The cold wave is gripping through Central, Eastern United States, and parts of Central and Eastern Canada. The extreme low temperatures is breaking hundred year old records in some places.
Temperatures go as below as −29 °C, however due to gusty winds the temperature feels like −50 °C. These cold conditions have forced many people to stay indoors, also it increases chances of hypothermia.
Residents in Chicago want to keep things moving. So for the Chicago’s Metra commuter rail system to be operational the tracks can’t freeze up.
So, flames from gas fed heaters run along the rail tracks to keep them warm.
Why is this done? A rail defect occurs during extreme low conditions. The extreme cold shrinks the metal and the rails literally pull apart from each other. Heating the tracks with fire expands the metal until the two rails can be put back together again.
Railroad switch points can be locked with snow and ice, so flames are used to unclog them. Maintenance crews light the heaters by hand and can control the flow of the gas. Crew men work 12 hour shifts.
Earlier the crew use to spill kerosene and light the tracks by hand. The gas pipeline makes it much simpler.
Although the railroad joints can be damaged by this is the only method to maintain safety.