How deep do flood waters have to be before freight trains stop using them?

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I live in Missouri and, as everybody knows, we have a lot of flooding going on. We also have a lot of freight trains that cross through our state. There’s one in particular that runs along the Mississippi River that seems to be flooded over quite often. So I wondered… How deep do flood waters have to be before freight trains stop using them?

  1. Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 2:14 am

    They don’t usually let us operate over submerged track.If they do they have to inspect the track first to make sure it’s safe.If the water is over the top of the rail we are restricted to 5 mph.If the water is over 3 inches above the top of the rail we have to be authorized by a mechanical department supervisor before we can use the track.Water and the high voltage and amperage in the traction motors don’t mix well.If they get wet they short out and cause what’s called a ground relay.Then we’re dead in the water(no pun intended).

  2. Reply
    Karl J
    July 21, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Not that deep. As a rule*, as soon as the tracks are submerged the operating speed goes down… way down to 5mph or less. Once the water rises three inches above the top of the rail, it’s goodnight, Irene.

    *As a rule meaning individual railroads may apply more restrictions for their territories various conditions and locations.

    Added… Oops, didn’t see Andy had replied… I yield to the Gentleman from Omaha…
    I’ve never been dead in the water, but I have been held up by storm caused fallen trees a couple of times.

  3. Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Andy’s answer is right, it can vary a bit by railroad.
    For instance in our air brake and train handling book it says if the water is more than 2 1/2 inches above the rail we are not allowed to proceed.

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