Although train schedules are affected by weather, trains can and do run in many weather conditions.
Can trains run in high winds? Do high winds affect train travel?
As you probably know, winds are an important factor airliners take in consideration when they plan their flight corridor. However, winds are not to be overlooked by railroads either, and they’re not.
To answer the question, yes trains do run in high winds, but it depends what you understand by high winds.
According to Weather.gov, there are 12 types of winds, ranging from Calm to Hurricane Force.
Hurricane Force has a wind speed of over 75MPH and it can knock off small mobile homes, peel off roofs and push automobiles off the road. At this speed, the conditions can be extremely dangerous, even for trains.
High winds can be dangerous for empty train cars, however the winds have to be extremely strong to be able to knock a car or a train off the tracks, due to the train’s weight.
The indirect effect of high winds on trains can be more dangerous than the direct effect.
By the indirect effect we understand, winds that cause trees or other objects to fall on the tracks, creating a potential derailment situation.
Most railroads have protocols set in place for high winds, like slowing down and following the tracks closely. Railroads do have teams that respond to on track maintenance. They also follow weather software that predicts any potential danger to the tracks.
In conclusion, trains can travel in winds and high winds, the schedule will be affected and delays will happen. The wind speed will be assessed by the railroad safety teams and if travel cannot be done in a safe manner, the operations will cease.