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Why are the Train Tracks on Fire?

Answers:1   |   LastAnswerAt:2009.12  

kid s 
Asked at 2009.12.19 08:54:53
I was riding the metra train home late one night at 11:30. From the windows of the train I saw all the rails on the train tracks on fire. I questioned the conductor. He said it was normal. Why does this happen?
answer Wolf Harper  Answered at 2009.12.19 08:54:53
You know the sign that says "Do not flush while in station"? somebody did... Yes, it causes the whole railroad to catch fire...

Seriously, they're burning some wicks against the rail for the purpose of heating up the rail to make it expand (linearly). That's done to fix a rail break. Metal stretches and contracts in hot and cold, and railroad rail is no exception. On a cold day it's meant to be stretched like a guitar string... that's great, but if it breaks in that state, they have to heat it up to let the slack out so they can fix it.

LOL Railfan2006, copying Hoghead's previous answer and posting it AFTER his new answer!
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