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SkyTrain’s snow plan

SkyTrain’s snow plan

The snowy 29th Avenue SkyTrain station on Dec. 24, 2008. Photo courtesy kind reader Bill Kinkaid!
The snowy 29th Avenue SkyTrain station on Dec. 24, 2008. Photo courtesy kind reader Bill Kinkaid!

In the comments from the first entry of 2009, readers Dan, Sungsu and Coffee Barista were interested in seeing the snow plans from SkyTrain and CMBC.

CMBC is still working on getting us their plan, but SkyTrain has sent along their plan to me already. So here it is!

SkyTrain’s Snow Plan

SkyTrain has developed its Snow Plan for dealing with moderate to heavy snowfalls based on experience gained in past incidents of bad weather, where post incident reviews have identified ways to keep the system operating as reliably as possible.

Each severe weather incident brings a new set of conditions and, as such, the Snow Plan is constantly under review and being refined.

As a result of this ongoing effort, SkyTrain is more resilient now than in the past, when conditions not as severe as those experienced in recent days resulted in a total shut down of the system.

Purpose of the Snow Plan

SkyTrain’s Snow Plan involves preparations that are made when there is a likelihood of significant snowfalls. It also includes specific responses designed to maintain service.

SkyTrain Snow Plan Summary

Alert I – Applicable if unpredicted snowfall occurs in higher elevation locations but is not predicted to continue or accumulate more than 5cm.

  • Objectives for the system are defined…number of trains targeted to be in service and the frequency of service
  • Plans are made to prepare to call out extra staff for station staffing, maintenance, snow clearing, as required

Alert II – Applicable with 12 or more hours notice of snow or frozen rain

  • Snow clearing equipment and de-icing materials are checked and replenished
  • Additional staff are called in
  • De-icing trains are prepared
  • Snow removal staff are placed on notice

Stage 1 – Applicable upon forecast of continued snowfall with accumulations greater than 5cm, within 12 hours

  • A Snow Manager, is identified a the senior contact responsible for service level authorization and to ensure timely and effective Snow Plan activities are implemented
  • Track switch heaters are activated
  • De-icing trains are operated as necessary
  • Additional staff are called in to support operations and maintenance activities
  • Snow Clearing equipment is pre-positioned as required

Stage 2 – Applicable when snow begins to accumulate

  • If necessary, track intrusion detection systems are disabled and attendants are positioned at platform level in the station or, onboard trains in the front end
  • Snow Clearing activities commence
  • Maintenance staff are positioned in critical locations for faster response to issues
  • Snow Trains are prepared for overnight running to keep tracks clear
  • Fewer, but longer trains may be operated depending on extent of snow
  • De-icing activities continue as needed

Stage 3 – Applicable when operational difficulties continuously affect normal operations

  • Longer trains are operated
  • Service levels adjusted as necessary
  • Additional maintenance staff are positioned throughout the system
  • Trains may be stored in tunnels overnight to keep them warm and snow-free
  • Snow Trains continue to run
  • SkyTrain Attendants now ride each train in service to monitor the tracks and, if necessary, to drive the train manually.
  • Technical staff is available 24 hours a day to attend to any problems

Stage 4 – Applicable when extensive operational difficulties prevent the safe operation of service

  • Snowfalls and accumulations that are so severe that passenger or system safety is compromised will result in suspending all operations until conditions improve.