• Commuter Rail Electrification

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by CRail
 
TurningOfTheWheel wrote: Fri Jul 08, 2022 2:11 pmThe discussion above is mostly people running in circles yelling that it "doesn't make sense economically" without showing any of the math to back it up in terms of operational costs, maintenance, future avoided carbon taxes, and value added of increased service quality and ridership.

As far as the highways go: fast, frequent, and electrified regional rail is a great way to encourage people out of their cars. The T's current operating practices cannot support the service levels needed to make that happen en masse.
You can't run in circles nor yell in text, and none of the posts were typed out in all caps so that's not even implied. I take issue with such rhetoric suggesting those calling for insane spending for a mere hope of a nice return pretending they're the adults in the room while insinuating that a more methodical approach is childish banter. In fact, quite the opposite is true. You need math to back up massive spending, not the other way around.

Service levels can be improved on the system as it exists, with service being offered based on demand plus perhaps select pilot models experimented with. I don't need to put up a spreadsheet of nonsense numbers to prove running all trains everywhere all the time over insanely expensive infrastructure is not the way to go forward for the Commonwealth, despite whatever special interest group you subscribe to says.
  by ElectricTraction
 
Part of the problem is the premise that electrification is "massive spending". We have a serious problem in the United States with ridiculously overpriced infrastructure, and while I'm not sure that the T can solve the whole problem, measures can and should be taken to control costs somewhat, even if it's to double or triple European costs, instead of the current 7x or more.

The simple fact of the matter is that even the very best diesels in the HSP-46s can't accelerate as fast as electric trains can, and that is what drives the schedule. Few systems in the US today have adequate acceleration for commuter/regional rail operation, as NJT has half the tractive effort they should on push/pull trains, while LIRR has half the electrical power that they should to fully utilize the M-7 cars, and even both of those designs aren't particularly fast off the line compared to similar trains globally.

Where exactly you want to draw the line is surely debatable, maybe you kick the can on the Old Colony Lines, since they aren't involved in NSRL, and after electrifying everything else, re-evaluate or try new technologies that aren't electrification, but there is a clear need for electrification on most of the T commuter rail system, as well as the NSRL. The economic case for dual-modes for extended runs on commuter service is almost always a loser as well, as the cost premium to just electrify everything is relatively small, with huge long-term benefits.

The case is clear for electrification to the current North, South minus Old Colony, Manchester, Fall River, and New Bedford, leaving Hyannis and the Old Colony Lines diesel for the foreseeable future.
  by nomis
 
What would you say an adequate acceleration and deceleration curve look like?

For reference, the Rotem SL-V’s for SEPTA hit their target 3 mph/s on both accords & still able to stretch its legs to 95 mph out of 100mph rated between stations on the “Trenton Line” side of the NEC.
  by Disney Guy
 
Do electric railroads customarily "bring their own juice"? Example: The T having feeders bringing multi thousand kilovolt power through the subway and out the Green Line right of way to the Cook St. substation near Newton Highlands? As opposed to getting the (originally 13.8 KV, maybe more now) powerfrom the nearest Eversource substation in Newton. Or have both sources for redundancy in case of some kinds of power outages? (The 600 volt traction power could (at least back in the 1960's) adequately serve Riverside from Cook St. but would suffer too much voltage drop losses coming all the way from So. Boston.)

If I recall correctly , the D-Riverside line station lighting was powered from the local utility lines.
  by ElectricTraction
 
nomis wrote: Sat Jul 09, 2022 8:02 pmWhat would you say an adequate acceleration and deceleration curve look like?

For reference, the Rotem SL-V’s for SEPTA hit their target 3 mph/s on both accords & still able to stretch its legs to 95 mph out of 100mph rated between stations on the “Trenton Line” side of the NEC.
The LIRR Today wrote about this a while back. 3mph/s, or 4.4ft/s^2 is very good. Modern EMUs should be able to do 4ft/s^2, and many subway/rapid transit lines do. The M-7 cars could do 3ft/s^2 or about 2mph/s if LIRR had enough power to run them at full power, not the 1.5ft/s^2 or 1mph/s that their inadequate power infrastructure can handle.

Top speeds don't really matter much for commuter/regional rail, maintaining track speeds above 80mph usually doesn't help much purely for time, although when running on the NEC, or really anywhere, it would probably make for a smoother ride and less wear and tear, and why not?

I can't get a good measure on how fast the HSP-46s can accelerate, but based on videos, I'd guesstimate it somewhere around 1ft/s^2. It's probably higher once the thing get loaded up, since that takes quite a while of going basically nowhere.

Deceleration should be similar on about anything, although EMUs could go into full regenerative braking, and use their IGBT inverters to brake at 1000 HP/car right down to a dead stop without using their mechanical brakes if they were set up to do so, whereas diesel or electric push/pull has to use mechanical brakes.

It's probably a minor improvement, but I'd think that taking the human engineer out of the equation and programming the trains to run themselves would speed it up a bit, as they could wait until the last calculated second to go into full regen braking. I do have to wonder if Amtrak or any of the commuter agencies have tested automated operations, as ACSES provides all the inputs required to do so, it would just be a matter of writing the software to do so, and allowing the PTC not just to decelerate/brake and notch down, but to accelerate. Full length high level platforms speeds thing up too, as they don't have to get the spotting as exact as when using a single mini-high.
Disney Guy wrote: Sun Jul 10, 2022 10:45 amDo electric railroads customarily "bring their own juice"? Example: The T having feeders bringing multi thousand kilovolt power through the subway and out the Green Line right of way to the Cook St. substation near Newton Highlands? As opposed to getting the (originally 13.8 KV, maybe more now) powerfrom the nearest Eversource substation in Newton. Or have both sources for redundancy in case of some kinds of power outages? (The 600 volt traction power could (at least back in the 1960's) adequately serve Riverside from Cook St. but would suffer too much voltage drop losses coming all the way from So. Boston.)

If I recall correctly , the D-Riverside line station lighting was powered from the local utility lines.
FRA heavy rail is a different animal. The ex-Reading SEPTA system has a central converter to convert from 60hz transmission power to 25hz 11/22kV, while the Amtrak ex-Pennsylvania system has a series of converters to convert 60hz transmission to 138kV 25hz that then has substations to provide traction power. The Amtrak 12.5kV/60, MN 12.5kV/60 and Amtrak 25kV/60 systems all have a series of substations where they are fed at transmission voltage, and they step down to the traction power voltage.

The Amtrak 25kV/60 system's higher voltage and use of 50kV split phase allows it to span fairly long distances between substations, but still provide redundancy in case power is cut to one, those sections can be run through paralleling stations to feed the section from either end. The 25kV/60 system has adequate capacity for the modest CDOT Shore Line East operations that just recently electrified, and was built to be able to be upgraded for the T to operate electric on the Stoughton and Wickford Junction lines.

FRA heavy rail consumes too much power to be fed from distribution voltage*.

*MN did feed part of the New Haven Line from a ~13kV distribution circuit via FrankenTransformer briefly in September 2013 after Backhoe Bob cut power to a critical section of the New Haven Line/NEC between New Rochelle and Stamford while their redundant power feed was also out of service. Through trains had to go into the section fed via FrankenTransformer at a moderate speed, and were able to use it to get through the section at low power, but not accelerate. I can't remember if they had local service accelerate very, very slowly in the section, or if they covered it with limited diesel dual-mode service.

EDIT: All electric railroads built pre-WWII had their own distribution systems and transmission as needed, as there wasn't a power grid in the way we think of it today, or with the necessary power available. Only modern systems like the Amtrak Shore Line or Denver RTD were built based on the availability of transmission-level grid power. The PRR and Reading systems still do their own distribution and transmission (PRR) even though they are mostly fed from commercial power instead of their own generating stations. The MN/Amtrak 12.5kV/60 systems were converted from the New Haven Railroad's coal fired plant at Cos Cob in 1982 to 60hz grid power, and now the ROW above the tracks is leased out to Neversource/UI/whomever for regular power grid transmission lines at 115kV.
  by Commuterrail1050
 
I don’t see any electrification of any lines happening anytime soon. If any of this were to happen soon, they would be telling us all over the news outlets. Until then, it’s all pipe dream stuff. That’s the way I see this and it’s my own opinion.
  by west point
 
Start electrification of the Fairmont line. There are many advantages of the route being first.
1. This will give the most passengers miles per unit of capital costs of any route.
2. That will give the least cost of adding CAT.for what distance is that? Then some CAT will be needed at PVD and from PVD to Wickkford and storage yards PVD , Wickford.
3. Electric load will be greater. The Amtrak portion for electrical supply was designed for upgrading substations or even adding one or more. Wonder if Amtrak might need to upgrade some now de to AX-2s and maybe more trains. The auto transformer system of feeding the CAT makes upgrading easy without disrupting service during transition to additional power sources .
4. Fairmont line will probably need a substation?
5. Fairmont CAT will give Amtrak an alternate route in case of closure of of Back Bay route once crews are certified again on Fairmont.
6. Fairmont electrification will allow MNTA to pospone acquiring any mor diesel locos.
7. If MBTA can get a setup such as the ALC-42Es then dual mode operation of Needham and Frainlin line immediately possible. In fact if Fairmont line was not complete dual mode service would be possible on these 2 routes.
  by mbrproductions
 
Well they just put $50 Million into it:
This doesn't even put a dent on the estimated costs of electrification, the lowest cost estimate at the moment is $800 Million to 1.5 Billion (which is ridiculously low), and the MBTA itself estimates in Rail Vision that it could cost up to $28.9 Billion.
  by ElectricTraction
 
west point wrote: Mon Jul 11, 2022 2:07 pmStart electrification of the Fairmont line. There are many advantages of the route being first.
Assuming that there aren't clearance issues on the Providence Line between Providence and Warwick, doing Fairmont, Providence, and Stoughton lines certainly makes the most sense as a starting point.
5. Fairmont CAT will give Amtrak an alternate route in case of closure of of Back Bay route once crews are certified again on Fairmont.
It's certainly some benefit to have a redundant route, but this shouldn't really be a major selling point, considering that most of the NEC is a single route. I don't see anything specific to Back Bay that makes it more likely to become a failure point.
6. Fairmont electrification will allow MNTA to pospone acquiring any mor diesel locos.
7. If MBTA can get a setup such as the ALC-42Es then dual mode operation of Needham and Frainlin line immediately possible. In fact if Fairmont line was not complete dual mode service would be possible on these 2 routes.
6. Good. They definitely shouldn't buy any MORE.
7. Dual-modes are bespoke solutions for specific lines, and generally are bad practice, especially on regional/commuter rail where you can just electrify the whole thing. If someone could make ones that get better fuel economy than the ALP-45DPs, then Amtrak would have quite a few uses for them for various trains that run off the corridor a bit.
  by BandA
 
ElectricTraction wrote: Thu Jul 07, 2022 6:33 pm [Electrification] makes perfect sense for a plethora of reasons, except maybe on Old Colony Lines (or at least they should be last and take the HSP46 fleet as the other lines are electrified).
Electrification makes little sense for any low volume branches

The problem in this country with infrastructure is that we are so ridiculously bad at doing much of anything. New York is the worst, but it costs 7x as much and takes many times longer than it would even in Western Europe. It's not that hard, railroads all over the world have been electrified.
If the cost of infrastructure in this country IS SEVEN TIMES THE COST OF BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE IN EUROPE, then the correct strategy is to stop building any new infrastructure. Just STOP. Cancel all the projects until the cost is down close to parity! Costs should be cheaper in the US than in Europe, and historically they have been. We cannot afford to pay more for for the same things than our competitors, whether they are catanery poles, copper wires, transformers, healthcare, prescription drugs, or education. We cannot afford to pay more than "developing nations" such as China and India that have been eating us alive economically for the last 30 years.

I believe I read several years ago, and quoted somewhere, that the highway costs for maintenance & construction in MA is four times per highway lane mile in our next door neighbor NH!!! That kind of difference is unsustainable, and presumably bleeds over onto the MBTA costs. Also years ago I read that the MBTA had the second highest operating costs of any transit agency IN THE COUNTRY, with only NY's MTA being higher. Also unsustainable; With operating costs so high, no money is left for capital improvements, which explains a lot of what we see at the MBTA in recent years.
....gasoline cars emit far fewer particulates than diesel anything, especially diesel locomotives, and especially the old screamers.
Tier IV emissions are allegedly 1/10 of Tier III, and about 1% of pre-emissions. Tier IV allegedly brings diesel emission reductions in-line with what we've seen with gasoline motors since 1974. A Tier III diesel-electric locomotive hauling 1000+ passengers is going to have lower emissions than 1000 gasoline cars. But not if it's only 20% full!!
  by ElectricTraction
 
BandA wrote: Tue Jul 12, 2022 2:36 amElectrification makes little sense for any low volume branches
Old Colony is a weird situation, as they would warrant smaller, more frequent trains, yet they can't run them, or run anything like a regional rail system there due to the single track bottleneck, so the Old Colony Lines collectively can only run as old-school commuter rail with low frequency, thus needing larger trains.
If the cost of infrastructure in this country IS SEVEN TIMES THE COST OF BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE IN EUROPE, then the correct strategy is to stop building any new infrastructure. Just STOP. Cancel all the projects until the cost is down close to parity! Costs should be cheaper in the US than in Europe, and historically they have been. We cannot afford to pay more for for the same things than our competitors, whether they are catanery poles, copper wires, transformers, healthcare, prescription drugs, or education. We cannot afford to pay more than "developing nations" such as China and India that have been eating us alive economically for the last 30 years.
True. It's a complex problem to solve.
I believe I read several years ago, and quoted somewhere, that the highway costs for maintenance & construction in MA is four times per highway lane mile in our next door neighbor NH!!! That kind of difference is unsustainable, and presumably bleeds over onto the MBTA costs. Also years ago I read that the MBTA had the second highest operating costs of any transit agency IN THE COUNTRY, with only NY's MTA being higher. Also unsustainable; With operating costs so high, no money is left for capital improvements, which explains a lot of what we see at the MBTA in recent years.
Yup. The only reason MA and the MBTA don't look ridiculous is that the MTA and NYC is so much more ridiculous. By Western European standards, the MBTA is probably pretty awful, and even those NH highway costs probably are too. That does explain why NH has such gorgeous highways though.
Tier IV emissions are allegedly 1/10 of Tier III, and about 1% of pre-emissions. Tier IV allegedly brings diesel emission reductions in-line with what we've seen with gasoline motors since 1974. A Tier III diesel-electric locomotive hauling 1000+ passengers is going to have lower emissions than 1000 gasoline cars. But not if it's only 20% full!!
Interesting. Those Tier IV locos are very clean running.
  by stevefol
 
Network Rail have made a staggeringly bad mess of UK expansion. They have only managed to electrify a third of what they were supposed to in the 2010-2020 timespan, and at more than 3 times the budget. Their plans aren't really discontinuous in the way I proposed - they are merely leaving branch lines unwired.
  by mbrproductions
 
New Article: https://bankerandtradesman.com/baker-se ... er-trains/
Apparently Baker is a bigger fan of Battery Electrification of the Commuter Rail rather than traditional Catenary Electrification, while transit advocates, on the other hand, aren’t so sure about Battery Electrification.
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