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Metra, UP, BNSF install devices to detect severe weather conditions


Metra and its contract carriers BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad are preparing for spring and summer storms now by installing anemometers along Metra's rail system that are designed to help minimize train delays.

The devices measure wind speed and direction. Metra provided the funding for the installation of eight of them along the three UP lines and three along the BNSF line. The devices, which cost about $25,000 each, will provide real-time data about winds, providing UP and BNSF dispatchers more accurate information about weather conditions, Metra officials said in a press release.

On Metra UP lines, three anemometers were installed on the West Line, three on the Northwest Line and two on the North Line. The anemometers are now tied into UP's dispatching center and will supplement its forecasts with actual conditions to determine whether trains should be halted and for how long. The additional information should mean any halts in service will affect a smaller area (and fewer trains) for a shorter period, Metra officials said.

"This is a tool that we hope will provide real results for our riders by minimizing delays when storms strike the Chicago region, yet preserve the standards of safety that we and our partner railroads take very seriously," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno.

The anemometer project will serve as a tool that will provide more flexibility when the railroads make operating decisions during severe weather, Metra officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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