THOUSANDS of feet up in the French Alps two JCB Fastrac tractors made in Staffordshire are carrying out vital work to keep a high mountain pass open during the winter.
The JCB Fastrac 4220s rolled off the production line at JCB Landpower in Cheadle. One was fitted with a special blade at the front and a salt sprayer at the rear to make it perfect for its cold weather duties.
Now it is ploughing its way with ease through six feet of compacted snow at the Col du Lautaret – a mountain pass which is more than 6,700 feet above sea level and a regular route of the Tour de France.
The tractor was adapted by customer Villeton, a French company which specialises in snow clearing equipment, in conjunction with JCB France.
The company also undertook a radical adaption of its second machine, reversing the position of the cab so that the engine is behind the driver to give even greater visibility and enabling a snow blower attachment to be installed at the front.
A JCB spokesman said: “Typically, farmers located in the Alps will use JCB Fastracs in the spring and summer for their primary role in agriculture. But in the late autumn and winter, when the weather closes in, they will work for their local communities to carry out snow clearing duties and to keep roads open.
“This makes the Fastrac a machine for all seasons, combining the two roles very effectively.”