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Polar Vortex Shuts Down Detroit's Q-Line Streetcar

Other polar vortex-related transit news included fire on the tracks in Chicago.
January 31, 2019, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Record-breaking cold Thursday is forcing the QLINE in Detroit to temporarily suspend service," reports Maryann Struman.

The bad news for anyone who still intended getting around on the city's streetcar amidst the polar vortex was created by batteries running the heat at full blast and taking longer to charge because of the frigid temperatures. "Just like cars and cell phones, the QLINE's battery is having trouble holding a charge," according to Struman.

Meanwhile, a day earlier, Chicago's Metra system made news for taking some pretty radical steps to keep the system running in the cold—setting fire to the tracks. Why? Allow Doug Criss to explain:

In some cases the tracks experience what's called "pull-aparts." This kind of rail defect occurs when two rails separate at their connection. The extreme cold shrinks the metal and the rails literally pull apart from each other, Metra said in a recent Instagram post. Heating the tracks with fire expands the metal until the two rails can be put back together again.

Despite the burning train tracks achieving some manner of viral fame on Tuesday, the actions are standard operating procedure, according to Criss.

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Published on Thursday, January 31, 2019 in Detroit Free Press
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