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weather cancellations for Midwest Jan 28-31, 2019

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It looks like all the long distance trains out of Chicago are running on Thursday except train 50. It could not run because there is no equipment in Chicago because train 51 did not run on Wednesday. 

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19 hours ago, montana mike said:

I see Amtrak cancelled #7 and #8 for today and I would expect for the next couple of days as well due to the cold?    What a mess for the thousands of passengers of these trains. Will Amtrak try to accommodate all of these pax on later trains or just refund the money and tell them to find their own way?

Even if you accept that cancelling service into and out of Chicago is prudent, you have to think about the fact that these LD trains serve city pairs well away from the polar vortex region. Someone going from Whitefish to Seattle, for instance...or SLC to SAC, or ABQ to LAX...would all see their trains canceled due to a weather pattern 1,000 miles away. It would be nice if Amtrak could short-turn their LD trains in these circumstances.

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51 minutes ago, NorthShore said:

South Shore and Metra Electric are now, also, not running due to catenary issues.

 

 

Apparently, according to the press, if not Metra (which just says until further notice), until at least Friday. What a hassle.

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2 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:

You might be right.  All I know is that the USPS has been slower and/or more expensive than every other postal system I've encountered.  Which makes it sound almost exactly like Amtrak actually.

 

Truly spoken like someone who has never used Canada Post.

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1 hour ago, StanJazz said:

It looks like all the long distance trains out of Chicago are running on Thursday except train 50. It could not run because there is no equipment in Chicago because train 51 did not run on Wednesday. 

Most things in the city are getting closed/cancelled Thursday, also.   So I'd be surprised if Amtrak doesn't change and update that to cancellations later today.

 

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16 minutes ago, Metra Electric Rider said:

Apparently, according to the press, if not Metra (which just says until further notice), until at least Friday. What a hassle.

It always seems to be the case on the electrified lines, alas, with winter weather cancellations.   Seems like it is a sort of taking the easy way out.

 

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29 minutes ago, NorthShore said:

It always seems to be the case on the electrified lines, alas, with winter weather cancellations.   Seems like it is a sort of taking the easy way out.

 

Apparently it does say that on their website, I just didn't notice it. I don't remember service being cancelled before. I mean, Russians and Swedes don't cancel their services in similar conditions....

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Apparently it does say that on their website, I just didn't notice it. I don't remember service being cancelled before. I mean, Russians and Swedes don't cancel their services in similar conditions....
Ice forms on catenary lines in extreme cold. Not sure how Nordic services deal with it.

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7 minutes ago, iplaybass said:
40 minutes ago, Metra Electric Rider said:
Apparently it does say that on their website, I just didn't notice it. I don't remember service being cancelled before. I mean, Russians and Swedes don't cancel their services in similar conditions....

Ice forms on catenary lines in extreme cold. Not sure how Nordic services deal with it.

I think, or suspect, that part of it is the age of the catenary here. As well as it's robustness. It's fairly dry so I don't think that ice is the issue, more brittleness. I lived in Northern Sweden where the temperatures were similar to this multiple times throughout the winter and there were never issues that I remember.

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2 hours ago, StanJazz said:

It looks like all the long distance trains out of Chicago are running on Thursday except train 50. It could not run because there is no equipment in Chicago because train 51 did not run on Wednesday. 

Keep an eye on the website. I expect an additional cancellation.

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50 minutes ago, Metra Electric Rider said:

I think, or suspect, that part of it is the age of the catenary here. As well as it's robustness. It's fairly dry so I don't think that ice is the issue, more brittleness. I lived in Northern Sweden where the temperatures were similar to this multiple times throughout the winter and there were never issues that I remember.

So far the overhead catenary for the light rail in MSP has held up fine through this cold. Age seems to be the best answer - the light rail here is, at most, 15 years old, so there's no 100-year-old (or so) elements in the system.

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And the Milwaukee Hop is running, but on a Sunday schedule. 

Of course, they also have a couple of short sections without catenary, so perhaps potential problems could be bridged by switching to onboard battery, if needed.

 

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They said in a news segment today on WLS, that the problem with the Electric Metra, was that the choice of metal to use when it was constructed was based on expected temperature ranges. They said once it gets to polar temps, that the metal contracts too much, and that causes the problems.

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Folks one thing that is a huge factor in these cancellations is the diesel fuel that is used by the Diesel units. With temps below zero and wind chills well below zero, the fuel might be gelling up. Meaning they can't move. ;) 

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The cancellation of the Long Distance Fleet is a policy that I don’t support.

 

Sure it’s cold but this AM it was (-5) in St Louis MO, now in Admore OK it’s (+40) this evening.   The Chicago yard has two full length inspections lanes, can’t rotated the LD Fleet through the shop?  Just give up. Not a valid policy.

 

Yes I have been on a 18 hour late train due to extreme cold weather issues.  I get what can happen on the road.

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Part of the problem in Chicago is that it's hard for staff to get in - it's far, far colder than we normally have (and we are pretty hardy). A lot of people have to stay home with children who have cancelled school, as well as dealing with failing heat or frozen pipes. I've been trying to work from home, but the heat in my building failed and had to be gotten back on and we're having all kinds of strange problems since then, I'm sure I'm not alone with that.

The design temperature of the metal seems reasonable - this has now been the second coldest day ever in Chicago (by all of one degree above the coldest).

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8 minutes ago, Acela150 said:

Folks one thing that is a huge factor in these cancellations is the diesel fuel that is used by the Diesel units. With temps below zero and wind chills well below zero, the fuel might be gelling up. Meaning they can't move. ;) 

Diesel Fuel additive not available?

Leave the engine running will keep the diesel from gelling up.  Refilling untreated fuel can cause issues.  Nothing like the fuel sitting in a tanker forming ice crystals then getting dumped in a train tank.

 

Sure was a lot of tractor trailer on the side of the road with froze fuel issues leaving Chicago Tuesday, but my truck was not one of them.  Buy good treated fuel, use additive if you fuel up outside the cold area.  Simple.

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5 minutes ago, Just-Thinking-51 said:

Diesel Fuel additive not available?

Leave the engine running will keep the diesel from gelling up.  Refilling untreated fuel can cause issues.  Nothing like the fuel sitting in a tanker forming ice crystals then getting dumped in a train tank.

 

Sure was a lot of tractor trailer on the side of the road with froze fuel issues leaving Chicago Tuesday, but my truck was not one of them.  Buy good treated fuel, use additive if you fuel up outside the cold area.  Simple.

Wind chill would have no effect on diesel fuel in a closed tank.  Wind chill is an effect on exposed skin (or other wet surfaces) where water vapor is carried away by the wind, reducing the humidity in the air immediately adjacent to the skin, which in turn increases the evaporation.  The heat required to evaporate the moisture is drawn from the skin (the only available source), which makes the skin cool off quicker.  None of this is applicable to a tank full of diesel.  Even exposed diesel fuel (for example, in a bucket instead of an enclosed tank) wouldn't experience significant wind chill because the evaporation rate of diesel fuel at sub-zero temperatures is much much lower than water at body temperature.

What matters is the temperature, not the wind chill.

 

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30 minutes ago, John Santos said:

Wind chill would have no effect on diesel fuel in a closed tank.  Wind chill is an effect on exposed skin (or other wet surfaces) where water vapor is carried away by the wind, reducing the humidity in the air immediately adjacent to the skin, which in turn increases the evaporation.  The heat required to evaporate the moisture is drawn from the skin (the only available source), which makes the skin cool off quicker.  None of this is applicable to a tank full of diesel.  Even exposed diesel fuel (for example, in a bucket instead of an enclosed tank) wouldn't experience significant wind chill because the evaporation rate of diesel fuel at sub-zero temperatures is much much lower than water at body temperature.

What matters is the temperature, not the wind chill.

Where did he say anything about wind chill?

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39 minutes ago, Just-Thinking-51 said:

Diesel Fuel additive not available?

Leave the engine running will keep the diesel from gelling up.  Refilling untreated fuel can cause issues.  Nothing like the fuel sitting in a tanker forming ice crystals then getting dumped in a train tank.

 

Sure was a lot of tractor trailer on the side of the road with froze fuel issues leaving Chicago Tuesday, but my truck was not one of them.  Buy good treated fuel, use additive if you fuel up outside the cold area.  Simple.

Even if you leave an engine running that doesn't mean it won't gel. 

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6 minutes ago, cpotisch said:

Where did he say anything about wind chill?

Acela150 did, in comment #39, posted 24 minutes before my comment (not exactly ancient history.)  Just-Thinking was quoting him.

I'm not used to the fact that quotes only go one level deep on this site, so I replied to the comment that quoted the comment I was replying to. 

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1 hour ago, Just-Thinking-51 said:

The cancellation of the Long Distance Fleet is a policy that I don’t support.

 

Sure it’s cold but this AM it was (-5) in St Louis MO, now in Admore OK it’s (+40) this evening.   The Chicago yard has two full length inspections lanes, can’t rotated the LD Fleet through the shop?  Just give up. Not a valid policy.

 

Yes I have been on a 18 hour late train due to extreme cold weather issues.  I get what can happen on the road.

Do you? A lot of this is also contingent on the host. In the case of the LSL, CSX has basically straight railed a humongous portion of the route and basically stated they aren't sending anyone if there is trouble.  In this sort of cold, things are happening to the physical plant (broken rails, switch failures, signal failures) and the equipment, particularly at speed. Aside from the usual toilet, door and HVAC problems, locomotive horn failure crops up once the temperature plummets. Even the electric horns have failed in cold weather.  Now, you have to stop and warn at EVERY grade crossing until you can get in thawed. On Amtrak territory, it is even worse as you are limited to 30mph.

Being out there without support (and possibly running low on fuel and other services) when the host has basically said they'll get to you when they get to you is a recipe for an issue.

 

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10 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:

You might be right.  All I know is that the USPS has been slower and/or more expensive than every other postal system I've encountered.  Which makes it sound almost exactly like Amtrak actually.

Oh come on, you're not being fair to the USPS.  Many years ago, I  dated a woman from South America. One night she came over and found me putting various bills with checks in envelopes, and affixing stamps in preparation for dropping them in the corner mailbox.

A shocked look came over her face.  "You pay your bills by mail?!!  In my country we'd never think of doing that, if we expected the payment to be delivered.  We either pay in person or hire a courier to deliver the payment."

Thirty years later, I'm still paying bills by mail, and have never had any problems, so maybe USPS isn't as bad as a lot of people think it is.

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