NS electrification

Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
atsf sp
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NS electrification

Post by atsf sp » Mon May 25, 2009 6:41 pm

How easy would it be for NS to operate freight trains under electricity? I know they would not do it but if they wanted to run freight electrified on the Keystone Corridor what work would have to be done? Same with locals on the NEC.
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mtuandrew
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Re: NS electrification

Post by mtuandrew » Mon May 25, 2009 10:14 pm

atsf sp wrote:How easy would it be for NS to operate freight trains under electricity? I know they would not do it but if they wanted to run freight electrified on the Keystone Corridor what work would have to be done? Same with locals on the NEC.
Aside from buying new electric freight locomotives, a skill lost for decades in the US, building a shop complex dedicated to their maintenance, retraining personnel for maintenance and operations, restringing wire over those industrial spurs off the NEC and Keystone Corridor (most either were never electrified, or have since been de-wired) and negotiating contracts with Amtrak for the power, quite easy. :wink: Amtrak's E60CHs would have been fine for freight drags but those are long gone, and the AEM-7s and HHP-8s are all busy, so there's no chance of borrowing power.

That's not to say Norfolk Southern couldn't benefit from electrifying the Philadelphia freight bypass and the Old Main Line, along with their high-volume NYC main across Indiana and their ex-Virginian and N&W coal lines, but they wouldn't do so piecemeal.

JackRussell
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Re: NS electrification

Post by JackRussell » Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:24 am

But the flip side to this is that there really isn't any new technology or anything that is needed. Europe runs electrified freight lines, so there is even some operational experience that is at least somewhat relevant.

At the end of the day it is a business decision, and there are both costs and benefits. The OP enumerated many of the costs. The benefits are spending less on diesel fuel (buying electricity instead), but on the other hand the electricity generated from dynamic braking can be pushed back onto the grid via the pantograph. Electric locomotives can accelerate and brake faster which results in increased capacity on a given track, which can be a huge benefit in congested areas.

Ultimately I suspect it will be fuel prices that will motivate railroads to electrify a line.

v8interceptor
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Re: NS electrification

Post by v8interceptor » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:47 am

JackRussell wrote:But the flip side to this is that there really isn't any new technology or anything that is needed. Europe runs electrified freight lines, so there is even some operational experience that is at least somewhat relevant.

At the end of the day it is a business decision, and there are both costs and benefits. The OP enumerated many of the costs. The benefits are spending less on diesel fuel (buying electricity instead), but on the other hand the electricity generated from dynamic braking can be pushed back onto the grid via the pantograph. Electric locomotives can accelerate and brake faster which results in increased capacity on a given track, which can be a huge benefit in congested areas.

Ultimately I suspect it will be fuel prices that will motivate railroads to electrify a line.
The Capital costs in current dollars to electrify significant distances of a line are staggering, even when the spike in diesel fuel is factored in. If you look at the electrification studies done by the railroad industry in the modern era (1970's on) you will find that much of the projections relied on significant Federal funding to justify the costs. It would be very,very difficult for a freight railroad to find the Capitol to complete a major electrification project on its own...

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