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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Metra gears up for winter weather


Metra has begun winter weather preparations, such as installing covers and supercharged heaters to several of the most critical switches in its system.

This year, the Chicago commuter railroad has added 21 switch heaters to three more yards and has installed covers along the switches at 35 mainline locations on the Rock Island, Milwaukee and Metra Electric lines, Metra officials said in a press release.

The work follows BNSF Railway Co.'s installation of switch covers along the BNSF Line last winter.

A Metra train passes through a crossing in snowy weather.
Photo: Metra
Metra also plans to assign employees to key switching locations during winter storms in the event that any switches need to be cleared manually.

"The investments made in these new switch covers and heaters will enable us to free up and redeploy staff needed to manually clear switches on other parts of our system and, ultimately, help us keep our trains running on time," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno.

In addition to its work on switches, Metra has continued a program that began last winter to address issues with doors on its older cars.

Gaps in the door pockets created during train operations can fill with fine snow, and extreme temperatures can turn this snow into ice that jams the doors and leads to delays, Metra officials said.

So far, Metra has replaced the weather stripping on 191 cars, replaced doors on 35 cars and completed further heavy maintenance work on the door tracks and door pockets on 13 cars.

All other cars in the fleet also have been through the railroad's annual winterization efforts.

Furthermore, Metra plans to use three cold-air jet blowers purchased last year to clear snow and ice from rail yards.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/25/2015