KWINANA commuters perplexed about why trains aren’t stopping at the station can wonder no more – the answer is portuguese millipedes.
The huge local infestation of creepy crawlies is preventing trains from braking in time.
Bob Ball, who starts work at 6am on weekdays, catches the 5.20am train from Wellard station.
Last week, three trains shot past Mr Ball and his fellow commuters over the course of a week, leaving them with a 40-minute wait for the next service.
Last Thursday, the 5.20am train and the 6am train both failed to stop.
Commuters have been given free train travel for the day each time this has happened.
Public Transport Authority (PTA) spokesman David Hynes said it was more difficult to stop a train when the track was slippery, just as it was more difficult to stop a car on a slippery road.
“This is more noticeable at Wellard, when the Perth-bound train comes down a hill towards the station,” he said.
“Because our railcar drivers are well-trained and drive in accordance with the conditions, this has not been a problem until the past couple of weeks, when two unusual environmental factors have come into play. We have had a lot of early-morning condensation on the tracks, and the area has been infested by millipedes.”
If there are a lot of millipedes on the rails, the track becomes slippery when crushed by the wheels of a passing train and the driver may be unaware of this until he tries to stop the train.
The problem has also been noticed at Rockingham and Kwinana stations, and on the freight network.
The PTA began spraying insecticide in around the tracks on September 24.
“We expect the spraying to be effective for at least a couple of weeks but will monitor the situation closely,” he said.