The winter eagerly awaited by many finally came and brought with it the joy of snow. Helsinki has its own special group for snow problems: gimmicks.
The not every winter, but whenever there is enough snow.
Then the traffic in the center of Helsinki can get into chaos. Trams derail and cars get stuck in the middle of the highway or block the tram on the tracks.
However, the emergency is not insurmountable.
Then the “gimmick men” of the city of Helsinki, who bear an almost mythical name, are called to help. Officially, the gimmicks are the H 125 clearing unit of the City of Helsinki Transport Department. They know how to help Helsinki out of the traffic chaos caused by the snow.
This knows 32 years of experience “gimmick” Kari Kiiski from the clearing unit.
“So much snow isn’t causing anything yet,” Kiiski says Monday morning of snowfall.
“Now there is still enough parking space. Then when the snow starts to get 25-30 cents, it starts to affect the situation. ”
Such snow cover is promised to Helsinki and the Helsinki metropolitan area in the next couple of days.
It rained deaf on Monday during the day and a real rainbow was expected to arrive in the Helsinki metropolitan area on Monday night. After that, there will be uninterrupted snowfall until the night before Thursday.
Snow accumulates in places up to about 45 centimeters. On average, an accumulation of about 30 centimeters is expected in Helsinki, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Thick the snow layer and the snowstorm have consequences for parking and traffic in Helsinki’s city center. The snow chain often follows a chain of events. Cars are reduced in parking space and parked too close to the rails. This prevents trams from running and, at worst, stops traffic in the rest of the area.
In addition, the snow clogs the tracks and the switches of the track, and the switch cannot turn and in the worst case, the wagon derails. Snow also obscures the tracks from view, which can add tracks to top parking.
Kiisk is familiar with most of the worst accidents in snow chaos.
“Cars may get stuck on the rails and need to be assisted back on the roadway. And then, of course, crashes are easier. ”
Kiiski remember the very hard snow winter two years earlier. Then there was enough work at the clearing unit.
“We then had 450 departures by the end of February. It’s alot. Usually we have a thousand departures a year on both sides. ”
The clearing unit, ie gimmicks, is also called for help when there are problems with tram traffic. The units of the three employees in turn are said to be gimmicks because they have gimmicks.
Kiiski thinks the nickname is perhaps 1960s Peruvian.
“It comes from the fact that we have our own gimmicks that even drivers often don’t know or even know how to do. With these gigs, we get the wagon moving. ”
The most common the task is to move an incorrectly parked car off the tram rails. Another very common disruption of tram traffic is the correction of a technical fault in a tram.
For these tasks, the clearing unit’s alarm vehicle is a powerful four-wheel drive and specially equipped.
The clearing unit has also been asked for official assistance when the truck is stuck in an awkward location.
“It pulls well. It has strength and torque, and it pulls well if you just get a grip on the tires. ”
The clearing unit is able to pull two trams at a time to the depot.
For equipment it also includes “Jesus tape,” but Kiiski says it doesn’t repair trams yet.
“You can use it for something, it’s not used much, but it’s included.”
On Tuesday, Kiiski expects a lively grooming gig. Monday morning was still calm.
The work of all trams includes the maintenance and repair of trams. So clearing gigs are done in addition to the usual work.
They are likely to be expected to an increasing extent on Monday evening and Tuesday as snow cover in the metropolitan area strengthens during the night. Because of the snowstorm, the driving body is warned to be bad today, Monday night and Tuesday.
For many For Helsinki residents, snow is now also a much-anticipated luxury product. It has been seen in recent days on skating rinks, toboggan runs and cross-country ski runs that are filled with people.
Snowfall is expected until Wednesday, especially in the southern part of the country. The Finnish Meteorological Institute describes the snowfall in the early part of the week as “exceptionally abundant”. According to the forecast, snow will rain on the south and southwest coast today by 5 to 15 cents.
In Paloheinä, for example, there were large numbers of skiers on Monday enjoying the winter weather. In Meilahti, the sledding hill was filled with laughing children.