The heater works far better than passive warm air blowers ~ above the large area of switches.Metra, the commuter train service that covers Chicagoland, is fighting ice with fire.

To combat the major cold and winter weather that hits Chicago"s urban area this time that year, Metra uses controlled burns come melt disruptive ice from train switches. Watch the procedure in activity here:


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When serious cold and winter weather hits, Metra fights it v fire. Get the within scoop about our move heaters here: https://t.co/BkMxJx8VSo #winter #metra pic.twitter.com/F4yGIV6CYX

— Metra (

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Fire solves a huge problem because that the commuter trains. Ice cream accumulates and also freezes even more quickly on steel tracks due to the fact that of the means metal holds cold temperatures. When that ice is top top the Metra train switch—the ar where trains can change routes by convert tracks—it disrupts the circulation of electricity that help train designers keep driving in ~ speed. The trains need to slow to a halt and also wait because that the switch instead of passing with quickly.


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Metra’s open flames look at dramatic, but the technology is more like your gas cooktop than noþeles else: a very safe, controlled fire fueled by a gas line that runs adjacent to the rail. Metra says this is useful due to the fact that one particular switch, A-2, can’t be served by their usual equipment of a warm air blower.


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A-2 is Chicagoland’s busiest intersection the Metra tracks. The Chicago Tribune explained in 2019:

“More 보다 350 trains pass v the stretch daily. Overseeing all of the train web traffic is a convert apparatus built in the 1930s. A Metra employee functions a heat of levers ~ above the maker like an old-time telephone operator, managing 31 air-powered switches ~ above the tracks outside. The switching system still works most of the time, but it was constructed for a various era, as soon as rail service was conquered by freight and long-distance passenger trains.”

Mechanical operations from the 1930s have the right to still operate fine if they’re fine maintained, yet Metra desires to update to minimize the bottleneck caused by raised commuter trains. The Tribune defines that Metra should custom fabricate any type of parts essential for that 1930s workings. And it’s straightforward to see how this critical bottleneck need to be lot worse under icy conditions.