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BNSF installs steel-post fences to reduce wind force


BNSF Railway Co. is trying to face less of a headwind in western Montana. The railroad is using wind fences — featuring four-cabled belts and run-through polymer sleeves bolted to 50-foot steel posts — to reduce wind force up to 50 percent compared with older wood and snow-fabric fences, which reduce wind force about 25 percent.

Last year, BNSF began installing the wind fences near Browning, Mont., and at the east entrance to Glacier National Park — areas prone to 60 mph to 100 mph winds.

“With such high wind speeds, empty, double-stacked container cars (which are about 20-feet high) can turn into sails,” said BNSF Division Engineer Rick Harman in a prepared statement. “As a result, the propensity for derailments increases, as do other operational problems.”

BNSF uses anemometers installed along track to measure wind speed, direction and temperatures. The devices send wind alerts to dispatchers so they can hold trains moving empty rail cars when wind speeds are too high.

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More News from 11/3/2005