The 250km traffic jam

The Brazilian city of Sao Paulo experienced a 250km traffic jam. Source: Reuters

This traffic jam in Brazil is illustrative of the congestion caused by a shut down in rail. For Melbourne it is a salutary and timely warning of what our future may be without the Doncaster Rail.

The Age: The 250km traffic jam

Railway strike paralyses Brazil’s biggest city. If you think your drive to work is bad, consider this.

A train strike in Sao Paulo forced 20 million commuters into cars on Wednesday, creating a traffic jam that authorities estimate covered 250km of roads and highways at its peak.  This smashed the previous morning rush-hour record of 190km – but was not as high as Brazil’s all-time traffic record of 295km during an evening peak in June 2009, according to Reuters.

Angry drivers promised revenge, the tyres on stranded buses were punctured and protesters were sprayed with tear gas as Brazil’s biggest city entangled itself, the news agency reported.  Police motorcycles had to clear the way for ambulances through the chaos.

The incident has renewed concerns over Brazil’s ability to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

“Whoever says Brazil is a great (economic) power should come and see this,” Wilson Pereira, a dishwasher, told Reuters as he watched live images of traffic jams on TV.

Brazil’s traffic jam might be bad, but it’s not the worst in the world. In August 2010 a massive traffic jam in China lasted nine days.

Cars and trucks bound for Beijing got caught in a queue for about 100km — because of road works to repair damage caused by the increase in traffic.

A number of breakdowns at critical points, as cars overheated, brought the busy arterial to a grinding, steaming halt.

At the time, drivers complained locals over-charged them for food and water while they were stranded in the gridlock.

The stalled traffic stretched between Jining in Inner Mongolia and Huai’an in Hebei province, north-west of Beijing, the Global Times reported.

Australia’s worst ever gridlock lasted 12 hours. In April 2010 thousands of motorists were left stranded overnight as rescue crews struggled to clear an overturned truck on the F3 freeway north of Sydney.