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Ice Patrol

Winter can be a challenging season for rail travel, especially along the Northeast Corridor, where snow and ice can cause delays and disruptions. One of the biggest threats to the smooth operation of trains is the formation of icicles in the Hudson River tunnels. These icicles can damage the overhead wires that power the locomotives and pose a safety hazard for passengers and crew.

To prevent this problem, Amtrak employs a special team of workers called the Amtrak Ice Patrol, who are responsible for clearing the icicles from the tunnels before they become too large or dangerous. The Ice Patrol sends out three or four crews a day to battle the ice before they pose a threat. The crews travel through the tunnels, scanning for icicles, and when one gets noticed by a crew member, the Ice Patrol car comes to a stop, and members of the Ice Patrol begin using yellow poles to remove the icicles. 

The Ice Patrol is not an easy job, as it involves working in cold, dark, and wet conditions, sometimes for hours at a time. The workers must wear protective gear, such as helmets, goggles, gloves, and boots, to avoid injuries from falling ice or electric shocks. They also must coordinate with the train dispatchers and signal operators, to ensure that they do not interfere with the regular train traffic in the tunnels as much as possible.

The Amtrak Ice Patrol is a vital part of NJ TRANSIT’s and Amtrak’s winter operations, as it helps to maintain the reliability and safety of the trains that carry hundreds of thousands of passengers every day. By removing the icicles from the tunnels, the ice patrol ensures that the trains can run on time and without interruption, even in the coldest and snowiest months of the year.