Metra sets tracks on fire to prevent 'pull apart' from frigid temperatures

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CHICAGO — Due to historically frigid temperatures, Chicago’s Metra commuter rail agency is purposely setting the tracks ablaze, reported CityLab.

During extreme cold spells, train operators routinely do this to prevent or repair “pull aparts,” which is what happens when steel tracks are exposed to quick temperature drops and contract in response. Bolts fly, cracks form, and eventually, the rails can separate or break between joints, according to the report.

Due to problems caused by the extreme cold weather, Metra is suspending service on its Metra Electric Line on both Wednesday and Thursday. Except for the cancellation of all service on the Metra Electric, all other Metra lines will be operating on a modified schedule through Thursday, Jan. 31. Riders are also advised that travel times will increase due to speed restrictions that reduce maximum speeds for Metra trains to 60 mph when the temperatures drop lower than 10 below zero.

Amtrak announced it had cancelled all its trains to and from Chicago on Wednesday and most of Thursday.

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