CHICAGO — Metra and the CTA have battled below-zero temperatures and snow to keep trains moving this week.
Despite record-breaking cold and inches of snow (including more coming Thursday night), trains for both agencies kept chugging along. Metra released a video showing some of the cool things it does to keep trains running in severe winter weather.
A few things we learned:
- Crew members use golf clubs to hit wheels on the trains — the timbre of the resulting ring can show if the brakes are working correctly, according to the video.
- Workers use snowblowers and ice picks to clear switches and switch heaters to ensure they will work.
- Controlled flames along train tracks are used to clear switches of snow and ice.
- Metra has crews on call 24/7 to ensure it can fix problems with switches at all times. If the switches aren’t aligned, trains can’t move past them and there will be delays.
- Workers have to go through each train car for detailing and cleaning. They clear out trash, scrape snow off doors and out of vestibules and clean seats (so get your salt-stained boots off the seats, ya jabronis).
Of course, Metra’s not the only agency that’s had to deal with this week’s foul weather. The CTA also does some pretty interesting stuff when snow hits and temperatures fall:
- The CTA equips all “L” cars with sleet scrapers that can clear off the third rail, according to a spokesman. Those scrapers aren’t removed until the spring hits, according to the agency. Snowplow blades are also put onto the front of “L” cars.
- “Heat tape” is put on the rails of tracks that go on an incline, helping heat the rails.
- Some rail cars have devices that can spread de-icer onto the third rail.
- These are four “snow fighter” locomotives that are diesel-powered. They can reach every part of the train system without having to use the electric third rail.