MTA Metro-North Railroad's Winter Weather Guide
Winter weather is a fact of life in the Northeastern United States and as a passenger railroad operating here, Metro-North is prepared to operate in cold weather.
In anticipation of a storm, the railroad begins to take precautions with the fleet and the infrastructure. The railroad also must decide how many extra people will be needed to protect the service and clear platforms. And based on the severity of the forecast, the railroad tries to anticipate customer demand. Many people typically stay home when during a snow storm. The railroad must whether to reduce service, and when to put those service reductions into effect.
While decisions on service are made in advance, during a storm conditions change and there may be a need to make further schedule changes depending on the condition of track and power systems, the number of train cars available, and the location and availability of employees, who have to brave the weather and snowy road to get to work.
Before the storms of winter arrive, Metro-North prepares by winterizing the fleet:
Door motors are sprayed with ethylene or propylene glycol (an anti- freeze agent). Gaskets for doors are double-checked and repaired/improved to keep blowing snow out of electric door motors.
Air brake lines are purged of any moisture to prevent them from freezing.
Horns and air intakes for electric traction motors are covered with custom-fit, elastic bordered Irish linen to keep snow out. (A snow-impacted horn can cause an entire train to be taken out of service.)
Exposed gears on locomotives are sprayed with ethylene or propylene glycol.
Locomotive fuel is treated to prevent any moisture from freezing within the fuel lines.
The gears in more than 900 switches - the moving pieces of track that allow trains to change from one track to another - are treated with ethylene/propylene glycol to keep them it free of ice. Switch heaters, like the wiring in a heating pad, are turned on. And by remote control, the Operations Control Center keeps the switches moving throughout the night to help keep them from freezing.
Jet engine snow blowers, mounted on flat cars start operation when snow accumulations begin. Pilot (snow plow) trains are in operation as needed, especially overnight.
All electric trains are fitted with special third rail shoes that have holes in them so snow does not stick to them and build up, which interferes with the contact. Trains with pantographs keep moving all night clearing catenary wires on the New Haven Line. Patrol trains move through the territory, dropping off and picking up Metro-North employees to clean/salt/sand station platforms.
When a storm is coming, customers are urged to be prepared and stay informed by checking www.mta.info for updates, including modified emergency schedules. Sign up for email and text message alerts. Listen to television and radio news. This is the fastest way to find out how train service is affected by the weather and the railroad continuously provides information to the media.
The Customer Information Center at 212-532-4900 will have a taped message upfront describing current service conditions. Because the volume of calls increases dramatically during a weather emergency, delays getting through to a representative are likely.
Keep a copy of the current Metro-North timetable. If you cannot access our emergency schedules on the web, it will provide you with a reference point for train departure times from your station if severe weather causes us to alter service.
Customer safety is Metro-North's primary goal, so:
Always watch your step and look for icy conditions in station parking lots, and on station sidewalks, stairs, and platforms. Remember: Ice tends to form more quickly on train platforms than on other surfaces. Even if a platform looks clear, it can have icy patches.
Always use stair handrails. Water dripping from overcoats, boots, and umbrellas can ice up with the slightest temperature drop, making stairs very slippery. A firm grip on a handrail can prevent serious injury. Always watch for slippery conditions, even after you board your train. Snow, slush, and ice from boots make train floors slippery. Always avoid moving from car to car. Icy conditions exist in the areas between cars.
Important phone numbers:
MTA Metro-North Railroad
Customer Information Center
MTA New York City Transit
Westchester County Bee Line Bus
Transport of Rockland
Putnam County Transit
Dutchess County Loop
New York Waterway
Housatonic Area Regional Transit
(Metro-North owned/operated facilities)