Video: Train tracks set on fire in Chicago to beat the cold

 

Video: Train tracks set on fire in Chicago to beat the cold

It's for practical reasons

By Web Report

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Published: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 7:45 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 9:47 PM

Passengers of Chicago's Metra commuter train system was left baffled after seeing parts of the train tracks ablaze. The flames were seen spouting from the tracks earlier on Tuesday as the city faces harsh, below zero temperatures.
According to a CNN report, the flames are built alongside the rails and are used for a very practical reason - to keep the trains running. A spokesman for the Metra said the flames are there to keep the rails warm. "Anytime it's below freezing were using these," Michael Gillis, a spokesperson for the Metra said. He added that other rail systems in North America use similar systems.
But why heat up the rails?
The same report says that tracks can be affected by extreme cold in two ways. The first of these are "pull-aparts." It is a rail defect where two rails separate at their connection. The extreme cold shrinks the metal which then makes the rails literally pull apart from each other. Heating the track does the opposite effect and expands the metal so they can be put together again.

The other hazard are the railroad switch points becoming clogged with ice and snow. The heating system is used to unclog them and prevent any build-up.
The fires are lit by hand by specialised maintenance crews who then control the flow of the gas. The crew members work 12-hour shifts and continuously monitor the flames.


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