Pssst…..Some One Please Tell TransLink Subways Get Dirty

Zwei was not kidding about the issue of cleaning subway lines.

Due to the nature of train action in a subway, the piston like force of air that is in front of every train as it traverses the tunnel, creates a sandblasting effect on the electrics and signalling.

Then, the oily dirt and debris coming from the passengers themselves has now formed a dangerous coating on the electrical supply over time.

This combination may cause fires and fires in a subway tend to be extremely dangerous.

Many subway systems like London’s Tube, operate vacuum trains on  a regular basis to help control dirt.

This adds to the already expensive nature of operating a subway and in Toronto Canada, the estimated cost to operate just 7 km of subway line is $40 million annually!

I wonder if TransLink is up to speed on the problems and costs of operating a subway?

Somehow I think not.

Hairy situation: DC’s rail system may be taken down by human shedding

The fuzzy coating from riders’ heads could cause electrical sparks and fires.

 

 The DC Metro, when it’s not on fire.

For residents of our nation’s capital, news of a fire on the city’s rapid transit system—the Washington Metro—is not surprising. It catches fire and smokes quite regularly. At some points last year, there were reports of more than four fires per week (although there’s some dispute about that rate). There’s even the handy site—IsMetroOnFire.com—to check the current blaze status.

Yet, despite the common occurrence, residents may be surprised to learn a potential contributor to the system-wide sizzling: their own hair.

According to a safety specialist with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), a thick, felt-like layer of human hair, skin, and other debris has collected on the aging tracks of the city’s rails. In particular, hair has built up on insulators supporting the transit system’s electrified third rails, which run cables carrying 750 Volts of electricity to power the trains. The hair coating delivers a real threat of electrical sparks and fire.

It's also not on fire here.

 It’s also not on fire here.

“I was flabbergasted” at the amount of hair in the Metro, ATU specialist Brian Sherlock told a local NBC news station. “The amount of debris is just beyond vulgar to think of.”Arcing and smoking insulators is a problem that has dogged Metro for years. In 2015, an arcing insulator was linked to a smoke incident that left one passenger dead and more than 80 others sickened by thick smog.

“A lot of the issues with the insulators is actually fiber and hair that literally comes off of people and clothing, and gets sucked up” and into the tunnels, Paul Wiedefeld, general manager of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, told NBC News.

However gross, the collection of hair from riders may not be that surprising. The system provided 97 million rides in 2016. A single healthy person sheds anywhere from 10 to 200 hairs per day. But those with health issues or hair loss can shed far more. Stress—a common problem around DC—can also up the head shedding.

In addition to hair, riders also let loose dead skin cells as they commute on the rails. A healthy person sheds about a thousand skin cells per centimeter squared of skin every hour. That works out to about 500 million cells a day. And each one of us sheds our entire outer layer of skin every two to four weeks.

Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel told NBC that Metro is working to boost track cleaning considering the hairy situation.

 

 

Comments

2 Responses to “Pssst…..Some One Please Tell TransLink Subways Get Dirty”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Toronto’s subway tunnel washing train has a vacuum and scoop system for large and fine debris. Then a signal and tunnel maintenance train follows. Next human cleaners and maintenance staff look for any problems that the trains couldn’t clean or fix.

    Zwei replies: TransLink has not even thought of this.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Actually, I should have been more clear about the point was really trying to make. Just to “wash” the tunnel by essentially rinsing the tunnel then, blowing the really stuck garbage free, then suck up the garbage left behind and then have people pick up the rest followed by a state of good repair inspection of the tunnel, track and signalling equipment is time consuming as well as expensive. Don’t get me wrong, its absolutely needed but it is an activity that must be planned and choreographed well in advance of the actual date. Experienced crews at the TTC just make it look routine.

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