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Snow clearing in NZ

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Great footage of train clearing snow off the tracks through Arthurs Pass after a big storm this week.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6acPX_00M9Q&feature=player_detailpage

 
post #2 of 15

Epic.

post #3 of 15

Railroads have evolved some amazing snow removal systems.  Great video.

 

snowplow.jpg

post #4 of 15
I'm a docent at a summer museum in Breckenridge called the Rotary Snowplow Park. We have on display a typical steam-powered rotary snowplow similar to the one in your pix from the late 1800s. The display actually is a rotary from Alaska's White Pass railway, and here's a video of their sister rotary to ours being used to clear the tracks in the spring before the start of their summer tourist railroad trip season:





post #5 of 15

Nice to see New Zealand getting some of the good stuff.  Hope they have a great winter!

post #6 of 15

Kneale, what are the railroads doing today to handle REALLY BIG dumps?  Like the 100" storms in the Sierras and the Cascades?  For that matter what did Breckenridge do when they had the monster winter of 18??

post #7 of 15

The Tuscola Saginaw Bay Railway, which serviced most of Michigan still had huge V-plows a snowblowers for big snow clearing. 

I saw a Snowblower attached to a train here in the Sierra last winter.  Pretty cool to watch. 

post #8 of 15

That train was in the "whiteroom"!!!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2meke View Post

Great footage of train clearing snow off the tracks through Arthurs Pass after a big storm this week.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6acPX_00M9Q&feature=player_detailpage

 
post #9 of 15

I kept waiting for the snow to pile up in front and stop the train, but it just kept going and going. 

post #10 of 15

It is good to see this older technology in action.  This was the same type of equipment that was used on the Great Northern tracks in 1910 when they were trying to rescue a train load of people stuck near Stevens Pass in the Cascades.  They were unsuccessful in clearing the tracks before the train was wiped off the side of the mountain by an avalanche in the worst train disaster in US history: almost 100 people died.  The snow was so deep that it went above the top of the rotary mechanism and they had to have workers shovel the snow down before they could get the machine in to work.  They took care of this later by digging a tunnel under the mountains so they don't have to clear the snow up at the higher elevations anymore.  

 

There is a great book, "The White Cascade" by Gary Krist that tells the story.  It's an extremely engaging book which I read while skiing for a week at Stevens Pass where I drove right by the scene of the disaster each day on my way to the mountain.  It was creepy and fascinating at the same time.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Kneale, what are the railroads doing today to handle REALLY BIG dumps?  Like the 100" storms in the Sierras and the Cascades?  For that matter what did Breckenridge do when they had the monster winter of 18??

 

They use snow plows.  In many cases these are identical set ups to what they used in the early 1900s.  They consist of a plow car, which is really just a giant wedge, behind that is a "spreader" car which has giant wings which push the snow away from the tracks further then what the plow car can shove...the whole thing is then driven by a 4500hp AC Traction Locomotive (at least that is what CPR uses in the mountain subdivisions) and there is a caboose behind that for work crews.  The crews are needed to get out and clean the switches etc by hand.

 

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=173363&nseq=17

 

You can see the plow here.  The spreader is behind with the wings in, although that is a tiny one.  The Locomotive goes behind it, but infront of the caboose you can see at the back.  These units are sitting at the Revelstoke Railway musuem, but the plows anyway are the same today...infact, the same units, just with some refurbishments.

 

When the big storms are coming these things run constantly keeping the track open and shoving the snow back.  The trick is to stay ahead of it, so the snow never piles up too deep.   If they get a major slide hit the track, then they either try to punch through with the plow, or its really big, they use a Cat 980G front end loader to remove it. 

 

Fighting the snow in places like Rogers Pass is a major job.

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Kneale, what are the railroads doing today to handle REALLY BIG dumps?  Like the 100" storms in the Sierras and the Cascades?  For that matter what did Breckenridge do when they had the monster winter of 18??

143972286.jpg



This is the rotary snowplow on display in Breckenridge, sister machine built in about 1890 to the one in the earlier video. The railroad through Breck had one similar to this that they used until rail service ended in 1937, then it went to Leadville to keep snow off the tracks to the Climax mine. It was scrapped when the shaft driving the rotor broke.

There are a couple similar machines of similar vintage stationed near Donner Pass for use in big snowfalls, there's supposed to be one near Chicago also still in use, and another in Wyoming. The ones still in use have been converted from steam to diesel to power the rotor. These machines required engines to push them. In our case, sometimes as many as six or seven of the little engines used on the narrow gauge tracks here.

Breckenridge's rail service was interrupted in 1898-99 for 78 days because of huge drifts on the tracks between town and Boreas Pass. Since the town at that time relied almost exclusively on the railroad to bring in supplies (before railroads came in 1882, there were freight wagons, and before that there were packanimal trains), residents hiked repeatedly the 12 miles to the pass to meet trains that could come that far and hauled mail and absolutely necessary items back on sleds or in backpacks.

As Skinerd says, most snow removal today is done by huge V-plows and/or bulldozers, but rotaries still are in use.
post #13 of 15

Nice to see NZ is getting big storms early!

 

Short documentary on Sierra Rail plows

 

 

Sometimes it seems Nebraska is tougher.  Check out the train getting stuck.

 


 


Edited by Cirquerider - 6/11/12 at 11:09am
post #14 of 15

We got one of these up in Boston:  http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/01/23/mbtas_mattapan_line_relies_on_snowzilla_in_worst_weather/

 

But that's not exactly gonna cut it in the kind of dumps you guys get at high altitude out West.  :-)

post #15 of 15
California may have to pull their rotary plows out again!
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