Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Weather II

Here is a quick follow-up to my post yesterday on winter weather and transit. I found a post on a blog call “Light rail and I: a love story 28 years in the making”. It is written by a light rail operator in Portland, OR. Anyway, she had some interesting insights on winter weather on the MAX (light rail system). Apparent even with 1.2 feet of snow, the system was running.
Snow and ice make it necessary to run the trains all night to prevent the overhead wire from freezing over. With 750 volts running through the catanary wire, you would think it could not freeze. It can, and it does in some places. The train momentarily looses power when the pantrograph slides past a section covered by ice. It is an annoying feeling, and at first I did not understand what it was. A couple of times I had to stop and restart the train, other times I just kept on going.

The snow along the tracks was incredible. At some intersections on Burnside Avenue in Gresham, I knew there were probably tracks ahead of me. Since I could not see them, going forward was something I did on pure faith, a strange feeling with a 109 ton train...

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