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Old 02-09-2015, 04:11 PM
 
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So how reliable is rail transportation during inclement weather? For those who have not been following the recent weather in the northeast, this article follows two weeks of severe delays of rail based mass transit on the Boston system.

MBTA Cancels All Rail Service Monday Night - Massachusetts news - Boston.com

“The accumulating snow is making it virtually impossible to keep rail lines operational,” according to the MBTA website.
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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It depends on if the rail is above or below ground. It also depends on how bad the weather is, many above ground lines are capable of handling up to a foot of snow, but not so much for extreme weather.

I know in Portland, when we get an ice storm, they would run the trains constantly 24 hrs a day to prevent ice build up on the lines.
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Not a problem here

Bigger concern the local demographic driving on the tracks. That's a pretty regular problem here.
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Old 02-10-2015, 08:21 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Here the tracks north of Seattle to Everett are prone to landslides, often closing and requiring rail commuters to use replacement buses. Most recently, it happened last week. We don't get enough snow to be a bother except maybe once every 10-15 years.
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Old 02-10-2015, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Chicago - Logan Square
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Rail reliability depends on exactly the same things as road reliability - how much manpower and equipment is on hand to deal with it. That's why Atlanta can be shut down by a couple inches of snow and Boston can keep going with a couple feet of snow.

Over the last 17 days Boston has gotten 6 feet of snow, and none of it has melted. Even when they do have the ability to move the snow there's nowhere to put it. Those are record breaking numbers, and something that they don't have the equipment and manpower to handle in one day. They'll have everything up and running tomorrow.
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Old 02-11-2015, 07:44 PM
 
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Rail can be much more reliable in the snow. Case in point: New Mexico Rail Runner. The first day of service to Santa Fe riders were treated to passing spin outs along I-25 (the line runs in the median). Chicago and New York the trains run almost on time while delays snowball on the expressways.
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Washington D.C. By way of Texas
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In DC, it depends on how big the snow storm is. If it's over 6 inches, there is a chance that all metro stations that are above ground will be closed and all the underground stations will still operate. If it's a foot, you're out of luck if you live in the burbs. I remember five years ago around this time, all the underground stations inside the city remained open but if you needed to get to Benning Road, you had to walk in the snow to get there.
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:47 PM
 
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In Minneapolis, our light rail seems to be the best option during bad weather; it keeps going even when cars and buses are stopped or are creeping along at a glacial speed.

(Not sure about our heavy rail; we have one line, and it's often late due to non-weather issues)
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
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Snow has never been much of a problem for rail transit; the only problem I can think of (with the exception of drifting in the plains states and very heavy snow in non-urbanized places like the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas) is when electrical catenary is affected by an ice storm -- rare, but it has happened.
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Old 02-14-2015, 04:53 PM
 
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Pretty much a disaster for NJ Transit. Equipment breaks down causing delays, crowding, and cancellations (sticking doors are a big one for smaller delays; electric locomotives for cancellations). Ice builds up on the North (Hudson) River tunnels. Power lines fail. The Portal Bridge, never reliable, fails to close more often.
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