How does New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority clear its train tracks? Twelve-year olds with shovels just aren’t as efficient as the MTA’s specialized snow removal locomotives:
Over the summer, the railroad’s three jet-powered snow blowers were completely rebuilt. Each received a new Cummins diesel engine (for traveling over the rail) and a new, high-efficiency, Rolls Royce Viper aircraft turbine engine for melting snow. The engines produce exhaust that’s 600 degrees Fahrenheit, which virtually vaporizes snow.
“If the jets do the job right, all you see is steam coming off the steel,” said Peter Hall, Foreman of the Maintenance of Way Equipment Shop in North White Plains. “They produce 2,500 pounds of thrust, which makes them very good at getting under heavy, wet slush, ice and crusty snow.”
The Rolls Royce turbines use half the fuel of the engines they replace, 1950s-era General Electric/Westinghouse J57 turbines that were used in B-52 bombers. The Vipers burn about 100 gallons of kerosene per hour at 70% capacity – the optimal level for fuel efficiency.
“With fuel tanks that hold 1,800 gallons, these new jet blowers can run continuously without having to stop to refuel in the middle of a storm,” Hall said.