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Chicago rail firm fights frozen track with fire

switch heaters

The polar vortex hitting the US Midwest has led one rail firm in Chicago to use fire to defrost sets of points.

Metra Rail has installed a customised gas-fed raw flame heating system onto the tracks at the A-2, Chicago’s busiest railway junction. The heating system runs next to the rail and is used to keep sets of points clear and warm. The firm also uses heaters and hot air blowers to keep switch points warm.

Source: Metra rail

Milwaukee District director of engineering John Meyer said that while the hot air blowers are ideal for heating sets of points, they are not  used at A-2 density of the crossovers there.

“At A-2, with the configuration, there’s no way to put them in the middle of the plant,” said Meyer. “You’d have to put pipes across all the tracks and then they’d lose heat.”

The US Midwest is currently suffering from temperatures below -20ºC, and millions of people have been warned to stay inside. 

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