Tokyo Monorail Uses Special "Snow Removal Brushes" to Largely Maintain Service in Heavy Snowfall

Tokyo Monorail Uses Special

Tokyo Monorail train with "snow removal brushes."

Enlarge this image Enlarge this map

Heavy snowfall and strong winds wreaked havoc on Tokyo area transportation on January 14, but the Tokyo Monorail, operated out of its Minato Ward headquarters and connecting Haneda Airport with Hamamatsucho Station, utilized special "snow removal brushes" to maintain fairly regular service.

All that day Tokyo witnessed heavy snowfall and strong winds produced by a configuration of falling air pressure known as a "bomb cyclone." Nearly 700 arrivals and departures were cancelled at Haneda Airport, while rail and other mass transit had their schedules thrown into disarray. Amidst the pandemonium, the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line equipped almost all its vehicles with special snow removal brushes. The 85-centimeter-wide brushes swept snow off the rail, or "beam," as the vehicles moved, thus preventing any major delays along the entire line.

The vehicles are equipped with the brushes by installing them under the coupling on the front of the lead car. They automatically remove snow from the rail ahead as a vehicle in service travels along it. A Tokyo Monorail spokesperson said, "Winds can have a powerful effect on (our straddle-beam) monorail, even though it is elevated, and of course accumulated snow is a problem. Unlike other rail lines, we use unique brushes to remove snow, which are effective against a certain amount of accumulation." While inclement weather affected numerous people, the monorail maintained access to the airport via a snow removal method that is largely unknown among the public.