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There is the new (?) phenomenon of powder snow making it through the cooling vents, melting, and short-circuiting electronic components as witnessed last winter with Eurostar and ICE trains.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 04:26:57 AM EST
It's not exactly new; what's new is bad maintenance or even lack of design of proper prevention/mitigation measures (the case with both the Eurostar and DB breakdowns last winter). Even if the operators responsible preferred to blame special weather conditions...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 04:53:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For DB, we had the same in summer, too, with air conditioning not scaled for 40°C outside temperatures... (though that cost-saving idiocy was still not as bad as for the refurbished commuter train coaches around Budapest, which have air conditioning with a power insufficient at any positive temperature difference, as the heat input from direct sunlight was apparently not taken into account...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 04:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This definitely isn't new at least in the states. Some equipment like the M-1's and even the venerable GG-1, all now retired, were particularly sensative to shutting down in fine, powdery snow.

Heavy snow is in general a problem if the equipment is not designed for it. It packs into the suspension, onto cables and blocks vents. The weight can pull cabling apart. Snow/ice jammed suspensions can at least worsen the ride quality. Repeated heating, like on brake gear, will cause the snow to melt and then refreeze to ice potentially causing problems if and when these chunks start falling off. You can also lose braking force due to snow or sometimes lock the brakes on an axle for 240 miles!

This report illustrates both the problems with snow and some of the ways to improve designs to deal with it.

by Jace on Mon Dec 6th, 2010 at 12:44:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the great links!

Heat the catenary.
It could be necessary to heat the overhead wire at some locations during extra tough weather conditions. Sometimes it is sufficient with the heat generated by the traction current why a frequent traffic is preferable from this aspect. Sometimes an additional reactive current is used to prevent or reduce the build up of rime on the contact wire.

So the Nordic countries indeed do it, too, albeit no details are given.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 6th, 2010 at 02:46:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're welcome. The Swedisn report is quite comprehensive. As for that Canadian accident, nice flat, eh?
by Jace on Mon Dec 6th, 2010 at 03:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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