MTA New York City Transit Keeps Trains Rolling During Winter Weather

Providing safe, reliable service has always been MTA New York City Transit's top priority. During inclement weather, especially snow storms, NYC Transit works even harder to ensure riders get to where they need to go safely and quickly.

MTA New York City Transit's Department of Subways maintains a fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks and the third rail clear of snow and ice during harsh winter weather. The fleet includes super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and specially-built de-icing cars, all designed to keep service moving. This equipment provides the ability to run trains more often, which also serves as a way to keep tracks clear of snow.

"Our goal is to keep our services up and running so that our customers can get to where they need to be no matter what the weather," said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. "We have a tremendous investment in machinery, manpower and experience so that customer confidence remains high in our ability to transport them safely."

The expectation of heavy snow brings the order to move all out of service trains from outdoors yards and store them underground. But while the subway portions of the system remain unaffected, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track around the system and NYC Transit has heavy-duty equipment designed to move snow, melt ice and do anything else required to maintain service in less than ideal weather conditions. Routes running along the surface and in open cuts, such as the Rockaway, Sea Beach and Dyre Ave. Lines, are particularly vulnerable to snow and freezing weather.

During a heavy snowstorm, such as the one that hit the city in 2006, tracks on outdoor subway lines must be cleared often, and the third rails kept free of ice. Also, the outdoor steps at all 468 subway stations must be shoveled and salted along with the outdoor platforms.

Subway Snow Fighting Equipment

Snow Throwers (four) – Precise directional snow throwing equipment that includes a two stage impeller and side mounted rotating brushes to throw snow up to 200 feet and can remove 3,000 tons of snow an hour. This is similar to a household snow blower, just a lot bigger.

Jet Blowers (five) – This equipment uses a jet engine to remove accumulated snow from the roadbed and deposit it a distance from the tracks so that it cannot slide back. This piece of equipment is used primarily to keep the yards clear.

De-Icer Cars (six) – Equipped with scraper shoes that scrape off ice and directs a stream of de-icing fluid to melt and/or prevent ice buildup on the third rail. If ice is permitted to build up, subway car power pickup equipment will not be able to draw electric current from the third rail and the train will stop.

Ballast Regulator – Uses brush/broom to evenly sweep and push up snow onto an undercab conveyer and away from the track.

Rider Cars – Heated/Insulated work cars that can be used to carry crews and equipment to snow removal work sites. These cars are equipped with ice-scraping equipment to help keep the third rail clear.

Locomotives – All Diesel Locomotives are equipped with small snow plows at both ends to assist in scraping snow and ice off the road bed and transporting the other snow removal work cars. The locomotives are also fitted with scraper shoes to remove ice from the third rail.