Friday, February 01, 2019

Trains #PolarVortex

I had no idea railroads have their own answers to any potential hazards of extreme winter weather on the rails. I never knew that here in Chicago Metra our commuter rail system could literally set the rails on fire at certain points.

The vid below is courtesy of the BBC. [VIDEO]
Just as easily as it's best to de-ice an aircraft so that it could perform properly in cold winter weather rails especially needs to be "de-iced" to be able to perform properly in the winter time.
If you see fire along Metra tracks during the winter, don't panic. The Chicago area’s commuter rail service is fighting the cold with fire to keep switches working, and help with track repairs.

Winter weather can cause snow and ice to clog switches, which control which rail trains run on. Clogged switches can bring trains to a halt until the blockage is cleared.

To combat the problem, Metra uses a gas-fed system that runs adjacent to the rail, generating heat in areas where switches are supposed to make contact. This system is used in normal winter weather, not just extreme cold , explained spokesman Michael Gillis. The system is turned on when the temperature is between 40 and 32 and stays on when it’s below 32.

 Extreme cold weather can cause steel to contract, causing breaks, said Metra spokeswoman Meg Thomas-Reile. While Metra uses continuously welded rail on most of the system, there are some locations near switches and some crossings where the rail is bolted together. Those areas are the most vulnerable to separating in frigid temperatures, although breaks can happen anywhere along the line.
Here's a graphic with regards to how Metra fights ice on their rails from Chicago Tribune Graphics
I'm glad that for now we're out of the woods as far as the polar vortex and just remember next month will represent the start of spring. Warmer weather will be around the corner before we know it!

BTW, for an encore here's a video courtesy of Virtual Railfan showing something like what you see from the BBC. This time however in Deshler, Ohio [VIDEO]

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