• Next Locomotive For the T?

  • 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 Red Wing
 
mbrproductions wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:11 pm Electrics being zero emissions is an illusion because they don't have smoke coming directly out of them like diesels do. In reality the electricity to power electrified railroads is most likely coming from an inefficient power plant, which emits tons of carbon into the air, and thats likely the way its going to be for a long time from now. Diesel-Electrics are in fact cheaper than Electrics, and while yes, the electrics are simpler and easier to maintain, that comes at the cost of now having your entire railroad network more difficult and expensive to maintain thanks to all the catenary poles, wires, substations etc.
Inefficient power plants? As you can see the power breakdown is more environmentally friendly than you might think. This is why many of the T's buses are natural gas instead of diesel: https://www.iso-ne.com/about/key-stats/resource-mix/. It's an investment that's worth it for high density lines and all new construction.
  by mbrproductions
 
Whether or not its a worthy investment depends on many things, one of those things is the cost, both the initial cost and the annual cost of maintaining expensive catenary, can anybody link any numbers on how much the annual cost would be?
  by TurningOfTheWheel
 
Centralizing electricity generation in a power plant is much, much more efficient than having individual diesel electric generators on every train. And even if a sizable proportion of ISO-NE's electricity comes from fossil sources at the moment, there is still benefit to local communities who will no longer be exposed to pollutants (especially exhaust gases and particulate matter) from diesel locomotives. The carbon intensity of New England's grid is also a very fixable problem, especially as more offshore wind projects gain state approval over time.
  by mbrproductions
 
Electric locomotives may be more efficient than diesels and that isn't something I was talking against. what I was mainly referring to is the cost of electrifying and annually maintaining the electrification, which would still be incredibly high no matter where you get the power generation from, and with the alleged 'Fiscal Calamity' the MBTA is headed for, this would be very fiscally irresponsible for them to invest in, considering that the MBTA is in a time where they should be doing everything they can to fix the financial position they're in which is only slated to get worse even without huge investments like this. I use the Commuter Rail and the fumes are barely noticeable most of the time, just like when you walk by a street with gasoline cars going by you, you don't even notice it unless you try to notice it, and as modern diesels release fewer and fewer emissions with each new generation and renewable fuel sources possibly becoming commonplace, this is going to become a smaller and smaller issue as time passes. If electrification was as easy as it is made out to be it would have happened decades ago along with the NSRL, and we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
  by Red Wing
 
No one said electrification would be easy. Also seeing no soot coming out of the stack doesn't mean that the diesel isn't emitting fine particulate matter which increase asthma rates in environmental justice areas aka Gateway cities and many neighborhoods in Boston. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11929741/ As I said earlier the T doesn't have a choice with the laws passed by the Commonwealth.

But back to locomotives. The T in my opinion should get some work engines so they aren't pulling passenger engines for work trains. They should also wait and see what Amtrak and New York area railroads are getting for duel mode locomotives and if they are right for here piggyback on that order to reduce the cost per unit.
  by BandA
 
The MBTA should be ordering the most cost-effective equipment, not trying to solve Global Warming. Heck the Chinese are still building new coal-burning power plants, which supply the power used to build the shells for the Red Line and Orange Line trains.

Both Amtrak and the MBTA, and maybe MN or NJT are interested in high-horsepower locomotives, so they have that in common. Maybe the T needs to look at articulated locomotives to handle the heavy weight! Perhaps diversify so they have 2 or 3 classes of locomotives - lower hp locomotives can be purchased used or potentially converted from freight service, high hp passenger locomotives are expensive specialty orders...

Oh and if everyone is forced into electric cars there won't be any electricity available for the T! Offshore wind is going to be the most expensive, niche source of power.
  by TurningOfTheWheel
 
I'm willing to bet the T's next locomotive purchase will be electric precisely because the Commonwealth has decided that, as a major government organization, they actually do have an imperative to reduce carbon emissions, which includes (1) getting more people out of cars and onto trains and (2) decarbonizing the trains themselves. The sheer fact of the matter is that in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change, we will need to collectively change the way we do things. One of the casualties will have to be fossil fuel–powered vehicles, including rail. I personally think the T will be fine. They can contact the dozens of electrified urban rail systems in Europe which provide high-quality, low-emissions service to millions of people daily if they have any questions.

Your point about electric cars (which are rife with issues in and of themselves) is also misleading, and I'm willing to bet was not entirely serious. Future grid management will likely shift electric car charging to overnight where there is less demand. This sort of "leveling out" of the daily fluctuations in electricity demand is why renewables and nuclear are becoming so attractive; you no longer have to worry about such huge deviations between nighttime baseload and morning/evening peak conditions. (It's more difficult, but not necessarily impossible, to "demand follow" with renewables/nuclear than with a "peaking" gas or oil power plant. The lower the fluctuations, the more you can rely on low-carbon energy sources and storage.)

All of this, of course, is assuming you believe that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed.
mbrproductions wrote: Mon Jan 24, 2022 9:58 am Electric locomotives may be more efficient than diesels and that isn't something I was talking against. what I was mainly referring to is the cost of electrifying and annually maintaining the electrification, which would still be incredibly high no matter where you get the power generation from, and with the alleged 'Fiscal Calamity' the MBTA is headed for, this would be very fiscally irresponsible for them to invest in, considering that the MBTA is in a time where they should be doing everything they can to fix the financial position they're in which is only slated to get worse even without huge investments like this. I use the Commuter Rail and the fumes are barely noticeable most of the time, just like when you walk by a street with gasoline cars going by you, you don't even notice it unless you try to notice it, and as modern diesels release fewer and fewer emissions with each new generation and renewable fuel sources possibly becoming commonplace, this is going to become a smaller and smaller issue as time passes. If electrification was as easy as it is made out to be it would have happened decades ago along with the NSRL, and we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
My comment about efficiency and particulate matter was not addressed to you; my mistake for not quoting in that post to clarify that.

While we're here, the issue with particulate matter is precisely that you cannot see it. PM2.5 particles are less than 2.5 microns wide, which makes them incredibly effective at both getting into your respiratory system and causing problems once they get there. Diesel engines are getting cleaner, yes, but there are still many combustion byproducts that have adverse effects to human health (both from a physiological and climate perspective). As a side note to respond to your example, gasoline-powered cars are a massive source of particulate matter emissions in urban environments, both from combustion byproducts and from tire wear. The tread on your tires doesn't just disappear; it wears out and ends up in the atmosphere.
  by Commuterrail1050
 
The only way I see them electrifying the stoughton route is if they work out something with Amtrak so that there’s a shared responsibility on the cost and maintaining the catenary wires. I know this isn’t directly related to this thread, but it ties into the idea of the what if they buy the electric locomotives like what Amtrak has on the regional trains. Other than that, I don’t see them buying the electric locomotives at all in the near future. I could see them transform the current locos into hybrids, but fully electric, that’s like pulling a needle out of a haystack.
  by CRail
 
Your analogy doesn't make sense. As for Stoughton, if SCR Phase 2 gets built (big if), Stoughton WILL be electrified. Electrification work for MBTA service has already commenced. Track 4 in Attleboro is electrified and track 3 soon will be.

There is absolutely no way a diesel locomotive will be converted to dual mode. Anything electric, dual mode or straight electric, will be built new or purchased second hand as such.
  by BandA
 
What "project" is MBTA electrification of the Providence Line called? I can't find anything pointing to "current" work.
  by Trinnau
 
The MBTA committed to piloting electric service on the Providence line. This dates back to the fall of 2019 when the Rail Vision report was released and the FMCB adopted several resolutions. As CRail notes track 4 at Attleboro was already electrified, and track 3 was not but has the overhead structures already because they span all 4 tracks even thou the wire is only strung over 3 of them. So it's not an extensive project like most other T projects, and the T is probably just paying Amtrak to do it since it's their wire anyway.

A board update from April 2021 indicates this is "progressing", page 9. There were several news articles posted after this meeting you can look for as well.
  by west point
 
Have to disagree. Operating costs of electrification are less than diesel. Granted the installation of CAT does cost and right now the costs of copper wire are out of sight. Loco maintenance is much higher than the electrical components of motors only. Examples of mistakes are the de electrifying of the Milwaukee lines that were supposed to provide much needed salvage that did not appear with higher operating costs of the diesels then happenings.

One of the major cots of electrification are the costs of potholing for CAT poles. Amtrak had a lot of problems New Haven - BOS with unknown utilities and rock. Also, Caltrain had a lot of problems, but they have just finished all the potholing and installation of pole supports.

IMO The Fairmont line is ripe for electrification, That has another advantage that if the regular Back Bay route is blocked Amtrak and MBTA electrics can use the Fairmont line. As well if MTA runs short of Diesels needed for expanded service the Stoughton, Wickford, and Foxboro lines can receive dual mode electric - Diesel locos.

That way MBTA should never have to buy another straight diesel loco. Unless the T has a unexpected failure of a majority of its present diesels.
  by Trinnau
 
Yes it's cheaper to operate/maintain an electric than diesel locomotive. There are fewer moving parts. But it's not a fair comparison, just like it's not fair to compare MMBF between the two.

A true comparison is the cost of operating/maintaining a diesel (shop, parts, etc) plus fuel (diesel) compared to the cost of operating/maintaining an electric (shop, parts, etc) plus fuel (electricity) plus the cost of operating/maintaining the wire. You can't have an electric without the wire, so you need to maintain it. This requires a specialized workforce and different maintenance and parts that are not required with a diesel.

Wire also makes it harder/more expensive to do some "heavier" normal track maintenance, requiring support from ETs and sometimes taking the wire down, which might end up requiring paying for a bus substitution where a diesel could just run by the work zone.

So the only true way to compare O&M costs of an electric vs diesel is to compare their entire railroad O&M costs. While you will pay less in locomotive maintenance, you will pay more elsewhere. Pretty sure it comes out in the wash.
  by mbrproductions
 
Excellent point above, which I have previously stated it as well, while electric locomotives are cheaper than diesels, that now comes with the burden of maintaining your rail network, which is now exceptionally more difficult and expensive, TransitMatters always states that EMUs are cheaper to maintain than Diesel Locomotives (which without further context is true) but never adds that it would make maintaining the whole system more expensive, which likely overrules the savings from making the trains themselves go electric, not sure if its blatant dishonesty or if they expect us to know that already.
As for the Milwaukee Road, its electrification was one of the reasons it went bankruptcy in the first place in 1925. With that in mind, the argument could be made that the electrification itself was a mistake. But the Milwaukee Road was a private entity and the MBTA is not so the comparison doesn't really mean much anyway.
  by west point
 
This argument about costs of electrification needs real figures. CAT maintenance is not that much of a problem for Amtrak New Haven_ Bos and NJT which have a modern 25 kV system. As far a wire work. It has to be divided between the listed new and the old PRR system. The last I heard Amtrak has one wire train on New Haven - BOS but 3 for PRR NEC with another in the budget for the PRR portion.

Yes, PRR portion is replacing a lot of poles that are 90 some years old. But what is NJT replacing on the new portions vs old portions ? As far as trackwork just look at the TLMs that are now out. Ballast cleaning and replacement, new ties, replacement rail any and all functions can be handled with one TLM. CAT failures on the NHV - BOS are very seldom. Contrast that to WASH - PHL with the variable tension. If that is what is cited not a good idea.

Now trees in the wires ares another different metric. Where Amtrak has cleared the ROW to the property lines there has been few trees into thee wires. Other locations not so much. However, it is on a plan to finish in five years. From what I have read MBTA is clearing the south Coast to the property lines. Planting low height plants. Now what is that MBTA distance to property lines will determine future possible wire snags by trees off property