• Windstorm, trees down?

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by RussNelson
We had a nasty windstorm and rain come through yesterday evening, with trees down on multiple roads. I know how they get dealt with on roads (people who live nearby get their tractors and chainsaws out), but how do railroads deal with large (>12") trees down across the tracks? In the case of the CSX St. Lawrence branch, they would have time before the next train to send out a Hy-Rail, chainsaw, and a couple of burley guys. But how do they handle it on a more heavily used line with trains spaced every twenty minutes?
  by RussNelson
Well, more along the line of what I was thinking is that on a line that crowded, chances are pretty good that the tree is going to fall ON a train as between. Even if it fell between trains, when the next train comes along, it has to stop for the tree. Do they send the hy-rail back down the line? If I was going to do that kind of work, I'd *really* want a winch to be able to shift the logs, cuz they ain't light. I just can't help but think that it would be a complete freaking disaster as far as scheduling goes.
  by henry6
No seriously: the same. A hi-railer gang will go out and do the initial clearing as things happen. They may cut and remove all from the track or tracks, maybe pile it up on the ROW to be picked up later or put on own truck or trailer and take away with them. Believe it or not, it is a more common procedure than you might think as trees, etc. often fall without there being a real heavy storm. Normal track patrols will usually take care of thing. But if there is a storm or an incident reported, then a special assignment will be made.
  by Otto Vondrak
It doesn't matter if your railroad has one train a day or one every twenty minutes, with trees down, tracks are blocked, traffic stops. Crews with hirail trucks and chainsaws go out there, cut up the trees, and get the traffic moving as quickly as possible.

Happens all the time on Metro-North, unfortunately. And sadly, we've had one engineer fatality in recent memory due to a downed tree outside Scarsdale, NY station.

  by Engineer Spike
Sometimes the trees fall after the line has been cleared. I have seen many engines with bent handrails and broken windows and ditch lights, due to hitting trees. The worst problem here is that the brain surgeons in the MOW just cut it back to clear the track. One could not ride a car by them.
  by BR&P
June 9, 1906, an elm tree eighty feet tall and three feet in diameter blew down across the BR&P tracks near Pavilion NY. A double headed freight running about 50 MPH hit it at about 4AM, resulting in a major wreck and the death of Fireman Louis Franks.

Hard to imagine hitting a tree that big, especially at 50 per.