Can Snow Derail a train?

Winter is a magical time. If you need to travel, why waste those precious moments in an airport? Taking a train in the winter can be unique and breathtaking.
Admiring the captivating winter scenes, white mountains, deep blue skies and icy forests from your cozy and warm seat can be mesmerizing.

Everything sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Beside all of the above, you might be worried or wondering if snow can derail a train. Let’s find out.
Can snow derail a train?
It depends on the speed and/or weight of the train and what type of snow. Snow can be a problem for running trains, but it really doesn’t affect the rail. Just like on the roads, the snow needs to be moved away. Trains use what is called a “wedge plow” to clear the way. The wedge plow forces snow to the sides of the tracks and therefore requires a large amount of force due to the compression of snow.

How about ice?

Ice can have a huge effect on railroad operations, slowing everything down.
Accelerating or braking on icy tracks can be problematic because the train wheels  and rail are both made of steel. Icy rails reduce the traction available to a train, resulting in the wheel slipping/sliding. The train could miss red signals or even their stops, ending up in a collision but there are speed restrictions to reduce the risks. As long as the train doesn’t move too fast, it isn’t in danger of derailing.
While winter and weather can’t be prevented or predicted, all we can do is prepare for it.