How does Moscow’s Public Transportation Adapt Itself during Winter?

Every year from October in Moscow, a period of great cold begins. Temperatures can reach an average of -10°C and can vary several times above and below zero during the same day. If you add to this snowfall and the fact that night falls earlier, traffic and transportation can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Careful planning is therefore implemented in anticipation of heavy snowfalls, blizzards and snowstorms. To ensure that the adverse weather conditions are met with the most efficient response, traffic inspectors, municipal employees, the meteorology and transportation departments work in close collaboration to lessen its inconvenience on public transportation.

Preparation in full gear

When the mercury hits very low numbers, snow-laden trees, thick bushes or any debris that could fall on the railway tracks, tram cables, or overhead lines are cut off. In areas where trees don’t grow, specially-designed sturdy ferroconcrete or wooden fences are set up to retain centimeters of snow from causing suburban transit disruption. Drainage systems and train tracks are cleaned from any fallen leaves. Additional workers, who will work with shovels in hand if required, are added up to the snow-clearing team, depending on how severe the snowfalls forecasts are.

Expert technicians thoroughly inspect ventilation and heating systems, doors isolation, windows openings, and gates closures. The snow-removal machinery and equipment go under regular technical revision to comply with the strict regulations regarding the clearing of streets and tracks. Tons of anti-icing chemicals and gravel are carefully piled up in warehouses close-by.

During the early days of October, a set of secondary doors is installed in all metro access halls to shield commuters from directly facing gusts of freezing air when they exit the station. Central heating is switched on and steps leading to train station entrance ways are heated up to prevent frost formation. Furthermore, to maintain comfortable temperatures inside, air streams that are connected to the air-conditioning system and fitted across the doorways, blow out warm air. To keep the train stations floors dry, drains are covered with an iron grid that collects the melted snow. Special attention is given to repairing the hallway roofs for maximum protection against snowstorms, cold wind or rain.

Bus drivers are advised on how to work safely amid harsh conditions with ice fogs resulting in poor visibility especially given the fact that snow tires are not installed on public buses in Moscow. Residents are also requested to move their cars off the streets to allow the City’s street staff to work efficiently.

Coping with the snow

Snowfall is considered at problematic levels for mainline trains at just 5 cm accumulated over a 24-hour period and since it can rise between 10cm to 25cm at once, the street cleaning units are deployed. They work relentlessly to rid main streets from the snow within 24 hours either manually or with the help of snow ploughs. Snow removal cars and trucks scrape out the heaps of snow that are taken to the 200 snow-melting plants around the city. De-icing agents are subsequently sprayed all over to prevent buses from being immobilized by snow build-up.

Some modern buses have double-glazing windows as well as heated floors and thick carpets for the comfort of passengers. In order to keep travelers as warm as possible, ventilation is set to winter mode and powerful heaters are activated.

Metro exits, passenger platforms as well as bus stops are cleared as soon as it starts snowing heavily because it is required by City regulations to remove every 10 centimeters of snow within a 3-days span.

As for the train line zone, normal temperature is maintained to keep passengers warm throughout winter. Most of the trains are equipped with an automatic control system, these units maintain the air temperature between 18°C and 21°C when the outside temperature is down to sub-zero numbers. Pneumatic blasting compressor devices are used to melt away snow on the train tracks and railway switch points are kept heated at all times. Snow ploughs used to clear the railway lines, are adapted to both single tracks and multi-path areas and have brushes that clean the decking crossings as well.

When it comes to electric trams, tram snow ploughs are regularly used on the tracks for any excessive amount of snow. In places where ice can likely form on the overhead contact line systems, a heating technique is activated to counteract the adverse frosting effects and prevent any potentially dangerous short-circuit. Some locomotives are equipped with vibrating pantographs to clear the cables and wires from ice. This means that constructors such as Andrey Bokarev’s Transmashholding – the company who manufactured the trains operated on the Moscow network  – must factor this into their design.

Snow doesn’t stop river transportation either, enclosed and heated boats with ice-breaking equipment carry both residents and tourists across the icy waters.

When winter comes, Muscovites continue to go about their daily routines serenely as public transit services are not at all hindered by the freezing cold. The city’s extensive experience in adapting its infrastructure allows the population to ease through these cold snowy days.

There are no comments

Add yours