How do train companies clear the snow off the tracks?

by | Jan 4, 2011 06:44 PM ET

Trains tracks have the same kind of problems that roads do with snow. If too much snow gets on the track, the trains can't go through. Because trains often go through some treacherous places, like high-altitude mountain passes, the amount of snow can sometimes be huge. But one advantage that trains have is the fact that the tracks are free of obstacles.

So how do you clear the snow off the tracks? There are three options. The first is basic plowing, using the huge power and weight of a locomotive to bulldoze snow out of the way:

The second way is a rotary show plow. Here's the blade of one up close:

Spinning up:

And in action on about 8 feet of snow:

The third option is to mount a jet engine on a train and use the heat and velocity of the exhaust to blow off the snow. This is such a device in the summer:

If you fast forward 45 seconds in the following video, it looks more like it is being used to clear ice around a switch:

See also:

- How to build modern railroad track – the machinery is amazing

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