How To Maintain The Rails In Alaska’s Harsh Winter!
How do you repair a rail in sub-zero freezing temperatures?
You set it on fire of course!
Railroading is a tough job, no matter who you are, no matter where you are. Each employee has encountered their fair share of problems to overcome, challenges to complete, and errors to fix. No one knows this more so than rail maintenance crews, whose job it is to ensure the trains can keep running. That way train crews need only worry about their own set of issues, with out having to deal with broken or degrading rails!
Workers have to be careful not to inhale the chemicals from the fire as they are toxic!
But what happens when you work the rails in one of the toughest territories in the Americas? Enter Alaska, one of the toughest and only remaining untamed regions left in the United States. The winter can be very hostile for running freight, so track maintenance is more important than ever!
The Fire Snake replaced lighting the old diesel saturated rope, which was often made of asbestos!
What do you do then, when the extreme cold and moisture of the harsh Alaskan winter season sets in and deforms the rails? It’s simple science of course: you light it on fire! Using what is known as a Fire Snake, essentially a flammable gel encased in tubing, the metals temperature is able to rise, increasing the rails malleability, making them more receptive to the repairs necessary!
What other severe weather conditions do you know of that require out of the box thinking and techniques to manage? We’d love to hear from you on this!