Third Rail Covers

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Third Rail Covers

Postby Mdlbigcat » Sun Sep 12, 2004 11:31 am

Why is the third rail not covered? All of the other systems I rode have the third rail covered. Yours and the CTA does not cover the third rail, why is that?
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Postby jrc520 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 11:33 am

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Postby N.Y. State Of Mind » Sun Sep 12, 2004 12:47 pm

They don't cover it because they would rather spend tha money that could have gone to stuff like covering tha third rail on crap like tha Silver Line and on their their salaries. To make a long story short, it's just not convenient for them. Maybe that Australian dude who got electrocuted at Haymarket would be still alive if tha third rail was covered.
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Postby AEM7AC920 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 1:12 pm

We are talking about the great MBTA.... But it's a good idea to have it covered in certain spots like yard areas just for back up.
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Postby efin98 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 1:30 pm

N.Y. State Of Mind wrote:They don't cover it because they would rather spend tha money that could have gone to stuff like covering tha third rail on crap like tha Silver Line and on their their salaries. To make a long story short, it's just not convenient for them. Maybe that Australian dude who got electrocuted at Haymarket would be still alive if tha third rail was covered.


A few corrections to your rant is due:
For one, the money for third rail covers would probably come out of the maintnence budget rather than the capital budget(like the Silver Lie) or the personnel budget(the salaries).
Also the many who was on the tracks illegally and died from contacting the third rail was from New Zealand- not Austrailia.

Here are the reasons why I believe the covers are not on the lines nowaways: the rapid transit lines are fairly new compared to other cities so they have the benefit of new innovations available when the lines opened. The Orange Line and Braintree Branch of the Red Line have the benefit of third rail heaters and jet snow blowers to protect the yards and lines from sleet and snow build up. The Ashmont line is on an enbankment so snow tends to fall away from the tracks onto the sides of the enbankments and thanks to the "snowshed" like tunnel between Fields Corner and Ashmont the line is covered for that stretch. The Blue Line avoids third rail troubles altogether by converting to overhead wire at Maverick, and due to it being at grade or above for large stretches it avoids buildup on the tracks as the snow is pushed aside to be absorbed by the soggy ground alongside the line.

Protecting maintnence workers is also a somewhat false claim since the maintnence that would bring them into contact with the third rail reguarly over a period longer than the headway of trains would be done ovenright or during a weekend when the line can be totally shut down and depowered. The third rail can also be shut down in segments so that part of the line can be out of service while the other ends are in service(happened as recently as a week ago for example).
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Postby efin98 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 1:38 pm

AEM7AC920 wrote:We are talking about the great MBTA.... But it's a good idea to have it covered in certain spots like yard areas just for back up.


Certain key areas that need to be kept open like yard leads and major yard tracks like the tracks to Cabot from JFK/UMass would benefit from that, but other than that I don't see the benefit.
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Postby StevieC48 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 2:26 pm

Historicaly since its infancy of rapid transit in Boston they did have a side guards by the Third Rail but never fully covered. The reason is because the older equipment on the lines Blue Line:0500 Pullman Standards, Red Line: 0600-0700 Standard Steel Car, Laconia and Osgood Bradley, Orange Line 0900-01000 Osgood Bradley and older work equipment.

Have a straight top running third rail shoe designed by an Engineer from the BERY named Lindall. which is known as a Lindall Third Rail Baem. Most all equipment now have top third rail shoes.The only work equipment that still have a Lindall Shoes is 0579 on the Blue Line.

Hope this helps :wink:
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Postby The Collector at Court St » Sun Sep 12, 2004 6:55 pm

You can't cover the third rail because of the design of the sleet cutter for the third rail. I believe Chicago uses the same basic design.
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Postby CSX Conductor » Sun Sep 12, 2004 8:13 pm

I totally agree with Ed, that kid might still be alive today if he had not gone in the pit to get spare change!!!! his choice to trespass and go anywher near the third rail, with signs posted saying that a 3rd rail with 600volts is in use, was just that, his own choice.......and his choice to go down off the platform cost him his life, not the MBTA leaving the 3rd rail exposed!
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Postby StevieC48 » Sun Sep 12, 2004 10:33 pm

Am I crazy but are we the only unfriendly system where we cant communicate with someone DANGER THIRD RAIL ALIVE.Weather they are foreign or ileterate not all people read or speak the english language. The only way to communicate this to non english speaking person would be to have pictograms. Am I crazy or might this be a good idea for the MBTA to start replacing NO TRESSPASSING THIRD RAIL ALIVE with pictograms, how many US citizens, ileterate people or visiting ailiens would understand the pictogram? This would be an intresting arguement in a court of law. :wink:
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Postby Charliemta » Mon Sep 13, 2004 12:05 am

Good idea. I would retain the "NO TRESSPASSING THIRD RAIL ALIVE" text sign, but also add a graphic sign depicting an electrocution hazard.
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Postby CRail » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:27 am

I dont even see the need to put up more signs, although it wouldnt hurt.

I dont believe the 3rd rail not being covered has been an issue. And even if you cover it people can still die from touching it. There are very few accidental deaths on the system
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Postby jwhite07 » Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:39 am

You can't cover the third rail because of the design of the sleet cutter for the third rail. I believe Chicago uses the same basic design.


Chicago uses a different type of pickup shoe than the MBTA does. As this photo shows, it precludes the use of third rail covers.
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Postby savebowdoin » Sun Sep 19, 2004 10:21 pm

Chicago uses pictogram / text signage to discourage trespassing. It depicts a lightning bolt, etc. while still containing appropriate text warnings. Such signage would definately be helpful here in Boston, though its not something that needs to be rushed into place immediately. Perhaps as stations are modernized new signage like that should be installed, and slowly update the rest of the system.

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Postby bellstbarn » Mon Sep 20, 2004 8:17 pm

This comment may be of limited help. I believe that Chicago and Boston went for side uncovered third rail in the 1890's, somewhat after the New Haven RR had experimented with uncovered third rail down the middle. What I do know from memory is that the Interborough elevated lines in Manhattan and the Bronx used a shoe that came directly down onto the top of uncovered third rail. There was no way that a board could have been placed over the rail without a redesign of the shoe. I guess it was about 1900 that New York became squeamish about uncovered third rail in the new subway and in the Park Avenue tunnels. The Interborough subway's third rail was placed further out from the track so that a rather horizontal shoe could contact it under the board and ride along the top of the rail. The Interborough soon came to places where el cars and subway cars would have to use the same third rail. For those places (as Jerome Avenue above 167 St), the third rail was located as in el service, without a board. The subway shoe was designed to slide along the top of an el third rail (closer to the train) or a subway-style third rail (lower and further away). Therefore, even in the 1940's IRT subway cars had a shoe with a bend in it, with two contact positions, the further being for subway third rail, the nearer for el-type third rail. There were a few places in The Bronx where one could see the transition of a subway train from one type of third rail to the other. Some time after the abandonment of el use of "subway" el structures, as at Jackson Avenue, the third rail was moved a bit further away from the track and covered. Therefore, it was no surprise to me to see (if my memory is correct) top-down shoes in Chicago in the 1960's. It reflected older L technology.
About 1900 the same concern for safety caused the New York Central (and when the Market-Frankford el?) to chose an underrunning third rail.
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