• 25 kV 60 Hz AC on the entire Northeast Corridor

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Tadman
If bridge clearances need to be adjusted and that might require bridge replacement or serious structural adjustment, why not just put a dead section in for the width of the bridge plus 25' on either side? I seem to remember the New Haven territory already has a few lift bridges with no wire at all.
  by Ken W2KB
"9. Safe Harbor already has 60 Hz generators " It does, but the owner is an independent generating company and sells the 60Hz generation to the highest bidder, which is not necessarily Amtrak.

The phase to ground clearance for a 26kV rigid electric utility conductor is approximately 12 inches. For a flexible conductor it is greater to allow for movement caused by wind, but for the short distances where clearance on the NEC may be an issue, rigid conductors could be used. In sum, only 6 inches of additional clearance would be needed to double the Voltage.
  by west point
No 60 Hz does not require different wire than 25 Hz. The original 25 Hz PRR transformers will not work on 60 Hz. That much as the GG1s are. Do not understand why but that appears to be some technical reason. from the 1980s on Amtrak has bought all electrical equipment that will work on both frequencies. Note Amtrak did that as well for their electric loco motors.
  by Backshophoss
From CP Shell to Just short of CP Gate is part of the MN/NH grid ,that phase break is where you change between 60hz/25hz PRR grid,
West Farms Substation is feed by Con-Ed may have been transferred to Amtrak ET is tied to the MN grid.
When the Hellgate route was built as the NY Connecting RR,a joint NH/PRR project,The NH owned Van Nest generating station was in service ,and the wire reached to Bay Ridge Float yard.
Unknown if there was a inter connect between the PRR/NH grids whhen they were both 11kv,25 hz,
  by D.S. Lewith
west point wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 5:24 pm There are several inaccuracies in the above posts.
1. Correct it is 25 Kv 60 Hz Bos to east of New Haven.
2. MNRR took some 2 weeks to convert from 11 Kv 25 Hz to 12.5 Kv 60 Hz. The New Haven fixed CAT supports do not have clearance for 25 Kv 50 Hz Nominal . Remember the voltage variations are actually + / - 10 %. So 25 Kv actually means 27.5 Kv Max 22.5 Minimum voltages. That 10% applies thru out the whole NEC.
3. Now we near NYP the voltage is 12.0 Kv 25 Hz (not 12.5 ) with max 13.2 Kv. Converted in stages by PRR from 11.0 Kv to 11.5 Kv. . Then Amtrak converted from New Rochelle - WASH in the 1980s from 11.5 to 12.0 Kv. NYP does not have clearances for 25 Kv nominal.
4. Amtrak a few years back converted from New Rochelle to Gate the Hell Gate line from 12.0 Kv 25 Hz to 12.5 Kv 60 Hz. I never found a reason but suspect that it was to eliminate the frequency change at New Rochelle ?
5. PRR and Amtrak did the increase of 25 Hz voltages for the whole system. There are phase breaks on the 25 Hz PRR lines even today. That is because even though it is single phase the power is supplied at 69 Kv one leg and the other leg 180 degrees the other way. That way you get 138 Kv leg to leg. Much like your home with each leg 120 V but 240 V leg to leg.
6. A conversion of somewhere west of the North river portals probably could be started to just before Secaucus station.
7. About clearances: To go to 25 Kv you have to double the clearance from the CAT to train cars. Then have to double the clearance from CAT to anything overhead. .
8. The problem locations I am aware are Newark Penn Station. Maybe Trenton in the tunnel. Unknown if PHL 30th street has enough. The Union tunnel north of Baltimore, Maybe the B & P tunnels. Much of WASH Union station will need to be raised. The tunnel to the first ave tunnel leaving WASH is unknown. This poster thinks any location that does not have plate "H" freight may have low bridge clearance problems and other locations.
9. Safe Harbor already has 60 Hz generators as well as the 25 Hz single phase generators. so that is not a problem. Does it have 25 / 60 HZ frequency converters is unknown ?
10. Conversion can only be done incrementally see #2. This poster would see it start at WASH - Baltimore, Baltimore - Aberdeen., Probably beyond the end of SEPTA to Harrisburg, Then it gets complicated NJT would need to finish converting the Long Beach shore line to short of Perth Amboy,
11. South of Newark ( Port Amboy ? ) to north of Trenton.
12. Secaucus to south of Newark. Allows NJT to access its 60 Hz lines.
13. In the meantime all these conversions will require retirements and changes to frequency converters. Also major wiring , Transformers, CBs, signals, Impedance bonds , etc.
14. Then you have the Septa mess, It has its own converter location at Wayne shops and does not use Safe Harbor except in an emergency lurch. SEPTA still at 11.0 Kv How the Amtrak SEPTA grade crossing is done at North PHL am unaware.
15. Can SEPTA convert to 25 Kv ? Unknown clearances especially Suburban Station ? Leave that for another day.
16. Amtrak could convert its PHL area in no special order . PHL - Wilmington would require SEPYA to convert the airport line. Then the. rest of PHL - Harrisburg, Then PHL - Trenton how to solve North PHL ?

All in all suspect a 20 year project. Now if Amtrak just went to 12.5 Kv 60 Hz would reduce complication but you still have the SEPTA problems. Of course SEPTA and NJT would need dual frequency capable equipment for their EMUs..
The Bergen Tunnels (which uses 25 kV 60 Hz AC) has a very similar clearance gauge to what's seen at Suburban Station and Penn Station (14 feet 6 inches), so converting it to that voltage at so-called "problem locations" and "location that does not have plate "H" freight" wouldn't be as extreme in rebuilding as you say it is. I suspect for NYP they'd have to raise the clearance by 6 inches or so.
About point 10), I picked Washington DC-Wilmington, Delaware and Sunnyside Yards-New Haven as the starting segments as they're largely open air and the number of connecting overhead electric rail lines is near-zero; then Wilmington, Delaware-Waterfront Junction in New Jersey as second due to SEPTA; then Waterfront/Kearny Junction in New Jersey-Sunnyside Yards as last due to New York Penn Station.
  by west point
My understand is that the Amtrak 60 Hz from Shell to Gate is supplied by a substation somewhere in the Bronx ? Didn't Amtrak take a several hour outage on the Hell Gate line last year when the substation went down ? If it later interconnected to MNRR is unknown ?
  by Gilbert B Norman
They most certainly did, Mr. West Point resulting in an employee fatality:


At one time, the New Haven RR had their electric locomotive "shops" located at that site; of course by the end @ 2359hr Dec 31, 1968, the New Haven did not have any heavy repair facilities remaining, contracting out what little they did as the end drew near.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri May 29, 2020 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Tadman
Van Nest was sold in 1959. I think that's a time in between retirement of the prewar motors and acquisition of the Virginian motors.

I wish we had Mr. Weaver's expertise now, but it would be interesting to hear more about this. Was it just a financial decision, or were FL9 and E33 easy to repair in a diesel backshop? Compared to prewar electrics, the E33 is a lot like a diesel, and we all know the FL9 is a diesel.
  by Jeff Smith
Speaking of Catenary: Trains.com Newswire
New York — MTA Penn Station Access — Hell Gate Line Catenary System Replacement (Opportunity Zone)
Up to $30,000,000
NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Replaces 210 catenary structures on the Amtrak-owned Hell Gate Line between Penn Station, New York and New Rochelle, New York. The structures were installed in the 1910s, have exceeded their useful life, and are prone to component failures related to age and fatigue. The project is part of the broader Penn Station Access project that would provide one-seat commuter rail passenger service to Penn Station New York (PSNY) for MTA Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line riders. The Hell Gate Line is used by Amtrak’s NEC services and freight, and the project will increase reliability and resilience of the electrical traction system for the current intercity passenger rail services. Replacing the catenary structures will also reduce risks of future structural failures that would cause passenger delays.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Tadman wrote: Fri May 29, 2020 8:38 am Van Nest was sold in 1959. I think that's a time in between retirement of the prewar motors and acquisition of the Virginian motors
Mr. Dunville, it was simply a case of a railroad liquidating itself to stay alive. The Trustees (1961) figured that a public agency was going to bail out the essential passenger services, and New England was a dying market for freight, so let's just close and sell what we can.

The FL-9's were new and would not need "heavys" for a while, so were the EP-5 electrics. The E-33's came around circa 1966 and in "good repair". Stamford would do what they could with the MU's.

I've had my experience in this life being around railroads cannibalizing themselves. First growing up in Riverside along the NH; then going to work for the MILW. A railroad that could be called a "going concern" was just not part of my DNA until I located along the BNSF.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri May 29, 2020 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by west point
From what I have seen at NYP you cannot raise the CAT enough to clear the train cars and not be too close to the roof of the platforms. With the good lighting there now look for the clearances especially the roof to the east and the 8th avenue subway girders.
  by Backshophoss
West Farms substation was on the grounds of Van Nest, shops and generating station,the closure and sale forced Greens farms the only power plant powering the catenary with low voltage at the extreme ends of the wire.
MN and Conn DOT had started the insulator change out a couple of years before the change to commercial power,along with the replacement of the old triangle cat wire Mt Vernon to Stamford.
The cat poles from CP Shell to Market tower were part of original build to Stamford,NY Connecting RR started at Market headinding south/RRwest to Penn
  by gokeefe
The idea of converting all that infrastructure seems like a tremendous waste to me. Given the ability to accommodate multiple voltages and frequencies on the same platform it is totally absurd to consider this.

This is "yet again" an example of what makes Amtrak special versus the legacy model. They have motive power that can operate in any territory of the Northeast Corridor, whether it's their own or another railroad's.

The real need is for reliability improvements, replacement of the wire towers and more constant tension wire. Voltage and frequency are the least of their problems in electric traction.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  by hxa
MattW wrote: Thu May 28, 2020 9:27 am I don't believe you'd require different transformers. From what I understand, 25Hz transformers can handle 60Hz, but not the other way around.
And that single problem will diminish with the advent of power electronic transformers (PET). Instead of stepping down the power at the very beginning, such transformers will first convert the power (of whatever frequency) to a given audio-frequency before step it down.
German speaking countries use an even lower frequency of 16.7 Hz to supply their locomotives, which traditionally should be equipped with bulky transformers, contributing to 15% of the overall weight. ABB designed a PET and tested it on a SBB loco from 2012, and since yielded very good results. See https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6582541
  by David Benton
Basically a large version of your laptop power supply etc . Notice how there are no heavy transformer type power supplies for D.c appliances any more , they are all switchmode power supplies.
Basically they take the incoming ac voltage ( doesnt really mattery what HZ) and chop it up into really high (like 2.4ghz , so it will interfere with your portable phone or audio(never fiqured out why they do that )), frequency A.c ) rectify it to D.c , chop it up to A.C again and transform it to whatever output voltage is required, rectify it to D.C again if a D.c output required, or regulate the A.c output frequency.
All those steps are still more efficient than a transformer based power supply.