Snow clearance trains on the Russian Railways

My visit to Russia was in the middle of winter, so everywhere I went, snow was covering the railway tracks. So how do the Russian Railways keep them clear?

Diesel locomotive 2М62У-0063 kicks up snow while hauling mixed freight

One way they keep the tracks clear is their fleet of «Снегоуборочная машина» – snow clearance trains. The most common type is the «СМ-2» model, which consists of a lead vehicle to clear the tracks, a number of hopper wagons to carry the collected snow, and a locomotive at the rear to push the entire consist along.

Type СМ2гм Снегоуборочная машина (snow clearance train) at work clearing the tracks

Augers and brushes dig down below rail level to clear the snow.

Detail of the collection head removing snow from the tracks

Augers and brushes used to collect snow from the leading end

The operator of the snow clearance train sits in the lead vehicle, controlling the collection head, and raising it over turnouts and level crossings. Collected snow is conveyed to the back of the vehicle via a conveyor belt, which passes over the top of the crew quarters.

Side view of the front vehicle: collection augers and drivers cab, crew quarters, and a big conveyor belt

Once the snow reaches the rear of the lead vehicle, it is dropped off the conveyor belt.

End of the conveyor belt dumping collected snow from the collection vehicle

Where it is collected in the hopper wagons that follow behind.

Middle vehicle in the snow clearance train - just a collection hopper

Each train has a number of hopper wagons following behind, with the collected snow being moved down the train by bottom mounted conveyor belts.

Couplings between vehicles of the snow clearance train

Once the train is full with snow, the rear wagon can be used to unload it trackside.

With the hopper wagons full, the snow clearance train dumps the collected snow

It does this with a pop out conveyor belt at the very end of the train.

Discharge conveyor at the rear of the snow clearance train

This allow the the collected snow to be discharged beside the tracks as the train moves along.

A conveyor belt at the far end of the hopper wagons discharges collected snow

The usual motive power on snow clearance trains are the ubiquitous «ЧМЭ3» (ChME3) class diesel electric locomotives, a 1000 kW unit designed for heavy shunting and seen all over the former-Soviet Union.

Diesel locomotive ЧМЭ3-3986 pushes the snow clearance train from the rear

And the end result – clean tracks, with rails standing proud of the snow.

Cleared tracks after the snow clearance has passed by

Further reading

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1 Response to Snow clearance trains on the Russian Railways

  1. Pingback: Keeping ice off the overhead wires - Euro Gunzel

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