Heat protocols: Measures taken on road and tracks

An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia)
An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia). (An NS train waiting on the tracks (Photo: TahR78/Wikipedia))

With extremely hot weather expected in the coming days, rail manager ProRail and public works department Rijkswaterstaat are taking extra measures to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible. Temperatures above 35 degrees are expected, which can cause problems on both the road and the tracks. A number of events are also taking measures, NOS and NU.nl report.

ProRail declared "code red" at all its traffic control posts. The heat increases the risks of malfunctions, and extra alertness is required. Additional traffic controllers will be deployed during the hot period, and they will be allowed no visitors in the workplace so that they can concentrate only on their job. 

High heat causes the steel of the railways to expand. "In the past you had 'kedeng kedent', which Guus Meeuwis still sang about", Andy Wiemer of ProRail said to NPO Radio 1. "That sound was because the rails were not close together so that the track could expand in the heat. Nowadays the tracks are really close to each other. There is of course still a certain margin to expand, but at some point it runs out." And then the tracks can bend or break, which means that trains can no longer run over them. ProRail will keep a close eye on the tracks, to catch and repair breaks quickly. 

When trains are stationary, the air conditioning can fail "and then it gets very hot in such a cabin, so we have to be quick", Wiemer said. From Tuesday, ProRail's Incident Management will therefore be allowed to drive with blue flashing lights and sirens in order to reach stationary trains as quickly as possible. ProRail is also placing "water wagons" at strategic places in the country, so they can quickly take water to travelers stranded in a train. Travelers are advised to also take their own drinking water with them when traveling. 

NS can't yet say whether the timetable will have to be adjusted due to the heat. "It is difficult to estimate where eventual problems will occur", a spokesperson said to NU.nl. The rail company will, however, not use old double-deckers, which do not have good air conditioning, in the coming days. "They are being replaced by train sets that do have air conditioning." NS also installed water points at 90 train stations, where travelers can top up their water bottles before or after a trip. 

Rijkswaterstaat is implementing its heat protocol as of 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. That means that motorists who have car trouble along the highway will be towed away as quickly as possible. They will be taken to a safe location with facilities, like a gas station or parking lot. 

The public works department advises motorists to take enough drinking water with them on the road, to stay hydrated. An umbrella is also useful - it can be used as a parasol if you have to wait outside the car for help after a breakdown. Road users are also warned to be extra alert to roadside fires. Do not throw cigarette butts or waste out of the car window. "Not only because it is forbidden, but certainly also because they can cause a fire quickly in the hot weather", Rijkswaterstaat said. 

A number of events are also taking measures. Ajax canceled its open day on Thursday. The Amsterdam football team is looking for another date to reschedule it. Running event Brinkloop in Diever, which happens every Tuesday in July and August, is not happening this week. The summer market in Horst, Limburg has been canceled. And bingo for seniors at the Tilburg fair on Thursday is also no longer happening. 

The Twentse Rolstoel4Daagse in Delden, a four day marathon event for wheelchair users, adjusted its program due to the heat. The distances of 50 and 70 kilometers have been deleted, participants can now only choose between 10 and 22 kilometers. The marathon will also start earlier at 9:00 a.m., so that participants are done by 1:00 p.m. when it gets really hot. 

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