It's so cold in Chicago that they heat railroad switches with a gas flame.
Chicago also has harsh winters, so much so that railroad companies sometimes heat the switches to keep them serviceable. Sometimes gas-powered tracks catch fire, as in the video below under Metra trains:
– WBBM Newsradio (@WBBMNewsradio) January 16, 2024
About the phenomenon Chicago Sun-Times He wrote in more detail: This is mainly necessary so that trains can change tracks smoothly. According to Metra, trains go into “fail-safe” mode when switches freeze or become clogged and can't connect to another track. In this case, the train stops until the congestion is cleared.
So Amtrak, Metra and other rail operators often heat switchgear in several ways, including a natural gas-fired flame. Chicago this week saw its coldest weather since 1996, after three straight days of temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius.
Of course, the phenomenon is not new at all. In Chicago, gearboxes must be heated in many winters, as in 2019:
Sometimes a hot air blower or heating pipe is used. Fire can sometimes cause damage to rail edges, requiring some to be replaced every year, but the method is still safe and effective because operators are “more able to control fires,” Mitra said.
“It is important to note that diesel fuel only burns under pressure and heat, not with an open flame. Therefore, running our locomotives and railcars over relay heaters is completely safe.”
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