Commuter Rail Electrification

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

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Nasadowsk
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by Nasadowsk » Sun May 05, 2019 9:01 pm

BandA wrote:Can't have a bi-level with 4 doors accessible from high-level platforms, which is what is being built for all newer platforms in the northeast.

Also bi-levels increase the dwell time, and going up and down stairs is a pain in the bottom.
Caltrain's KISS160s will have four doors on each side. NJT's multilevels do, too.

The problem is that when you make these compromises, you don't get wide enough doors.

The French get close enough, if you insist on bilevels:

http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/fr/pri ... 24-150.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

But you're stuck with one level boarding (high).

(Ok, the RER stock has only 3 doors on each side...)

The problem: 120-140 km/h top speed, which is too low. This might not be a technical consideration (the RER never goes that fast, with such tight station spacing) but a practical one. Certainly Stadler and Siemens have built bilevels with 160km/h capability.

NJT's multilevel power car reminds me of the Swiss single level power cars that they recently put out of their misery. I was on one on the Zurich S Bahn back in '10, and once the novelty wore off, they sucked (hot, noisy, crap ride)

djlong
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by djlong » Mon May 06, 2019 9:48 am

I can't remember where I heard it, but a LONG time ago, some article said that it wasn't cost-effective to 'go electric' on a rail line until there were at least 10 trips a day on it.

I'm sorry, but any article that says diesel vs electric is a wash has NO credibility with me. New powerplants are increasingly being built harnessing renewables since an 80% drop in the price of solar panels and HUGE efficiency gains in wind turbines.

I own a Tesla Model 3. There are between 10,000 and 20,000 parts that do NOT exist in my car, compared to one powered by an internal combustion engine. That's THOUSANDS fewer parts to break, wear out or just be inefficient.

In addition, electric rates are FAR more stable than diesel prices.

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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by CRail » Mon May 06, 2019 6:38 pm

The costs associated with electrification are not applicable to your Tesla. The cost is in the supporting infrastructure, not the vehicles. Maintaining that infrastructure is expensive, but building it is monumental. I'm not an opponent of it, and I believe phasing it in is worthwhile particularly on the south side where they have a bit of a head start. Providence, Stoughton, and the Dorchester Branch are all no brainers. Then Franklin and Needham are each low hanging fruit. Worcester and the Old Colony would be massive undertakings. A blanket electrification of all lines is simply impractical.
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BandA
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by BandA » Tue May 07, 2019 2:22 am

Bramdeisroberts wrote:That's why it might make sense to electrify the south side 1st and go forward from there, simply because there's more redevelopable property like Widett and Beacon south of the Charles than there is north of it.

The easy way to do it would be to purchase a mix of dual-modes and bilevel EMUs, using the bilevel EMUs on the Fairmount, Providence, Needham, and Stoughton lines (and maybe the Worcester line out to Riverside or Framingham) while electrifying only out to 128 or so, running dual-mode hauled consists on the outer portions of the south side lines with the changeover happening at Braintree for the OC lines, Readville for the Franklin line, and Riverside or Framingham for the Worcester line. With a modest rollout like that, MassDOT could damn near pay for it in full from the cash for redevelopment rights at Beacon Park and South Bay alone.
The MBTA only owns a fraction of Beacon Park - enough for a good sized layover yard, but not a huge payday. What do they own in South Bay? They could use electric switchers to maneuver the portion of the fleet that are diesels in a basement yard.

Don't get involved with dual-modes unless it is really necessary, or improved cheaper models become available. If a line is partially electrified, run the short-turn trains as electric, and run the longer-distance trains as diesel. EMU's are more available than DMU's, so probably the diesel fleet needs to stay push-pull and the electric fleet can be either/or both.
At least with dual-modes, it'd only be a matter of replacing the F40/GP40 fleet with an ALP-45DP order (or whatever Charger/ACS-64 hybrid Siemens bids) of about the same size as the HSP-46 order, while the EMU fleet could be piggybacked on to whatever NJT is buying and be pushed out to replace either the remaining single levels and oldest K-cars on the roster, or the Brokems,...
If they stay with push-pull, I think there is a need for two sizes of power - able to pull 8-Kawasaki/Brokem bilevels at high-speed, and another type to pull shorter trainsets at slower speeds or acceleration. These can be rebuilt locomotives.

The T doesn't need the short MLV coaches that fit inside Penn Station. Only order what NJT does if the price is compelling.

jonnhrr
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by jonnhrr » Thu May 09, 2019 11:20 am

CRail wrote:The costs associated with electrification are not applicable to your Tesla. The cost is in the supporting infrastructure, not the vehicles. Maintaining that infrastructure is expensive, but building it is monumental. I'm not an opponent of it, and I believe phasing it in is worthwhile particularly on the south side where they have a bit of a head start. Providence, Stoughton, and the Dorchester Branch are all no brainers. Then Franklin and Needham are each low hanging fruit. Worcester and the Old Colony would be massive undertakings. A blanket electrification of all lines is simply impractical.
This makes sense to me and is probably an easier sell. Electrify Stoughton which allows all the 800 and 900 series trains to be electric, then Dorchester Branch which benefits the Fairmount service which is ideally more of a rapid transit service anyway. Then electrify to Franklin. I might hold off on the Needham branch given the possibility of its conversion to an Orange Line extension. Lastly Worcester at least as far as Framingham to start. Old Colony would be a harder sell given the more infrequent service level. Plus you might have NIMBY issues with the electrification infrastructure (remember Hingham and the tunnel).

Northside might be a tougher sell as there is no obvious first candidates comparable to Providence/Stoughton. Maybe pick whichever is the highest frequency service (Haverhill? Reading?). Plus perhaps the Eastern route as far as Beverly to start.
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Adams_Umass_Boston
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by Adams_Umass_Boston » Sun Dec 08, 2019 6:56 pm

Caught this thread over at Amtrak and then saw a video on facebook.

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=160801&start=735

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pce7X6G ... e=youtu.be

There are rumors these could be for the MBTA.

chrisf
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by chrisf » Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:26 pm

There's been zero discussion by the MBTA's FMCB about the possibility of leasing old Amtrak power for an electrification test. The chances of the MBTA borrowing these without that happening are effectively zero.
If MBTA were to lease these, the first time one of these 40 year old AEM7s breaks down, the backlash would be tremendous.

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Adams_Umass_Boston
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by Adams_Umass_Boston » Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:35 pm

No, I think there were discussion of this back in August. I try to attend the public meetings.

https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transp ... om-amtrak/

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BandA
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by BandA » Sun Dec 08, 2019 8:02 pm

So if these are now owned by a non-Amtrak company, perhaps they will lease-to-own them to the MBTA, perhaps giving the "T" a good deal for a pilot project. 40 years old, fully depreciated, right? And the "T" is desperate for more locomotives & coaches, (especially coaches,) but this might free up some of the diesel locomotives to be "protect" units or spares. For a pilot project, you don't upgrade the substations & see what happens when you add 1 train, then 2 trains, etc. Routine service would have to be done mostly on the south side at Amtrak's facility unless the vendor sets up a pop-up shop for turnkey repairs.

Diverging Route
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by Diverging Route » Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:26 am

chrisf wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:26 pm
There's been zero discussion by the MBTA's FMCB about the possibility of leasing old Amtrak power for an electrification test. The chances of the MBTA borrowing these without that happening are effectively zero.
If MBTA were to lease these, the first time one of these 40 year old AEM7s breaks down, the backlash would be tremendous.
This would be within the context of the FMCB's approval of RAILVISION back in October. I understand Amtrak is planning to span wire over tracks 3 and 4 at Attleboro, which would be required for electric service to Wickford. Using the electric engines as a pilot would be an easy first step.

charlesriverbranch
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by charlesriverbranch » Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:19 pm

CRail wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 6:38 pm
The costs associated with electrification are not applicable to your Tesla. The cost is in the supporting infrastructure, not the vehicles. Maintaining that infrastructure is expensive, but building it is monumental.
But if a battery-powered car such as a Tesla is practical, then surely a battery-powered EMU is practical. Why build all that catenary infrastructure?

caduceus
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by caduceus » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:50 pm

charlesriverbranch wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:19 pm
But if a battery-powered car such as a Tesla is practical, then surely a battery-powered EMU is practical. Why build all that catenary infrastructure?
Moving a railcar requires just a bit more power than a passenger car. It would require MUCH more battery power, which comes with its own weight, which adds to the power necessary to move it.

It can also take hours to fully charge a Tesla, and you can only practically provide so much power to charge, so unless you are OK for a single rail car to make a couple runs and then need to charge for half a day, I don't think they're practical yet.

You could try swapping out battery packs, but that would be labor intensive. There were some tests with buses, but don't think much came of it.
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BandA
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by BandA » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:55 am

What "shocks" me about electrification, a (light rail) electrification project that took the MTA 1 year in 1958 ("D" branch) would take ten or more years today (GLX). Same order of magnitude problems seems to apply to time and costs of all of their projects.

ConstanceR46
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by ConstanceR46 » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:48 am

I think the thing is to move that many passenger cars at speed you need a Big Battery - and a big locomotive that accelerates like *.

CTRailfan
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Re: Commuter Rail Electrification

Post by CTRailfan » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:55 pm

Electrifying parts of the MBTA, especially the Providence Line is a no-brainer and should have been done 20 years ago. Generally, if you have the density to require a lot of 5+ car diesel trains, you should electrify. Lines that have less ridership would generally be well served by 4-car or shorter DMU sets, but there are some cases where an outlying line uses up mainline slots, so a large diesel push-pull set makes sense, like if you want to go from Montauk to Penn during rush hour. Otherwise diesel push-pull generally doesn't make sense. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is the North-South rail link, which would basically require full electrification of the system, otherwise it would leave diesel lines behind or having to transfer for the last mile or two of their trip.

Dual-mode locomotives generally don't make sense for commuter rail. Commuter lines should generally just be electrified, since it's basically a small, captive system. Where overhead dual-modes would make sense is Amtrak, as it would open up all sorts of possibilities for new and existing services shooting off from the NEC without an engine change to Virginia Beach, Newport News, Atlantic City, Long Island, Cape Cod, Springfield, Inland NEC, etc, etc. For the MBTA, dual-mode would be the wrong way to go, they should just electrify the whole thing.

There are some battery-electric designs being tried, but it doesn't make any sense for commuter rail, the vehicles would weigh too much and cost too much. Pure battery locomotives would only make sense as local yard switchers, where they sit around a lot and have a relatively limited range, but need high torque. In most road switcher applications, a hybrid genset with multiple genset engines and a battery-hybrid design would probably make the most sense, but for road locomotives, the numbers just don't work well. There are some proposals for battery tenders on freight locomotives, but the problem with freight is that they tend to go up the mountain and down the mountain, requiring a massive amount of storage for the gain, unlike hybrid cars that are great in stop-and-go traffic.

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