To clear snow from outdoor subway lines during this week's winter storm, the MTA brought out the heavy artillery: A five-car diesel train outfitted with a high-powered snow blower than can launch snow as far as 200 feet from tracks. Using a six-foot cylindrical brush, the train sweeps snow into a metal tube and hurls it out of a chute so it doesn't block the tracks, according to the Daily News. "It's like your household snow blower but a million times bigger," said agency engineer Edward Macina.
During the storm, the diesel snow blower was used to clear the five-mile stretch of the A line between Howard Beach and the Rockaways. Meanwhile, the MTA used 60 work trains to clear the rails and dispense de-icer on the Dyre line in the Bronx and the Sea Beach, Brighton, and Culver lines in Brooklyn, as well as other lines that make up the agency's 220 miles of outdoor subway tracks.
If the agency didn't clear the tracks, snow could have triggered a train's emergency brakes or damaged its engine, while ice on the third rail could have cut power or jammed switches, according to the tabloid. Overnight, MTA NYC Transit parked thousands of subway cars in tunnels to keep them out of the snow, while police dispatched extra officers underground to stop graffiti writers from taking advantage of a moment when parked trains were less secure than usual.