Do trains run when it’s raining? Absolutely, trains can run when it’s raining. However, in some conditions, travel time can be delayed or even canceled.
Downpours, loud thunder, flooding — it’s inevitable at certain times of the year.
Unfortunately, these conditions can sometimes force you to scramble and make alternative travel arrangements — which can be a bummer.
But, these usually apply to flights and road trips.
Does the same thing apply to trains? Do trains run when it’s raining? Do freight trains make other shipment plans when the weather is bad?
The answer is yes! Trains can run and operate when it’s raining. Trains have windshields that allow sufficient visibility for safe operation.
Railways also have their own professional weather-tracking systems to keep their employees up-to-date. And in the case of dangerous weather conditions, the system will trigger alerts.
However, extreme instances like storms and flash floods can significantly reduce the train’s visibility.
This may need the train to slow down its pace. In turn, it can cause some delays in the schedule. And in really bad cases, unfortunately, train trips may need to be canceled.
Let’s talk more about it.
Do Trains Run When It’s Raining? 5 Different Conditions To Consider
A little bit of rain will not prevent you from taking your well-awaited trip or daily work routine!
However, excessive rainfall, floods, and storms may significantly impact your chances of reaching your destination on schedule or even at all.
So, let’s go in-depth on four different rain conditions and how they impact train travel.
Don’t worry, a little drizzle or rainfall won’t cancel your trip! However, it may result in delays.
Rain causes the railway tracks to become wet and therefore slippery, which reduces their friction.
Furthermore, the train must decelerate to account for the additional braking distance.
Also, a slower-moving train may cause delays. So, when there’s rain, the best thing to do is add more travel time to your schedule. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
But overall, a wet day shouldn’t cause you to reschedule your plans. Nor should you worry about taking the train. It’s a very safe mode of transportation.
The Amtrak network in the United States consists of more than 21,000 miles of track. And that’s a whole lot — if you can imagine!
When severe rainfall or thunderstorms, flooding may occur alongside or over the tracks.
Trains are not equipped to travel over high-flooded areas. And even a small flood may wash away the stone, sand, and other components underneath the rails.
This, in turn, makes the railway subject to danger. If a train passes a flawed or broken track, it can derail and cause harm to passengers.
Additionally, flooding may harm motors that were not designed to be immersed in water. It can lead to short circuits and other mechanical failures.
Often, flooding does not prevent trains from running. However, if water levels exceed the tracks, trains must slow their speed to minimize damage, resulting in potential delays.
And of course, if the weather is extreme, cancellation is highly possible.
Overall, it really depends on the severity of the flood, and the decision of the conductor and the train company.
In this case, make sure to keep yourself updated on the weather. Check in on both where you currently are and your destination.
You should also have alternative or backup transportation if your original arrangements fall through.
3. Lightning Storms
Lightning storms typically accompany flooding. So, you may be concerned about whether or not you should travel during these times.
A train is constructed primarily out of metal. And metal with electricity may be harmful, right? Nope — the train you’re aboard is armed to the teeth!
Modern trains are constructed around a “Farraday Cage.” This is a lightning-safe steel cage. If lightning were to hit the train, this cage would contain the bolt. From here, it would route the current outward, away from the train’s interior.
However, the train’s electrical systems may be compromised in the case of a direct lightning strike. Some of the electrical parts, including relay switches, could malfunction. That’s where the train engineers come in. They deal with these issues and failures when they happen.
But, delays might still occur and should still be expected.
After a storm, professional crews will clean the tracks so you can get where you’re going as quickly as possible.
The presence of wind alone seldom creates issues for train travel. It would take extremely strong gusts of wind to move something as massive as a train.
But, that’s exactly what a tornado or strong storm can accomplish. Train delays will most likely happen if these are happening or predicted.
Debris may also be a concern when there is wind. Trains might be put in danger when leaves, branches, or other particles from recent winds build up on the rails. This is a particularly prevalent issue during the autumn season.
Onto our last point, the heat.
Believe it or not, things can get too hot for trains to run normally in the US. How you ask?
Extreme heat causes the rails and overhead wires to expand, so trains must drive slower to maintain a safe working environment.
There is even a risk of rails bending in the heat, but we are talking about very high temperatures of above 131 degrees Fahrenheit.
All of this, I am not trying to scare you off taking a train!
Do Trains Run When It’s Raining? Final Thoughts
Yes, trains do run when it’s raining. But overall, the wet season can cause more delays.
Rain causes wet railways tracks, which lose their friction.
Therefore, trains need to slow down to make up for the braking time.
This can ultimately cause train delays. And in really bad cases, train companies have to cancel trips for the overall safety of passengers.
So, what can you do? It’s always important to give your travel schedule a little wiggle room — rain or