Witness a train plow through built up snow on the train tracks. The power of a train as a physical object and make snow blowing seem like child’s play. So how does a train remove snow from the tracks? Unlike in your driveway, a train does not use a snow blower to remove snow from the tracks. Many trains use a plow to remove snow from the tracks. In fact, they work much better for trains then would a snow blower. While you and I might be stuck with a snow shovel or a snow blower, trains just use their might to push snow off of the tracks. There is, however, an odd type of snow plows for trains that use a huge fan literally as a snow blower. The train is likely using a small plow. Notice that this is not just a single engine but two engines working together to plow through several feet of snow.
What is the Danger of Trains and Snow?
It may seem as though trains are impervious to snow. The reality is quite a bit different. While, in most cases, a train would just plow through snow, but remember that snow is not just powdery fluff. Cold weather also brings ice. On a slight grade with icy tracks, a train would likely be stalled. Also, depending on how the ice formed it could present a situation where once the train hit the ice, the train itself would be lifted off of the tracks where it would derail. A derailed train is a dangerous thing in many ways. Most tracks are shared by not just one railroad, but many railroads. A derailed train in high snow is just another accident waiting to happen.
You’ll notice how high the snow flies when it is being removed by a train. Certain images there appeared as though waves were crashing over the bow of a ship. What that shows us that visibility is compromised. If you add into that snow that is falling, then visibility becomes questionable at best. The problem is that a train does not just stop. It might take a mile or more for a train to come to a complete stop, and that would not be enough time for two trains to avoid each other, and a crash would occur. So trains in snow can be dangerous.
Trains, Snow, and Trouble
Train derailment is only one of the many troubles that trains face when traveling through snow.
- Danger of being stranded. A snowy landscape is not an easy thing to cross if a train and passengers need to be rescued. Plus trains only have so much fuel before systems start to fail, and that means that a stranded train is a race against the clock.
- Electricity and Cold do not Mix. Most railroad switches are operated electronically, as are signals and other systems to direct train traffic. That means for all of the power of a train, if an electric stitch is frozen and will not flip, then the train is not going to head where it needs to head and may derail. This is why you see two engines back to back and the train is not moving overly fast. If there is trouble, it can easily go back in the direction from which it came.
For a good look at how a snow blower for a train actually works, this walks you through the process. In so doing, you get to see how a train behaves in some rather amazing winter conditions. What does a train fear when clearing the snow off of the tracks in the mountain? Avalanche is one natural phenomenon that is more powerful than a train. The danger is that the train will be pushed off the mountain. How many of you readers would love to ride on a train that was blowing snow from the track?
Check Out This Train’s Super Cool Rotary Snow Plow