Here’s how soaring temperatures could affect your next train ride

ORLANDO, Fla. — The heat is on in Central Florida.

This year, we’ve already seen 27 days of temperatures hitting 95 degrees or higher.


But have you ever thought about how the hot weather might impact different methods of transportation?

READ: Where will Brightline have train stations?

Channel 9′s Alexa Lorenzo found out that SunRail officials keep a close eye on the temperature every day to determine if they need to lower train speeds.

When temperatures soar, it could mean a longer ride for commuters.

On one recent day, SunRail issued a heat warning — an alert that goes out when temperatures reach 98 degrees. 

It means trains must reduce their speed by 20 mph.

Here’s why the measure is necessary.

While rail is heated before being installed to reduce the potential for the metal to expand, some days are simply just too hot.

READ: Child among several hurt after car crashes into crowd along Daytona Beach

“Most objects expand when they are heated,” University of Central Florida Physics Department’s Dr. Richard Jerousek explained.

In terms of the train tracks, he said, “They have nowhere to expand into and they have to curve themselves a little bit to make up for that. So the tracks get buckled a bit.”

Small shifts in the rail typically sort themselves out.

But photos of extreme buckling on tracks in other parts of the country show it could be dangerous for a train.

“If we have too tight of a bend ... then the wheels on the tracks don’t have enough time to negotiate it and it rolls off the tracks,” Jerousek said.

So SunRail slows things down to help reduce the heat stress that the rails may be under.

READ: Here’s where Brightline will add a second track in Brevard

While your train travel might take a little longer on really hot days, SunRail said even during a heat advisory, trains typically move at a minimum of 40 mph.

And in areas like downtown Orlando, where maximum speeds are already limited to 30 mph, no reduction in speed is necessary during a heat advisory.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.