I was killing time on Youtube this snowy Tuesday morning and came across this video of a Norfolk Southern train ascending a hill. The video caught my eye because if you live anywhere near the tracks in Monongahela; you see Norfolk Southern trains every day. At first you can barely see the train through the snowstorm, and it looks like it is hardly moving. As it gets closer, you notice a man out front of it sweeping the tracks to remove the snow. That really caught me by surprise because I always thought a huge train would never have problems with traction. I guess they do! Check out this video, the presenter, Railfan Rowan, is excellent and does a great job making the video interesting. (skip to 10:47 minutes in the video)
Railfan Rowan mentions a something a called a sander. Sanders on locomotives drop sand on the tracks right ahead of the drive wheels to help give the locomotive traction. Here is another video showing how a sander works:
So next time you see a train passing by on a slope during snowy or icy conditions, look closely and you may catch the sanders in action!