Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The "switch problems" GO Transit mantra of Winter 2013/2014

Just got this email in from GO Transit:

Lakeshore East Passengers:

A snowfall warning is currently in effect for the GTHA.

In conditions like this, GO's number one priority is to get you to your destination safely. By limiting the number of trains crossing over onto other tracks, we reduce the likelihood of switch problems as well as snow and ice buildup. As a result we will be making the following changes to our schedule for the afternoon/ evening of February 5th:

- Union 16:25 - Oshawa 17:12 train trip is cancelled.
- Oshawa 17:22 - Union 18:21 train trip is cancelled.
- Union 17:35 - Pickering 18:16 train trip is cancelled.
- Pickering 18:25 - Union 19:05 train trip is cancelled.
- Union 17:10 - Oshawa 17:58 will operate as an all stops train.
- Union 17:20 - Oshawa 18:16 will operate as an all stops train.
- Union 17:53 - Oshawa 18:40 will operate as an all stops train.
- All Stouffville line trains will be making stops at Danforth GO and Scarborough GO.

We will do our best to keep all of our trains running on-time but delays may be experienced.

Tell me I'm lying.


Anonymous said...

OMG. You're so awesome. LOL
But Metrolinx does have heated switches installed on some of the rail lines. I don't know if it's actually flames but they exist.

C.J. Smith said...

It's how I envision the reason for delays... I couldn't help myself.

As for heated switches, I'm waiting for a rail nerd to come by and tell us all how that works because I don't think GO lines actually have flames and if they do, does the train hit 88 MPH?

Long time reader said...

I think they do! May I point you to a photo you posted last March >

C.J. Smith said...

I'm blonde. You have to take that into consideration. I have moments. But I don't think that had to do with switches. I think it was rail work. I didn't put a description.

Anonymous said...

Is that a hairdryer?

C.J. Smith said...

LOL. Yep

Michael Suddard said...

Am I thinking the whole switch problem has been an ongoing saga for 10+ years?

If so, this makes Presto look like a children's book the story is so long.

Anonymous said...

Did you make the picture with the blow dryer?

George said...

Rail Nerd reporting in:

The switch heaters are natural gas powered and blow warm, not hot (it cools quite quickly in the vent) air into the spaces between the moving parts. They do a good job normally but today was just over the top. The snow was falling faster than it could be melted.

The big problem is the snow that collects under trains like it does under a car. When the train hits a switch, it can be dislodged and fall between the rails causing the moving parts to get stuck open or closed because the heaters can't melt the lumps of snow and ice fast enough.

This is a problem in every city with regional rail and tons of snow. Nobody has found a perfect solution yet.

C.J. Smith said...

So essentially a gas-powered blowdryer... I WAS SO CLOSE!

Anonymous said...

Train yards have crews blowing hand operated switches clean. Main lines have power operated switches that have blowers blowing hot air at the switch points. Sometimes they turn off then the switch is frozen. Hence, causing switch issues.

Anonymous said...

My personal favourite GO excuse (albeit not in season) is "wheel slippage" from wet leaves on the track. Who knew??

George said...

Anon, it's a very real problem in the fall when the leaves turn. A very slippery semi-liquid is created when leaves are compressed on the rails. Since liquid is non-compressible, the wheels lose traction and slip. This can cause excessive wheel wear so a lot of trains now are equipped with a mechanism that spreads sand on the rails in the fall.

I was on a Stouffville train that literally slid down the tracks while braking towards a station once. The noise of the stopped wheel when it hit a dry patch was incredibly loud. Enough to make everyone in our car to jump and some to scream a little :)