• 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

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  by MBTA3247
 
The substations in Massachusetts do indeed have space set aside for additional transformers in the event of the T electrifying its operations on the NEC.
  by Aerie
 
How does SEPTA regional rail compare with the MBTA's? Their lines are (I think) all electrified. I've watched some You-Tube videos of SEPTA trains, and they seem to move very slowly even with the electrification. Is the track in bad shape? I notice on some of their lines, the stations are VERY closely spaced too (you can almost see the next station from the one you're at). That must slow down the trains a lot. If the electrified MBTA would be like that, then I don't think it would be much worth it.
  by ExCon90
 
The stations are indeed close together--they date from a period in the 19th century when the (now) inner suburbs were already being developed and people walked to and from the station, so many of them are about a mile apart. This means that acceleration and braking are more important than top speed, which favors EMUs. There is also frequent congestion close to the Center City stations; e.g., northbound at 30th St., 6 double-track routes (not counting Cynwyd) converge to 6 main tracks, which narrow to 4 from there through Center City to 16th St. Jct., where Norristown branches off, after which other lines gradually diverge. It would take Swiss precision, which is not part of the culture here, to fold in all the incoming trains while not getting in each other's way. Also, all junctions north of Center City are flat, which doesn't make it any easier. As if that weren't enough, there are posts in the Philadelphia forum indicating that PTC, with cab signals only except at interlockings, has simply dumbed things down to the point that overall speeds are reduced. I should also mention that three of the lines (Thorndale, Trenton, and Wilmington-Newark) are dispatched by Amtrak, as is Chestnut Hill West for a short distance, so there are plenty of obstacles to timekeeping.
  by nomis
 
The acceleration and braking curve on SEPTA’s newest EMUs, the Rotem Silverliner Vs is 3mph/s for both curves. For 48” single level cars, they are the most recently produced and can handle both high and low level platforms. Too bad it won’t work for the T since 1) they’re from Rotem, and 2) that plant closed down and left town down in Philly.

EMUs are what is needed to handle the close station stops that SEPTA has on several of their lines. Even the bastardized 562 installation on the Reading trunkline and ACSES to boot is producing the similar “slowdown” results as other railroads are observing.

Any xMU solution that the T chooses, is sorely needed for throughput for many lines at “capacity” in various ways & many capital improvements (more than adding capacity to substations and wire) are needed to realize the actual potential of any xMU.
  by daybeers
 
The MBTA needs to at least take advantage of the electrification already in place on the NEC, preferably with EMUs of course. I would say they could go with electric locomotives in the meantime but the cost per unit probably wouldn't be worth it. Maybe it could be a combined DMU/EMU order? Either way, they have to move off of diesel eventually, so any work done towards that now saves money and time later.
  by CRail
 
daybeers wrote:Either way, they have to move off of diesel eventually...
Why?
  by watervapr
 
daybeers wrote:The MBTA needs to at least take advantage of the electrification already in place on the NEC, preferably with EMUs of course. I would say they could go with electric locomotives in the meantime but the cost per unit probably wouldn't be worth it. Maybe it could be a combined DMU/EMU order? Either way, they have to move off of diesel eventually, so any work done towards that now saves money and time later.
Some of the lines further out (Greenbush, Franklin) may never need frequency to justify electric service, but Providence/Stoughton, and Worcester to Riverside.. I see as a must-do within the half-century to keep up with peak ridership.

Wiring up out to Riverside and running two EMU trainsets between Auburndale and SS would do wonders for pike traffic (as well as replace a lot of these express buses, saving $$ and fleet elsewhere). Within the pike cut, stringing up should be fairly cheap without any tree-cutting, and could (potentially?) run off the existing Sharon substation. We would need to rebuild the 3 newton stations with two-way full high's, but those are crumbling and will require a refresh anyways. Plus you could run all the diesels express from back bay to wellesley, improving trip times and boosting off-peak ridership.

Setting up a separate maintenance facility for EMU's on two lines would be expensive up front, but MTA/LIRR/NJT all do this..
  by MBTA3247
 
The US deciding to join the rest of the civilized world and moving to phase out fossil fuels by mid-century would be one reason.
  by Bramdeisroberts
 
This. Running passenger trains on diesel is a an anachronistic mistake. Better to electrify them all and save the precious dino juice for long-haul freight and airplanes, where it'll be the 2080s before we have a viable non-fossil replacement.
Last edited by CRail on Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:48 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary quote removed. Do not use the “quote” button in lieu of the REPLY button.
  by apodino
 
One other big reason to electrify. The tunnel near Back Bay station on the NEC has not been properly ventilated since it opened 32 years ago. The air quality in Back Bay Station has been so poor, Amtrak has pulled their employees out of the station and it is not recommended that people with respiratory problems use the station. Millions and millions of dollars in ventilation improvements have not helped the problem, and you can smell the disgusting diesel exhaust on the platform even with no trains in the station.

Going to all electrics on the Needham, Franklin, Stoughton, and Providence lines would completely eliminate all diesel trains from this tunnel. New York City years ago was very forward in their thinking by banning non electrics from the tunnels. Time for the MBTA to do the same.
  by ExCon90
 
A much cheaper solution would be a policy adopted by the Pennsylvania Railroad after the elimination of steam: through trains between New York and the West were advertised in the timetables as having "Smooth Electric Power All The Way." True, the electricity came from different sources east and west of Harrisburg, but that was a mere technicality. :wink:
  by daybeers
 
Yes, the lines need to be electrified, and planning should've started ten years ago, but here we are, so let's start now!
  by BandA
 
What's the payback time for electrification?

One advantage of electrification is you can place a rail yard, or electric locomotive service facility, in the basement of a development such as Beacon Park or Widett Circle.
  by apodino
 
The issue with that article is it is looking exclusively at freight, and freight trains by their nature will consume much more electricity than passenger trains will.
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