The day when trains were not told to reduce speed during extreme heat, and the worst happened

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Could a heat-related derailment been avoided if BART would have taken the necessary precaution?
BART

Was BART having a brain cramp? Did it just zone out?

Nobody really knows for sure, but how the agency handled an intense heat situation in June was not how it has handled similar incidents in the past.

A train did end up derailing during rush hour. Fortunately, there were only about 50 passengers on board and only a few minor injuries were reported. But the track was 140 degrees … rail is designed to withstand temperatures not much over 110 degrees. Still, BART did not tell operators to reduce speed on that day, even though after the incident the agency admitted the rail could misalign when the temperature gets more than 20 degrees above the neutral temperature of the rail.

BART has had trains reduce speed during extreme heat days, but after the derailment the agency said there is no formal policy on the matter. On July 8 as a follow-up to the June accident, BART said, “[The agency] will reduce the threshold temperature to apply speed restrictions for trains in those areas when temperatures are forecast to exceed 100 degrees.”

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