So today’s random rolling stock subject is snowploughs. You might have seen Thomas wearing his plough in some episodes as well as Donald and Douglas who are used to keep the lines on Sodor clear.
On Britain’s Railways Snow ploughs are still used in the winter to keep lines clear and are based at various locations around the country ready to be coupled to a locomotive. The ploughs are used in pairs with one or more usually two locomotives in between. In steam days men used to travel inside the ploughs themselves with their spades and shovels ready to clear the line at bigger snow drifts. The way a plough was used was to go to the snow drift where the men would start digging away the snow. They would not remove all the snow, just in sections. They would dig a section, leave a section, dig a section, leave a section and so on. This made it easier for the loco to plough the the drift. Whilst this was going on the ploughs and Locomotives would reverse a set distance and at the agreed moment take a run at the snow drifts so by the time they hit it they were doing a good speed with plenty of momentum to get through the drift.
These days we don’t seem to get such severe winters and many diesel locos carry small ploughs permanently attached to their buffer beams but the bigger independent ploughs are still used when needed.
Attached is a fantastic video showing how ploughs were used in steam days.