According to the
American Association of Railroads,
U.S. railroads prepare for winter weather well in
advance to prevent weather-related service disruptions.
Here are some examples of what they do to protect rail
Invest in new equipment
like jet blowers, slush scrapers and snow plow
blades to keep tracks clear of snow, portable
backup generators to power equipment, and
blizzard buses to transport additional staff
where help is needed. Switch heaters are also
used to keep switches clear of snow and ice and
keep trains running in freezing temperatures.
Staff winter weather command centers
in Northern regions to make ground-level decisions
on such things as train crew deployment,
maintenance coordination and contractor management
— all of which keep trains moving in inclement
weather. Union Pacific provides service units
additional employee training on winter weather to
ensure safe working conditions while maintaining
the highest level of service possible.
Add more locomotives to the network
during extremely cold months. Cold weather impacts
braking systems, which are connected through each
rail car. As temperatures drop, so does braking
effectiveness, limiting the number of cars that
can be placed on a train. Adding locomotives in
the middle of trains allows railroads to maintain
train lengths while also ensuring brakes operate at
Collaborate with other railroads
to determine how to best avoid congestion should
severe weather cause backups in high-traffic areas.
This includes use of alternative routes or gateways
when sections of track are inaccessible.