Fifty-two people were trapped on an Auckland train last night with no access to toilets, no food and no information from Auckland transport, for over three hours.
A city bound train on the Eastern Line struck something outside the Meadowbank station just before 8:30pm on Thursday and the train was still stuck there at 11:50pm, the passengers unable to disembark. The trapped passengers received very little information from the train staff about what happened and when they might start moving again.
According to Auckland Transport it would have been unsafe for passengers to be taken off the train and to walk the 700m back to the station in the dark, with wet underfoot conditions and unknown situation regarding the object which struck the train.
“The initial crash was quite scary – we hit something that felt very big and there was a metallic grinding sound. It also seems as though the train is on a lean,” a commuter who requested to remain anonymous, told The Spinoff via Facebook.
“We have been stuck here since then. The staff have been walking up and down, getting increasingly agitated (at the passengers and in general). No one has provided us with any information. The police came by and checked the area,” they said.
“People are hungry, tired and need the bathroom. The mood is very frustrated and people are clearly losing patience. The air is stale and it really stinks.”
The situation was described as a “debacle” and its management by Auckland Transport staff contributed to the stress and tension, the passenger said. There were no general announcements at all and the little information provided was given by individual staff members walking up and down the carriage, according to the passenger.
“Those staff members have all said that they’re also waiting for information and become angry with us when we ask for an update. One said he has no idea why he can’t let us out.”
“We do have to pee and are pretty hungry!”
An Auckland Transport spokesperson said the train manager and driver provided passengers with updates as they became available and passengers were told every piece of available information.
Passengers saw a police officer carrying a metal object outside the train.
“Everyone’s tired, some people are sleeping, a few people are still laughing, some are calling their family members and updating them,” said another commuter.
A man from Istanbul said he cannot believe the patience of New Zealanders.
Just before 11:30pm the passengers were told a train was coming to tow them to Meadowbank station. At 11:55pm the train arrived at Meadowbank under the power of a second engine – three and a half hours after the crash, four hours since many passengers boarded at Manukau. Auckland Transport had ordered 15 taxis, and it appears a further wait for a ride home awaits a large number of the 52 passengers.
“We understand this would have been incredibly frustrating for passengers and we apologise for the time it took to get the train moving. Safety was our paramount concern in this situation and this was the best way to handle it in these circumstances. We will learn everything we can from this event and ensure that in the unlikely event that something like this happens again, the comfort of passengers is given more priority,” said an Auckland Transport spokesperson.
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