As riders of SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line know all too well, service really can suffer when it snows.
Due to its uncovered tracks on higher ground in Delaware and Montgomery Counties, the line is particularly susceptible to drifting, SEPTA says. Accumulations of eight inches or more impede the trains and can cover the tracks and electrified third rail, sometimes forcing the agency to suspend service.
But that should change now. On Wednesday, SEPTA unveiled a $1.5 million, rail-maintenance track vehicle that also operates as a plow.
“In my 30-year career at the authority, there have been several storms that have forced us to shut down the Norristown High Speed Line for days at a time,” SEPTA general manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel said in a statement. "We’ve had a need for equipment that will remove snow quickly and efficiently so that we can resume service as soon as possible.”
Besides a plow, the track vehicle is equipped with air compressors that can clear snow from switches and the electrified third rail, SEPTA said.
When not clearing snow, the crane-equipped Prime Mover, as the track vehicle is called, can be used for delivering and picking up materials for work and maintenance projects; towing rail vehicles; replacing and repairing rails and ties; and providing supply for hydraulic, pneumatic, welding, and electric tools, SEPTA says.