Metra, CTA gearing up for winter storms

- The city of Chicago is prepared to keep things moving through what forecasters are predicting could be a snow-filled and frigid weekend.

The city started stockpiling its fleet of salt mounds in July. Now, it has more than 300,000 tons of salt ready for this winter.

The CTA has a number of different means to clear the snow from the tracks to keep their trains moving throughout the weekend. Snowplow blades are attached to the front of rail cars to clear the snow while track switch heaters are also being turned on.

If necessary, the CTA will send out its diesel-powered snow fighter locomotives.

Metra said it was mobilizing its crews to get ahead of problems. Metra officials said 350 workers will be sent out to shovel and salt platforms.

In the event of a major storm, they plan to run extra "ice trains" to keep ice from accumulating on overheard power lines. For more winter weather information from IDOT, check out their website here.

“Metra has made a variety of improvements that leave us well-prepared for winter’s onslaught, including more and better switch heaters and better jet blowers to clear snow,” said Metra Executive Director and CEO Don Orseno.

Preparations included:

• Dispatching signal/switch maintainers to key locations and staffing them 24/7 to keep switches free of ice and snow;

• sending out 350 workers to shovel and salt station platforms;

• putting crews and equipment in place to keep rail yards free from bottlenecks;

• fueling locomotives overnight instead of during midday servicing, since fueling during storms can take longer;

• Metra will also leave locomotives on overnight if temperatures fall too low;

• running “ice trains” overnight on the Electric Line to prevent ice accumulation on overhead power lines.

Customers can get information about Metra service and delays during the storms through email, the Ventra app, at www.metrarail.com and on Twitter.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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