fire Breaking news. I did not put the cause down to the rolling stock -I made it clear I do not know the circumstances - but mentioned it as a reason why commuters should not be surprised when such things happen and understand the older stock is vulnerable to breakdowns and incidents.

  3. Chris R says:

    This is bound to happen when you are using an old freight loco on passenger work.

  4. DanC says:

    Wonder what the death / injury stats are for the driving to work vs train to work.

  5. George D says:

    It’s newsworthy, certainly! Glad everyone’s okay. And yes, the trains are working incredibly hard at the moment, they’re pushing them through a lot of acceleration and breaking. Part of me is happy - they’re making an effort to run them on time - but I might have to reconsider if it means we have to deal with burning trains too!

  6. geoff_184 says:

    “just holding together until the new electric trains appear”

    It’s actually a fairly common occurance on new and old locos alike, and isn’t really a sign of age.

  7. Cal says:

    One passenger train reduces road accident costs equivalent to 130 hospital visits in one year.

  8. George D says:

    “One passenger train reduces road accident costs equivalent to 130 hospital visits in one year.”

    As far as I know, these cost and social-harm savings are generally ignored in transport planning and funding allocation. Yet they are huge, and directly result from transport choices.

    Go trains!

  9. joust says:

    not terribly helpful to who?

    I fail to understand this desire to hush up a story that I know I’d be interested in if I was a passenger on the affected train.

    Did a fire happen? yes
    Are the trains old? yes

    Its good passengers actually find these things out rather than disruption being blamed on “operational issues”

  10. Andrew says:

    This is certainly not the first train fire in Auckland. Here’s one from November 2009 as an example. There have been others before that.

    It’s usually excess oil and buildup that burns, as it seems again happened yesterday.

    The ADL/ADC sets’ generator units on the ADC cars are a regular problem with a flawed design causing oil hoses to occasionally burst, spraying oil onto hot surfaces then burning.

    However, all the fires have been contained within machinery areas and have never entered passenger areas so far as I know, at least since the DMUs arrived in the early 1990s - they’re all still in service bar one ADK.

  11. AKT says:

    Of course Matt we could adopt the Chinese philosophy they have had in the last few weeks of banning media from ever reporting any incident involving a train so that the public suspect they never go wrong.

  12. rtc says:

    I think Matt is more making the point that the fire was not really do do with old trains.


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