Why no electric locomotives?

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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby FRN9 » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:37 am

ohalloranchris wrote:A good, creative thought, but unless the M8's can be built as bi-levels, they would be insufficient. Nearly all of the Providence Rush Hour trains run with seven car bi-level sets now, and are packed.
<<Merge Shore Line East with MBTA Providence line and run M8s from MetroNorth (future purchase). Have them maintained in New Haven. Rhode Island and FedGov pays money to make it happen. No need for a new facility.>>


Quick answer. Run more trains. All trains don't have to be between New Haven and Boston. Most trains could be in the area between Boston and Providence. Seems like there is plenty of capacity. http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/lines/?route=PROVSTOU&direction=O&timing=W&RedisplayTime=Redisplay+Time
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby chrisf » Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:15 pm

FRN9 wrote:Seems like there is plenty of capacity.


Not in South Station.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:13 pm

ohalloranchris wrote:A good, creative thought, but unless the M8's can be built as bi-levels, they would be insufficient. Nearly all of the Providence Rush Hour trains run with seven car bi-level sets now, and are packed.
<<Merge Shore Line East with MBTA Providence line and run M8s from MetroNorth (future purchase). Have them maintained in New Haven. Rhode Island and FedGov pays money to make it happen. No need for a new facility.>>


M8's can't be built as bi-levels. Having to equip them for two overhead AC voltages + the DC 3rd rail requires so much space on the underbody for transformers and other components that it's unlikely any future model could free up enough space to add a second level that would fit within the height constraints of GCT and NYP. And the T wouldn't want to use the fact that it only needs the 25 kV AC power source to dry to radically alter that design into a FrankenM8. The base design is still NYC-centric. They'd be better off ordering something from the Silverliner lineage or starting from something built fresh in a bi-level form factor. Pantograph-only or 3rd rail-only EMU's do have the component space to attempt a bi-level design. Metro North is considering just that for its pending M3 replacement order on the Hudson and Harlem lines. But those bi's would be in the shrunken-height multilevel form factor a la NJT's MLV coaches. The T has unrestricted height and has its bi's in the same Bombardier Bi-level coach -derived dimensions as nearly every other bi-level based commuter rail operator in the country, so their bi-level EMU's wouldn't have to compromise on headroom (the shrunken-multi form factor is a little claustrophobic) or squish all components lower to the ground to fit (the shrunken-multi form factor, at least on NJT, is heavier and not as smooth-riding as the generic-height bi's we use).

Unfortunately this means tagging along on somebody else's order isn't as trivial a matter as just picking up an option order. It would have to be a modified carbody. Which means either NJT's or MNRR's manufacturer has to pitch an EMU model that's effortlessly portable and ready-serve in either the shorter MLV or the taller BLV form factors. Or...they'll be waiting until GO Transit starts electrifying and ordering their probable bi-level EMU's and/or quasi-EMU power cars that can trainline with their humongous existing BLV coach fleet.


At any rate, EMU's are same as electric push-pull locomotives. There's no 'in' today for getting them quickly. The timing is more around 2020 when the next-oldest class of F40's is up for replacement, when RIDOT is rolling out Westerly and increasing the scale of the pool fleet...and hopefully in the ballpark of when other operators pursuing electrification like GO are making their procurements.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby boblothrope » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:43 pm

chrisf wrote:
FRN9 wrote:Seems like there is plenty of capacity.


Not in South Station.


How many trains per track per hour does South Station handle at the peak?

How does this compare with other busy stations around the world?
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby boblothrope » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:48 pm

ohalloranchris wrote:A good, creative thought, but unless the M8's can be built as bi-levels, they would be insufficient. Nearly all of the Providence Rush Hour trains run with seven car bi-level sets now, and are packed.


Bi-levels seat about 180 people. M-8s seat 110.

Replace a 7-bilevel train with a 12-MU train. Problem solved.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby NH2060 » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:59 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:At any rate, EMU's are same as electric push-pull locomotives. There's no 'in' today for getting them quickly. The timing is more around 2020 when the next-oldest class of F40's is up for replacement, when RIDOT is rolling out Westerly and increasing the scale of the pool fleet...and hopefully in the ballpark of when other operators pursuing electrification like GO are making their procurements.

Isn't RIDOT planning their own in-house CR as Westerly-Providence-Woonsocket/Worcester "through running" trains and not separate Westerly-PVD and PVD-Woonsocket/Worcester services? If it's the latter is there really that much of an advantage for them to use electrics vs. a more flexible diesel fleet or even a catenary-diesel locomotive?

I personally don't see the T getting on board with electric locos even after 2020 simply for the lack of fleet flexibility that is provided with a 100% diesel fleet.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

NH2060 wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:At any rate, EMU's are same as electric push-pull locomotives. There's no 'in' today for getting them quickly. The timing is more around 2020 when the next-oldest class of F40's is up for replacement, when RIDOT is rolling out Westerly and increasing the scale of the pool fleet...and hopefully in the ballpark of when other operators pursuing electrification like GO are making their procurements.

Isn't RIDOT planning their own in-house CR as Westerly-Providence-Woonsocket/Worcester "through running" trains and not separate Westerly-PVD and PVD-Woonsocket/Worcester services? If it's the latter is there really that much of an advantage for them to use electrics vs. a more flexible diesel fleet or even a catenary-diesel locomotive?

I personally don't see the T getting on board with electric locos even after 2020 simply for the lack of fleet flexibility that is provided with a 100% diesel fleet.


Rhode Island's CR service plan calls for 3 basic overlapping service patterns:
-- Providence Line per usual, going to T.F. Green (Wickford, etc. TBD on whether they stay on the schedule or get handed off)
-- Westerly (possibly extending +1 north of Providence to turn at Pawtucket)
-- Woonsocket (overlapping south to Wickford or somewhere similar TBD)

...with Pawtucket, Cranston, East Greenwich, and West Davisville being new infill stops on the NEC added one at a time. And Olneyville being a possible later addition if demand merits. The idea is that the in-state services aren't going to have enough demand for super-duper dense individual schedules and that the Providence Line will have to vary up its schedule much like it does today with Providence vs. Wickford runs and not hit every RI stop en route. So they mix-and-match a wider array of service patterns to give those new intermediates right in/outside Providence better coverage. And of course the bleed-through on service patterns from schedule slot to schedule slot can be varied up in almost limitless combinations, so that overlap area can flex and stretch and contract by the hour.


The only service here that must use diesel is Woonsocket; everything else is under wires. And Worcester is years and years in the future. They are concentrating on this rollout because it puts four-fifths of RI's population within 10 miles of a commuter rail station. Regional rail doesn't matter to them until that four-fifths gets its maximum service density. Woonsocket's also the shortest run by-distance and # of stops of the 3 services, with the lightest schedule after full rollout. It's not worth fretting about whither electric or diesel for the smallest share of that overlap, so stationing like 3 diesel push-pull sets at Pawtucket amidst a majority electric yard is trivial. The stuff's on the same slow-churn rotation back to Boston as everything else RIDOT uses in the pool fleet. There's no lack of flexibility here. Chances are when the NEC is at its peak-hour busiest the Woonsocket run is the one that's going to be shortened to stay out of the way of the other bigger users. So slow diesels clogging things up aren't an issue when the only thing that has to be diesel is the weakling of the Providence CR trio. It's not like metro Providence on the NEC is full-speed to begin with with all the sharp curves. They would never ever want to purchase an ALP-45DP for sole sake of Woonsocket...that's an egregious waste of money. 80% electric/20% diesel stationed out of Pawtucket yard on rotation out of Boston does everything they need to.


The T may not be interested in it alone, but they aren't the only purchaser here. If they run all RIDOT commuter rail permutations as the mercenary contractor, RIDOT substantially ups its ownership stake in the equipment pool. Regardless of what they buy in 2020, the loco + coach replacement orders will come with fleet expansion paid for by RIDOT's share and will have a much bigger boost in economy of scale as a result. RIDOT hasn't stated a preference for vehicle type, mainly because this is a gradual rollout. If they take a stand for electrics the T doesn't necessarily have to side with them. But it will be compelled to give it very careful thought. After all, the reimbursement they get for all south-of-border ops doesn't incur them any additional operating cost no matter how thoroughly the T spreads into Rhode Island. And if RIDOT pays up for more pool vehicles in E mode than it would for diesels the T's got a cost/benefits dilemma that is...at minimum...intriguing. Whether they bite on it or not. Also...2020 will be the first time manufacturers offer up vehicles based on the change in FRA crashworthiness regs that they are considering for 2015 to get more off-shelf worldwide designs into the U.S. So the 2020 electrics market isn't predictable based on cost of an ACS-64 behemoth done under the current regs. The price point may be much more attractive.

Either way, using current conditions in 2013 to predict where they're going to bite in 2020 isn't particularly useful. A LOT is going to change in the makeup of the MBTA/RIDOT working relationship and the scale of that relationship over the next decade, and a lot is going to change about the electrics market. All we can say right now is that 2020 is enough of a convergence point of game-changers that they'd be silly not to study it long and hard. They know full well "diesel forever" may not hold up as well after that much rapid change as it does today. So remain uncommittal until the time comes, then see where the chips fall. No sense trying to predict the unpredictable 7 years out. Much like it makes no sense jumping the gun 7 years out scouring for unsustainable secondhand E units or rushing to tack onto an ACS-64 supplemental order several years before they need 'em or have any idea how many units they'll ultimately need. This stuff will work itself out as that huge 2020 loco + coach procurement approaches.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby AEM7AC920 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:37 pm

boblothrope wrote:
ohalloranchris wrote:A good, creative thought, but unless the M8's can be built as bi-levels, they would be insufficient. Nearly all of the Providence Rush Hour trains run with seven car bi-level sets now, and are packed.


Bi-levels seat about 180 people. M-8s seat 110.

Replace a 7-bilevel train with a 12-MU train. Problem solved.


Some or most of the platforms cannot accommodate a 12 car train.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:16 pm

boblothrope wrote:
chrisf wrote:
FRN9 wrote:Seems like there is plenty of capacity.


Not in South Station.


How many trains per track per hour does South Station handle at the peak?

How does this compare with other busy stations around the world?

For a valid comparison you have to consider how many parallel routes are available in the throat and whether movements to and from the yard cause conflicts with train movements, as well as train movements conflicting with each other. I believe that traditionally, South Station tended to keep Old Colony, Shore Line, and Boston & Albany pretty much out of each other's hair; if this can still be done it might not be too bad, but parallel routes in the throat are critical.

Sometime I think in the 70's or early 80's I made a count of scheduled movements at Waterloo and Charing Cross in London (both stub stations). At Waterloo, 22 tracks as I recall (fed by 8 main tracks, mostly independent of each other)handled 59 arrivals and 59 departures between 5.00 and 6.00 pm. At Charing Cross, 6 tracks (fed by 4 main tracks) handled 21 arrivals and 21 departures every hour from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm -- during rush hours the pace picked up a bit. However, much of the equipment in those days was the so-called "slam-door" stock, with lots of doors. The inner-suburban equipment featured compartments the full width of the cars, each compartment having its own door direct to the platform; this made the ratio of passengers to doors 10/1. An arriving train easily emptied in about a minute, or the time needed for 10 passengers to get through one door, with the first one off already holding the door open as the train pulled in, one foot on the running board, ready to -- literally-- hit the ground running before the train came to a stop (I guess commuters are the same everywhere). Not gonna happen today. You need to figure in the time needed to empty and load a multilevel through the available doors.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:03 pm

AEM7AC920 wrote:
boblothrope wrote:
ohalloranchris wrote:A good, creative thought, but unless the M8's can be built as bi-levels, they would be insufficient. Nearly all of the Providence Rush Hour trains run with seven car bi-level sets now, and are packed.


Bi-levels seat about 180 people. M-8s seat 110.

Replace a 7-bilevel train with a 12-MU train. Problem solved.


Some or most of the platforms cannot accommodate a 12 car train.


Amtrak platforms are the only ones that go 1000 ft. T's standard is 800 ft., or 8 cars max. On the NEC Canton Jct. inbound is well short of 800 and needs to be rounded up. But I don't think for all the $$$ it would take that you could ever get every single Providence Line platform to 8-12 cars. Definitely not that Canton platform; you run out of room before the Viaduct to extend it that far.

The whole idea of going bi-level is to pack density for max efficiency. The vast majority of CR operators in the country are either 100% bi-level or operate majority-bi fleets. The T is the only non- height-restricted outlier still running a majority single-level fleet. And that may flip soon.

If they consider EMU's, they'd be well advised to look at buying them in the bi-level form factor. Like Metro North is doing kicking around M3 replacement options so it doesn't have to lengthen its Hudson and Harlem platforms en masse. The only reason there are no North American EMU's in the same BLV form factor as our coaches is because all the EMU operators are height-restricted (including AMT in Montreal). The only one who isn't is Metra Electric, and they use the supertall Hi-level car form factor (i.e. Amtrak Superliner dimensions) that can't fit anywhere on the east coast and a very unorthodox DC overhead voltage that requires fewer in-car transformers than standard AC. They and the South Shore Line are out in their own little world fleet-wise. So it's merely circumstantial that generic BLV-dimension EMU's aren't in use while BLV-dimension coaches are the most widely used on the continent. That doesn't mean they can't be built. If they can be built in the constrained MLV form factor that Metro North and NJT are considering, they can definitely be built BLV size. With nearly as-is components and only minor tweaks in the weight distribution. And if one of those roads does adopt an MLV-size EMU, then the same design is relatively easy to adapt to a more spacious BLV shell and will probably be offered for sale by the usual-suspect manufacturers.

But it's the same thing re: timing. MNRR and NJT haven't placed their orders today. They're actively evaluating (MNRR) or semi-evaluating (NJT). Other operators pursuing electrification or strongly considering it--like Caltrain and GO--haven't made their final purchase decisions. Chances are that GO is going to be the first to place a mass order of BLV-size EMU's because their coach fleet has been 100% BLV for decades and they can't afford to reduce per-train capacity. It's that 2020 convergence point where compatible designs will be in production or offered for production, the new FRA regs could be in effect opening up the market, and some big players like GO may be jumping into the electrification game with good scale. Plus all those local effects like RIDOT and the T's scheduled replacements for the rest of the legacy loco fleet. It'll be interesting to watch how it develops. But it hasn't even begun to take shape yet.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby Jersey_Mike » Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:59 am

DutchRailnut wrote:anyone who believes the old AEM-7's have any live in them is sadly mistaken, its glue/rubberbands and duct tape holding them in service after many million miles.


They would be better off with the ALP-44/44M's from NJT. They are newer than the AEM-7's and as was seen with the AEM's and the Sweedish Rc series they rebuild well.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby AEM7AC920 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:58 pm

And they still have been beat 100 times worse than the AEM's in daily commuter service and have not seen a rebuild program.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby Adirondacker » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:39 pm

NH2060 wrote:I personally don't see the T getting on board with electric locos even after 2020 simply for the lack of fleet flexibility that is provided with a 100% diesel fleet.


Yet AMT does it. And Metra. And NJTransit. And the LIRR, And Metro North. And SLE is going to transition to electric service. Hmmmm.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby NH2060 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:45 pm

Adirondacker wrote:
NH2060 wrote:I personally don't see the T getting on board with electric locos even after 2020 simply for the lack of fleet flexibility that is provided with a 100% diesel fleet.


Yet AMT does it. And Metra. And NJTransit. And the LIRR, And Metro North. And SLE is going to transition to electric service. Hmmmm.

1) AMT's ALP45DPs are dual modes and are being used all over the system. The Repentigny-Mascouche Line will only have 8 round trips per day when service begins so their fleet of 20 dual modes will cover that service in spades and then some.

2) METRA does not own electric locomotives. Furthermore their electric service justifies an independent EMU fleet.

3) NJT's ALP45 units were meant to be used on future "one seat" trips from diesel territory, but they can also be used as either straight diesels or electrics. Furthermore NJT has several routes that are fully electrified, unlike the MBTA which has only 1 line under wire.

4) The LIRR has 22 dual modes with only a handful of trains utilizing them to access NYP. And the number of "one seat rides" is not going to increase any time soon.

5) MNR's dual modes (again, dual modes, not straight electrics) are used almost exclusively on "one seaters" from diesel territory with 1 or 2 making their way onto the Waterbury Branch to sub in for a Brookville. And their use of the third rail is very brief on each run into and out of GCT so their use is more or less as "diesels with a 3rd rail pickup for the first/last 10-15 minutes of each trip".

6) SLE utilizes the NEC for its entire route (including any through service to GCT and any service extension to Westerly) so M-8s are only a logical choice here.

The MBTA's situation is different than all the above. All but 1 of their lines is not electrified therefore making a pure diesel fleet the better choice. Furthermore they do not have the facilities to maintain electric locos or even a location to build one yet. If SCR comes to pass and the electrification mandate still stands then that could be a different story. RIDOTs own commuter rail would be mostly under wire so their preference for electric power isn't unwarranted. In addition the MBTA does not need electrics to access BBY and BOS the way NJT, MNR, and LIRR need dual mode/electric power to access NYP and GCT.
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Re: Why no electric locomotives?

Postby TomNelligan » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:25 pm

NH2060 wrote: In addition the MBTA does not need electrics to access BBY and BOS the way NJT, MNR, and LIRR need dual mode/electric power to access NYP and GCT.


That last point is an important one when comparing the MBTA operation to Montreal, New York, or New Jersey. It is extremely unlikely that either AMT, MN, or NJT would deal with the expense of customized dual-mode locomotives if they didn't need to run through the Mount Royal tunnel into Gare Central, or Grand Central and Penn Station respectively.
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