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Delays ahead for VRE passengers

It's hot | Submit photos | Weather haiku | Dr. Gridlock's hot weather tips

Virginia Railway Express passengers can expect some delays tonight as the extreme heat will force trains to slow down during the evening commute.

VRE officials said CSX, which owns the rail used by the Fredericksburg Line trains, has issued heat orders for Thursday. People can expect delays anywhere from seven to 15 minutes this evening, depending on other train movement at the time, VRE Spokesman Mark Roeber said. Norfolk Southern, which owns the rail used by the Manassas Line trains, had not issued any heat restrictions as of noon Thursday, Roeber said.

Trains must slow during extreme heat because the steel rails will expand, VRE officials said. Although this expansion is taken into consideration during the construction period, there are occasions when the expansion can cause a "sun kink," or a shift in the track that causes a curve in an otherwise straight pair of rails.

Rail officials will monitor the tracks throughout the day and if weather conditions change, restrictions could be lifted, VRE officials said.

On Wednesday, VRE experienced numerous delays-some up to an hour- due to heat restrictions and mechanical issues. Roeber said with heat restrictions in place on portions of the track, there was some rail congestion, slowing certain trains. Roeber said a traction motor also broke on Train 333, which forced VRE officials to stop the train and transfer passengers. VRE officials said new locomotives are set to arrive next week, however, which should help curb future maintenance issues.

-- Jennifer Buske

Here are some tips from Dr. Gridlock on beating the heat.

By Michael Bolden  | June 24, 2010; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Commuter Rail, Commuting, Virginia, Virginia Railway Express  
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The delay for Train 333 was actually two hours not "up to one hour" but at least we had air conditioning and conductors who didn't abandon us.

Posted by: tink712 | June 24, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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