trains will stop when millennium arives : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread,290,1495062,00.html? Many trains will pause as millennium arrives

-- lurker (, December 14, 1999


WASHINGTON--Major freight railroads and the Amtrak passenger service said yesterday they will temporarily halt operations just before midnight this New Year's Eve as a precaution against Year 2000 computer problems.

Although millions of dollars have been spent on avoiding the computer glitch, the railroads and many city subway systems rely on outside supplies of electricity and telecommunications and have decided to take no chances.

"We are going to take a short pause to take everything down and bring it up and make sure it all functions," said Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Richard Russack.

In the nation's capital, where thousands of revelers are expected to use the Metro to come downtown for "America's Millennium Gala," the trains will stop at stations with their doors open for about 10 minutes starting five minutes before midnight, a spokeswoman said.

The Chicago Transit Authority plans a similar exercise just in case of problems relating to the old programming habit of allocation two digits for the year in dates. "It's just a precaution," said a spokesman.

Delays on the national passenger railroad, Amtrak, may last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour on some routes through less-populated portions of the United States, a spokesman said.

"We will stop at the biggest station along each route so that if, God forbid, anything goes wrong, we can get those people off if necessary," Amtrak spokesman John Wolf said.

Although Amtrak maintains its own tracks in parts of the Northeast, it is mostly reliant on right of way agreements with freight railroads such as Burlington Northern, Union Pacific Corp, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Freight traffic is traditionally light or absent on any New Year's Eve, so the pause around midnight is not expected to be terribly disruptive to freight operations.

"We run very little business over the New Year's holiday anyway so we give most our employees the time off," said Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley.

Norfolk Southern issued advice to customers yesterday that it would begin suspending operations on the afternoon of Dec. 31 and restart operations beginning with selected trains early on Jan. 1. Normal operation will resume Jan. 2.

CSX spokesman Robert Gould said the company will coordinate a brief stoppage of about 19 Amtrak trains through its system near midnight on Dec. 31. Freight operations will be unaffected.

Story Copyright ) 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

-- lurker (, December 15, 1999.

This thread reminded me of the effect a power outage would have on switch heaters. These are resistance cables mounted along the web of switch rails in regions where snow and ice are normal in winter. Heating the switch points keeps snow and ice from accumulating between them. Without heaters, a buildup of ice or packed snow between the switch points can block their movement when the switch is thrown. Not all switches are heated -- usually only in high traffic situations. If the power goes out any switch jammed this way will have to be cleared by hand. At best this will slow traffic. At worst an accident may result.

-- Tom Carey (, December 15, 1999.

Electric switch heaters, Tom? All the ones I've ever seen are propane burners. Makes me envious evey time I drive by and see those one or two thousand gallon tanks.


-- Wildweasel (, December 15, 1999.

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