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US railroad electrification

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Posted by David1005 on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 4:33 AM

If the railroads are looking for equipment heights at around 21 feet, The clearance for electrification would be around 29 feet. That is a major obstacle. All the signal systems would have to be replaced as the locomotives would need to use the running rails for the ground return.  There is the question of where would a reliable source of power come from.  And the big one, where would the money come from to pay for all of this. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 7:05 AM

I have repeatedly noted my belief in battery-hybrid dual-mode-lite as a progressive solution to 'electrification'.  Whether the 'engine' part is diesel, biodiesel for zero-net-carbon, or blue hydrogen with sequestration for zero-carbon ought to be more or less 'tech agnostic' with respect to the form of the electrification; the key (as the Garrett engineers noted in the '70s) was to size and operate the trains as if they were limited by the onboard power, rather than go straight to 6000hp 'straight electrics' that require continuous access to high-voltage current with good short-term draw regardless of traffic.

The Chinese developed a perfectly good "potholing" solution suitable for HSR construction.  I'm quite certain we could develop at least as good a solution once the 'political will' is there to implement OHLE "rollout" (first on severe grades and as 'recharge points' for dual-mode) but the issue here is demonstrated feasibility.

Meanwhile, the Indians happily operate full electrification with ridiculous overhead clearance (think clearance required for 25kV with doublestacks on skeleton flats!) and it looks every bit as ridiculous as you'd think it would, but it seems to be operable.  Yes, there are better prospective solutions that involve dual-mode-lite, but again there's proof in the real world how the trick can be done.

I note with no particular surprise (and more than usual quiet disappointment) that the Next Big Thing of battery/hydrogen light rail trains is being quietly abandoned (apparently in favor of battery trains with distributed recharge points).  Remains to be seen whether the North American version of the fuel supply system can be made to work any better.  But do NOT expect that straight hydrogen fuel-cell locomotives as replacements for diesel-electric units are going to be much of a successful development...

We're coming up on two decades of the nonsensical idea that PTC should be an overlay on legacy signal systems.  Europeans have had very effective signal systems that work with 25/50kV since at least the days of TVM, and if there has to be a 'walking rollout' of compliant PTC as punctate electrification proceeds, it should be implemented (without a lot of consultant BS and wrangling about it) in parallel, to an appropriate standard.

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Posted by PJS1 on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 9:10 PM

David1005
 And the big one, where would the money come from to pay for all of this. 

This is a critical question.  For a nation with a federal government debt of more than $33.8 trillion, as well as gobs of state and local government debt, where will the money come from?  

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 9:41 PM

PJS1
This is a critical question.  For a nation with a federal government debt of more than $33.8 trillion, as well as gobs of state and local government debt, where will the money come from?  

Someone will have to make a convincing case for the investors that electrification will pay back, in spades.  Barring that, or a healthy infusion of taxpayer money, it's not going to happen.

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Posted by Gramp on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 9:48 PM

Brother, can you spare me a dime?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 10:25 PM

tree68
 
PJS1
This is a critical question.  For a nation with a federal government debt of more than $33.8 trillion, as well as gobs of state and local government debt, where will the money come from?   

Someone will have to make a convincing case for the investors that electrification will pay back, in spades.  Barring that, or a healthy infusion of taxpayer money, it's not going to happen.

Let us also face the fact that the PRR segment of electrification on the NEC was done for the most part with federal money.  FDR investing in the country to get it moving out of the Depression

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 7:07 AM

BaltACD
Let us also face the fact that the PRR segment of electrification on the NEC was done for the most part with federal money.  FDR investing in the country to get it moving out of the Depression

If I'm not mistaken, the funds concerned were from the RFC (which was a Hoover-era program) and were in the nominal form of loans that PRR subsequently repaid.

I don't know if NYC repaid their RFC loans for the 'pump priming' construction of the J3as, but someone who is a New York Central fan or historian will know.  I don't think Staufer said definitively in Thoroughbreds, but will check when I have time.

The financing for catenary need be no more complicated that Government guarantees of construction loans, to keep rates controlled and necessary tranches available, and setasides from taxes.  To the extent the cat and wayside power are part of a larger 'energy strategy' -- as they certainly should be -- alternative capital and maintenance funding should be involved on some fair pro-rata basis.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 8:26 AM

In the original article in Forbes the areas of highest percentage of electrification seem to be the countries with government-owned railroads.

It would be interesting to find out how the various countries power the catenary.

If there is a financial case for electrification it will happen.

Those India double-stack trains with drover vans or whatever they are called there (cabooses) on the end are impressive, albeit still shorter than the typical US train.

However they do double up with a mid train locomotive and drovers van on some. They look to use 5-packs of flat cars.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yNq8lP6cfL4&pp=ygUnaW5kaWFuIHJhaWx3YXlzIGRvdWJsZSBzdGFjayBjb250YWluZXIg

 

 

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Posted by MJ4562 on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:23 AM

I would argue that taxpayer funding spent on rail electrification would be a better investment than subsidizing personal vehicles.  Never going to happen though for various political reasons. Plus we really can't afford it anyway. 

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:42 AM

A problem with the "how in the world are we going to pay for this?" argument is it assumes we're currently paying nothing and this is an entirely new expense. How much do railroads currently pay each year for diesel fuel? The fuel costs are paid from the rates they charge companies for moving their goods (and the companies pass the cost to the consumer), and I assume using fuel costs as an expense giving them a tax break, meaning they pay less tax (so we pay more). Ultimetly we all pay for it.

It is likely, once the infrastructure was in place, that using electricity (which could be generated by solar power, wind power, etc.) would be much cheaper per year than diesels. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 12:19 PM

The other issue that is not being addressed is where will the electricity formerly generated by locomotives come from once the catenary is strung.  The existing power grid cannot handle the additional load from railroads.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 12:51 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
The existing power grid cannot handle the additional load from railroads.

Especially not when you include EVs - there are already grid capacity issues with charging them.

Every power source has its foes.  Some people hate hydroelectric (gotta get rid of those darned dams), some hate wind turbines (unsightly, kill birds), some hate solar (for taking up what could be productive farm land), some hate nuclear (OMG! Chernobyl!), some hate the various fossil fuels.  

Power source issues notwithstanding, money to build will be the issue.  The railroads do use substantial amounts of fuel, which would theoretically be replaced by electricity.

Even setting aside construction, what's the ROI for going with electricity?  Social issues are not part of the discussion.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 4:51 PM

It's the ROI that traditionally kills these. All the big studies for electrication of busy mainlines through the years have shown that they're financially viable. But the rate is too slow and spread over too many years.

When they can get a better return elsewhere, their limited capital is going to go somewhere else rather than towards electrication.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 6:40 PM

I believe Mike Iden has the best solution.

https://www.railwayage.com/mechanical/locomotives/follow-the-megawatt-hours-hydrogen-fuel-cells-batteries-and-electric-propulsion/

Battery tenders for the "gaps".

Electrify the heavy mainlines.  Let hybrids, fuel cell, bio-diesel handle the rest.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 6:46 PM

Leo_Ames

It's the ROI that traditionally kills these. All the big studies for electrication of busy mainlines through the years have shown that they're financially viable. But the rate is too slow and spread over too many years.

When they can get a better return elsewhere, their limited capital is going to go somewhere else rather than towards electrication.

 

RRs are flush with cash - all that low OR PSR generated cash flow.

Electrification can be a winner on heavy main lines.

https://blerfblog.blogspot.com/2023/04/i-built-train-performance-calculator.html

I crunched some numbers....

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 7:10 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

The other issue that is not being addressed is where will the electricity formerly generated by locomotives come from once the catenary is strung.  The existing power grid cannot handle the additional load from railroads.

 

https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/flow/total_energy_2022.pdf

RRs used 0.05 quadrillion BTUs 

Electrical generation consumed 33 quadrillion BTUs 

I don't think anyone would even notice if RRs electrified....

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 8:55 PM

wjstix
... It is likely, once the infrastructure was in place, that using electricity (which could be generated by solar power, wind power, etc.) would be much cheaper per year than diesels. 

It's not all gravy once the electrification is built.  The NEC was built around a century ago, and needs tens of billion$ just to bring it to a state of good repair.

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Posted by Gramp on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 10:14 PM

wjstix

...How much do railroads currently pay each year for diesel fuel? The fuel costs are paid from the rates they charge companies for moving their goods (and the companies pass the cost to the consumer), and I assume using fuel costs as an expense giving them a tax break, meaning they pay less tax (so we pay more). Ultimetly we all pay for it... 

 

??? Huh?  I would hope that legitimate costs are being  accounted for against sales revenue to arrive at true taxable income. Otherwise gonna fall down, go booom. 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 11:04 PM

tree68

 

 
PJS1
This is a critical question.  For a nation with a federal government debt of more than $33.8 trillion, as well as gobs of state and local government debt, where will the money come from?  

 

Someone will have to make a convincing case for the investors that electrification will pay back, in spades.  Barring that, or a healthy infusion of taxpayer money, it's not going to happen.

 

The government is good at unfunded mandates.  PTC anyone?

Although I haven't been following it closely, California is supposed to be trying to force all locomotives to be zero emissions by 2030 or 2035 depending on type of service.  Some shortlines are worried that they won't be able to afford the technology, that really isn't there yet.  Some expect that they would have to shut down.

Just force it nation wide, which isn't above the realm of possibility, and it almost forces electrification.  At least for heavily trafficed lines.  It might lead to abandonment of lesser trafficed lines.  The railroads might think the expense is not justified.

Jeff

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Posted by Euclid on Thursday, November 30, 2023 11:00 AM

jeffhergert

 

 
tree68

 

 
PJS1
This is a critical question.  For a nation with a federal government debt of more than $33.8 trillion, as well as gobs of state and local government debt, where will the money come from?  

 

Someone will have to make a convincing case for the investors that electrification will pay back, in spades.  Barring that, or a healthy infusion of taxpayer money, it's not going to happen.

 

 

 

The government is good at unfunded mandates.  PTC anyone?

Although I haven't been following it closely, California is supposed to be trying to force all locomotives to be zero emissions by 2030 or 2035 depending on type of service.  Some shortlines are worried that they won't be able to afford the technology, that really isn't there yet.  Some expect that they would have to shut down.

Just force it nation wide, which isn't above the realm of possibility, and it almost forces electrification.  At least for heavily trafficed lines.  It might lead to abandonment of lesser trafficed lines.  The railroads might think the expense is not justified.

Jeff

 

That is the one and only way I could see railroad electrification happening.  It would come with the premise that it did not have to be profitable or even cost effective in the normal railroad business sense.  It would be cost effective in the objective of saving the planet.  Not only are there no limits to the value of that cost, but we have also arrived at the point of there been no limits on public spending.  Electrification by Regulation.
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Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, November 30, 2023 1:43 PM

I don't believe that clearance issues in tunnels and through-truss bridges are much of an obstacle.  The real problem is cost, which several of you have already mentioned.

I distinctly remember hearing as a kid that Southern Pacific was studying the electrification of their Sunset Line from West Colton to Indio in the 1960s and if that turned out to be successful, possibly extending it eastward all the way to El Paso.  I also think that they also looked at electrifying Donner Pass.

However, in both cases, they decided against it.  Why?  Almost surely due to cost.

Today, battery powered freight locomotives for long distances are still in the experimental phase and might or might not pan out.  In some cases, catenary might make more sense.

For some reason that I have never quite been able to fully grasp and digest, other countries found a way to electrify, but not the U.S.

I suspect that unless the Greens have their way and mandate something, Diesels will probably continue to rule American rails for some time to come except in yards or for short distances where batteries would be far more practical.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 30, 2023 2:15 PM

Fred M Cain
I don't believe that clearance issues in tunnels and through-truss bridges are much of an obstacle.  The real problem is cost, which several of you have already mentioned.

I distinctly remember hearing as a kid that Southern Pacific was studying the electrification of their Sunset Line from West Colton to Indio in the 1960s and if that turned out to be successful, possibly extending it eastward all the way to El Paso.  I also think that they also looked at electrifying Donner Pass.

However, in both cases, they decided against it.  Why?  Almost surely due to cost.

Today, battery powered freight locomotives for long distances are still in the experimental phase and might or might not pan out.  In some cases, catenary might make more sense.

For some reason that I have never quite been able to fully grasp and digest, other countries found a way to electrify, but not the U.S.

I suspect that unless the Greens have their way and mandate something, Diesels will probably continue to rule American rails for some time to come except in yards or for short distances where batteries would be far more practical.

Other (nominally European & Japanese) countries had to rebuild much of their rail infrastructure from the ground up after WW II.  The rebuilds were done as governmental projects, not private business projects.  Governments and debt are different than private companies and debt.  Governments can withstand the debt necessary to finance electrification as a matter of public interest.

In the US, while the railroads had to be rebuilt after WW II it was not the same task as in Europe and Japan.  The US railroads were the victims of deferred maintenance during the war.  The physical plant and equipment had been run hard and put away wet to carry the wartime traffic demands.  While the railroads were profitable during the war, they were not a profitable as possible because of the 'discounted rates' that governmental traffic moved over.

During the remainder of the 40's the US roads tried to play catch-up on their maintenance only to find a declining level of traffic needed to finance the maintenance catch-up programs.  Nowhere in this landscape did the Federal Government step in and offer the capital necessary to bring about electrification.

The countries whose railroads are predominately electrified are that way because of the desires and investments of their governments.

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, November 30, 2023 2:38 PM

Interest on government's debt as rates go up will swamp all programs.  Electrification would be a nonstarter.  I think we're in the danger zone of not being able to right the ship. Very bad outcome if we have a crash.  Will not be pretty. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, November 30, 2023 6:47 PM

A TV news story tonight showed a test of an in-pavement (induction) charging grid being installed in a Detroit street.  There are similar tests going on in several other countries.  If the government finances any transportation electrification, it will be for autos, and not trains.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, December 1, 2023 12:32 AM

Fred M Cain

I don't believe that clearance issues in tunnels and through-truss bridges are much of an obstacle.  The real problem is cost, which several of you have already mentioned.

For the 1991-92 study on electrifying the freight RR's in SoCal, half of the total projected cost was in providing adequate clearance for the 50kV catenary.

During my GE years, GE was working (but I wasn't) on the hybrid diesel-electric locomotive, which prompted two ideas on my part. One was that the hybrid would have been useful for long tunnels as the prime mover could be throttled back to reduce exhaust gases and heat from engine cooling. The other was to put batteries on electric locomotives to power through non-electrified trackage (as done by the CNS&M), where such trackage could include areas where clearances were insufficient for catenary.

I also think battery technology has progressed to where a hybrid commuter locomotive (or hybrid DMU's) would make a lot of sense. Part of it would be recovering energy that would be otherwise lost in braking, but the other effectively doubling or tripling the output of the prime mover in acceleration and be able ro spend moore time at track speed between stops.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Friday, December 1, 2023 6:42 AM

BaltACD

 

 
Fred M Cain
I don't believe that clearance issues in tunnels and through-truss bridges are much of an obstacle.  The real problem is cost, which several of you have already mentioned.

I distinctly remember hearing as a kid that Southern Pacific was studying the electrification of their Sunset Line from West Colton to Indio in the 1960s and if that turned out to be successful, possibly extending it eastward all the way to El Paso.  I also think that they also looked at electrifying Donner Pass.

However, in both cases, they decided against it.  Why?  Almost surely due to cost.

Today, battery powered freight locomotives for long distances are still in the experimental phase and might or might not pan out.  In some cases, catenary might make more sense.

For some reason that I have never quite been able to fully grasp and digest, other countries found a way to electrify, but not the U.S.

I suspect that unless the Greens have their way and mandate something, Diesels will probably continue to rule American rails for some time to come except in yards or for short distances where batteries would be far more practical.

 

Other (nominally European & Japanese) countries had to rebuild much of their rail infrastructure from the ground up after WW II.  The rebuilds were done as governmental projects, not private business projects.  Governments and debt are different than private companies and debt.  Governments can withstand the debt necessary to finance electrification as a matter of public interest.

In the US, while the railroads had to be rebuilt after WW II it was not the same task as in Europe and Japan.  The US railroads were the victims of deferred maintenance during the war.  The physical plant and equipment had been run hard and put away wet to carry the wartime traffic demands.  While the railroads were profitable during the war, they were not a profitable as possible because of the 'discounted rates' that governmental traffic moved over.

During the remainder of the 40's the US roads tried to play catch-up on their maintenance only to find a declining level of traffic needed to finance the maintenance catch-up programs.  Nowhere in this landscape did the Federal Government step in and offer the capital necessary to bring about electrification.

The countries whose railroads are predominately electrified are that way because of the desires and investments of their governments.

 

And their government's choice of the baseload generation necessary to provide reliable power for all that electrification of the government-owned railroad.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, December 1, 2023 1:46 PM

MidlandMike

 

 It's not all gravy once the electrification is built.  The NEC was built around a century ago, and needs tens of billion$ just to bring it to a state of good repair. 

Have you checked what all that money is about?  Maybe $1 - 2B for all the CAT work.  All the rest is ROW, Sawtooth bridge Dock bridge. bridges including the Maryland and Connecticut bridges.  Undercutting the whole track to remove bad sub grade, stations, & Etc. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, December 1, 2023 2:39 PM

In the USA electrification will not go forward without mass quantities of Federal Government 'seed' money, lots and lots of seed money.

The ROI on electrification is not sufficient to attract private capital investment in the project.

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, December 1, 2023 2:57 PM

BaltACD

In the USA electrification will not go forward without mass quantities of Federal Government 'seed' money, lots and lots of seed money.

The ROI on electrification is not sufficient to attract private capital investment in the project.

 

What will make it even more expensive is that the .gov couldn't just help one railroad.  If they helped NS, they'd have to do the same for CSX.  If the money goes to UP, BNSF will demand an equal amount.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, December 1, 2023 5:06 PM

IMO some of our posters are making a mountain out of a mole hill concerning low clearances.  If a lower clearance is a problem just lower the voltage thru the low clearance area(s).  The use of tap changing transformers is well known.  Later models of tap changers are automatic such as Acelas, Sprinters, AEMs with some older units such as E-60s, EMUs & etc either automatic or manual.

So, 25 kV is not required everywhere.  Can be  12.5, 6.25, 3.12 or some other voltasge.  The AAR would need to desiginate whatever voltages.  Read somewhere that some location in Europe uses ~3 kV in a constrained location.  Even CSX's Virginia Ave tunnel will be able to use some lower voltage.

Another method would be to operate all trains thru a low clearance area to have an electric motor in front and one at rear of train operating in DPU.  Just run CAT as an isolated dead section under low clearances allowing unpowered units to coast thru dead section with other unit(s) providing traction for train movement.   

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, December 1, 2023 9:06 PM

blue streak 1

 

 
MidlandMike

 

 It's not all gravy once the electrification is built.  The NEC was built around a century ago, and needs tens of billion$ just to bring it to a state of good repair. 

 

 

Have you checked what all that money is about?  Maybe $1 - 2B for all the CAT work.  All the rest is ROW, Sawtooth bridge Dock bridge. bridges including the Maryland and Connecticut bridges.  Undercutting the whole track to remove bad sub grade, stations, & Etc. 

 

I would love to see the numbers, can you provide them?  If the cat work is only an inconsequencial amount, then why are you always reporting on cat problems on the NEC?

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, December 1, 2023 10:54 PM

MidlandMike

 I would love to see the numbers, can you provide them?  If the cat work is only an inconsequencial amount, then why are you always reporting on cat problems on the NEC?

 

 
Because it is an outdated type of construction.
1.  Steel poles directly into the ground slowly rusting away.
2.  The PRR method of hanging all track's CAT wire on one single line between opposite sides of tracks.  That is if one CAT wire is snagged as many as 4 CATwires on all 4 tracks come down.  Just takes longer to fix.
3.  Variable tension CAT that sags in summer and may get very tight in winter.
4.  Until now congress has not allocated a line item to replace PRR CAT with constant tension CAT.  Just look at how there is very few CAT problems on New Haven - BOS.  Also for that matter how often NJ Transit has a problem with their new CAT.
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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, December 2, 2023 8:11 AM

Just a reminder for those who say to use DP and have some of the power "coast" while going through a tunnel. Many tunnels are used to get rid of the top of a grade so it really wouldn't work to cut off the power of some of the locomotives.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 2, 2023 9:25 AM

Backshop
Many tunnels are used to get rid of the top of a grade so it really wouldn't work to cut off the power of some of the locomotives.

Not to mention the fun when the train is stopped on the grade approaching the tunnel, and the DP has to start the train without benefit of draft-gear slack.

The point about varying catenary voltage with overhead clearance ignores the increased current (and hence various I2R losses) inherent in using a lower voltage in traction applications.  A much better use would be in conjunction with battery dual-mode-lite hybrid power, where 'every little bit' of charging power could be helpful without compromising the performance of the train through 'restricted clearance' areas.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, December 2, 2023 8:50 PM

blue streak 1
Because it is an outdated type of construction. 1.  Steel poles directly into the ground slowly rusting away. ...

The photo I see of a standard PRR cat section shows the poles (I-beams) on a cement foundation, although I can't tell if they are bolted to the foundation, or sunk into the cement.  I know the PRR cat is basically obsolete, but my point is that if congress does not fund replacement of their own problem plagued cat, then what is the likelyhood of them funding widespread freight line electrification.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, December 3, 2023 9:53 AM

The logical solution is low-voltage same  AC 60Hz frequebcr 3rd rail just though the restricted-clearance area and possibly 500 feet overlap transition lengrth each side.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, December 3, 2023 10:04 AM

If memory is  correct, each concrete base was port with steel set into the top that looked like a flat bplate, but pobably had "feet" extendibg into the concrete, and the line poles were bolted to attachments intagral with each plate. Should be a drawing somewhere.

Pretty much the same PRR and NYNH&H.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Sunday, December 3, 2023 11:14 AM

daveklepper

The logical solution is low-voltage same  AC 60Hz frequebcr 3rd rail just though the restricted-clearance area and possibly 500 feet overlap transition lengrth each side.

One issue with 60Hz and 3rd rail is that the 60Hz impedance of rails is at least 6 times higher than the DC resistance. One option is copying BART with aluminum bonded to the sides of the 3rd rail. The other option is using DC on the 3rd rail and using a DC-DC converter for converting 3rd rail potential to the DC-link potential of the traction inverters. This converter would be smaller and lighter than the transformer.

Batteries have the advantage of providing power though spots where the catenary may be out of service due to maintenance and also though areas where it is not economical to electrify. Battery technology has come a long ways from when the CNS&M, DL&W and the NYC were using electric locomotives with batteries. I would also think the LFP batteries would be a better fit than Li-ion.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 3, 2023 12:02 PM

The 'correct' solution for track-level electrical contact is going to be 'smart third rail' (which is basically an upgrade of the old GE idea of having contacts raised and actuated as a shoe under the locomotive contacts them).  There are in particular some Japanese and Italian versions that have near-continuous contacts embedded in a polymer structure, actuated electronically.  As Eric notes, these are best implemented with DC / running-rail return, but the transversion from AC can be done nearly at each point of contact.  I would of course argue for ~1500VDC fed via suitable equipment to the DC-Link of connected dual-mode-lite hybrid consists.  (Adding the necessary 'connectivity' to one of Iden's "tenders" would not be technically difficult either...)

There are few reasons, though, not to build the bulk of the electrification as overhead constant-tension line with the usual wear-reducing lateral sinusoid pulloff, and keep any return-current arrangements in the rails compliant with that.  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, December 3, 2023 1:10 PM

Overmod

The 'correct' solution for track-level electrical contact is going to be 'smart third rail' (which is basically an upgrade of the old GE idea of having contacts raised and actuated as a shoe under the locomotive contacts them).  There are in particular some Japanese and Italian versions that have near-continuous contacts embedded in a polymer structure, actuated electronically.  As Eric notes, these are best implemented with DC / running-rail return, but the transversion from AC can be done nearly at each point of contact.  I would of course argue for ~1500VDC fed via suitable equipment to the DC-Link of connected dual-mode-lite hybrid consists.  (Adding the necessary 'connectivity' to one of Iden's "tenders" would not be technically difficult either...)

There are few reasons, though, not to build the bulk of the electrification as overhead constant-tension line with the usual wear-reducing lateral sinusoid pulloff, and keep any return-current arrangements in the rails compliant with that.  

I think both overhead wires and third rails do not have much of a future and sooner or later someone will cross the threshold with a self contained powerplant that will replace the diesel and will be as cheap or cheaper to run and maintain.

Wabtec and it's hybrid Diesel is getting closer but it still has emissions.

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Posted by Euclid on Sunday, December 3, 2023 2:54 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
Overmod

The 'correct' solution for track-level electrical contact is going to be 'smart third rail' (which is basically an upgrade of the old GE idea of having contacts raised and actuated as a shoe under the locomotive contacts them).  There are in particular some Japanese and Italian versions that have near-continuous contacts embedded in a polymer structure, actuated electronically.  As Eric notes, these are best implemented with DC / running-rail return, but the transversion from AC can be done nearly at each point of contact.  I would of course argue for ~1500VDC fed via suitable equipment to the DC-Link of connected dual-mode-lite hybrid consists.  (Adding the necessary 'connectivity' to one of Iden's "tenders" would not be technically difficult either...)

There are few reasons, though, not to build the bulk of the electrification as overhead constant-tension line with the usual wear-reducing lateral sinusoid pulloff, and keep any return-current arrangements in the rails compliant with that.  

 

I think both overhead wires and third rails do not have much of a future and sooner or later someone will cross the threshold with a self contained powerplant that will replace the diesel and will be as cheap or cheaper to run and maintain.

Wabtec and it's hybrid Diesel is getting closer but it still has emissions.

 


 
What do you mean by, “Self-contained power plant” ?
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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 3, 2023 3:16 PM

The 'correct' solution for track-level electrical contact is going to be 'smart third rail' (which is basically an upgrade of the old GE idea of having contacts raised and actuated as a shoe under the locomotive contacts them).  There are in particular some Japanese and Italian versions that have near-continuous contacts embedded in a polymer structure, actuated electronically.  As Eric notes, these are best implemented with DC / running-rail return, but the transversion from AC can be done nearly at each point of contact.  I would of course argue for ~1500VDC fed via suitable equipment to the DC-Link of connected dual-mode-lite hybrid consists.  (Adding the necessary 'connectivity' to one of Iden's "tenders" would not be technically difficult either...)

There are few reasons, though, not to build the bulk of the electrification as overhead constant-tension line with the usual wear-reducing lateral sinusoid pulloff, and keep any return-current arrangements in the rails compliant with that.  

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Posted by NittanyLion on Monday, December 4, 2023 11:58 AM

Euclid
What do you mean by, “Self-contained power plant” ?

I'm kinda stumped by this too, because I'm reading some sort of description of an electric locomotive with a "self-contained power plant."  Which is....literally what a diesel locomotive is?

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, December 4, 2023 9:03 PM

NittanyLion

 

 
Euclid
What do you mean by, “Self-contained power plant” ?

 

I'm kinda stumped by this too, because I'm reading some sort of description of an electric locomotive with a "self-contained power plant."  Which is....literally what a diesel locomotive is?

 

I'm guessing a fuel cell.

Jeff 

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Posted by dpeltier on Monday, December 4, 2023 11:17 PM

Erik_Mag

Batteries have the advantage of providing power though spots where the catenary may be out of service due to maintenance and also though areas where it is not economical to electrify. Battery technology has come a long ways from when the CNS&M, DL&W and the NYC were using electric locomotives with batteries. I would also think the LFP batteries would be a better fit than Li-ion.

Just some back-of-the-envelope numbers to drive home the point. All numbers are derived from Googling, I don't really know that much about locomotives but I know how to Google:

- An ET44AC locomotive is rated for 4400 HP (3,300 kW)

- The GEVO-12 prime mover weighs 42,300 lbs. Its fuel tanks can hold 5,000 gallons of diesel, which weighs around 35,000 lbs.

- If you replace the prime mover and the fuel tanks with a battery, the battery could weigh over 77,000 lbs (35,000 kg) without increasing the total weight.

- LFP batteries have an energy density around 150 wh/kg. So that battery could hold about 5,250 kWh of energy.

- So you could run the locomotive at Notch 8 for about 1.6 hours minutes on a fully charged battery (5,250 kWh / 3,300 kW)

- To maximize battery life you probably don't want to regularly do a full charge and discharge. If you try to keep the battery level between 20% - 80% of capacity, you can run for roughly 0.95 hours minutes at notch 8.

- The longest rail tunnel in the USA is the Cascade Tunnel at 7.8 miles.

- So, if you charge the battery to 80%, run through the Cascade tunnel at notch 8, as long as you can maintain an average speed of 8.2 MPH, then your battery will still have at least 20% left when you emerge. (And the DP unit is less likely to shut down in the tunnel due to excessive heat and poor air!)

You can quibble with lots of details here, but unless I screwed up something pretty major, the point is current battery technology should be more than enough to get you through just about any clearance restriction between Seattle and New York.

Dan

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 9:56 AM

How long would it take and how much money would it take to recharge a battery of that size?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 10:44 AM

dpeltier
 
Erik_Mag

Batteries have the advantage of providing power though spots where the catenary may be out of service due to maintenance and also though areas where it is not economical to electrify. Battery technology has come a long ways from when the CNS&M, DL&W and the NYC were using electric locomotives with batteries. I would also think the LFP batteries would be a better fit than Li-ion. 

Just some back-of-the-envelope numbers to drive home the point. All numbers are derived from Googling, I don't really know that much about locomotives but I know how to Google:

- An ET44AC locomotive is rated for 4400 HP (3,300 kW)

- The GEVO-12 prime mover weighs 42,300 lbs. Its fuel tanks can hold 5,000 gallons of diesel, which weighs around 35,000 lbs.

- If you replace the prime mover and the fuel tanks with a battery, the battery could weigh over 77,000 lbs (35,000 kg) without increasing the total weight.

- LFP batteries have an energy density around 150 wh/kg. So that battery could hold about 5,250 kWh of energy.

- So you could run the locomotive at Notch 8 for about 1.6 hours minutes on a fully charged battery (5,250 kWh / 3,300 kW)

- To maximize battery life you probably don't want to regularly do a full charge and discharge. If you try to keep the battery level between 20% - 80% of capacity, you can run for roughly 0.95 hours minutes at notch 8.

- The longest rail tunnel in the USA is the Cascade Tunnel at 7.8 miles.

- So, if you charge the battery to 80%, run through the Cascade tunnel at notch 8, as long as you can maintain an average speed of 8.2 MPH, then your battery will still have at least 20% left when you emerge. (And the DP unit is less likely to shut down in the tunnel due to excessive heat and poor air!)

You can quibble with lots of details here, but unless I screwed up something pretty major, the point is current battery technology should be more than enough to get you through just about any clearance restriction between Seattle and New York.

Dan

Your calculations may be accruate for that single grade.  Line segments are not made up of only a 'single grade' there are many grade permutations both ascending and descending that are involved in traversing the distances between origin and destination.  Locomotives have to operate the entire distance of their runs, not just the ruling grade.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 4:10 PM

Euclid
What do you mean by, “Self-contained power plant” ?

Self contained power plant that does not use fossil fuel, replacement for diesel, that does not require overhead wire or a third rail.    I can't see use of third rail increasing without other requirements like ROW fencing around the third rail.    Overhead wire to me seems expensive to install and maintain.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 4:15 PM

jeffhergert
I'm guessing a fuel cell. Jeff 

Too expensive to operate unless they bring that part down in price.   I think the first trains were Stadler Flirts or something in Germany?    Germany has already stated no more of that nonsense and flipped back to electric or diesel.    Shortly after that happened, Amtrak thought it would be a great idea to order more of those trainsets for California (lol).    You have to give Amtrak some kind of management award for that.

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 6:52 PM

CMStPnP
Self contained power plant that does not use fossil fuel, replacement for diesel, that does not require overhead wire or a third rail.    I can't see use of third rail increasing without other requirements like ROW fencing around the third rail.    Overhead wire to me seems expensive to install and maintain.

Someone is going to have to invent something, then, as you've ruled out virtually all of the solutions I know of.

Even going electric is likely to still involve fossil fuels.

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Posted by dpeltier on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 8:19 PM

BaltACD
dpeltier
 
Erik_Mag

Batteries have the advantage of providing power though spots where the catenary may be out of service due to maintenance and also though areas where it is not economical to electrify. Battery technology has come a long ways from when the CNS&M, DL&W and the NYC were using electric locomotives with batteries. I would also think the LFP batteries would be a better fit than Li-ion.

You can quibble with lots of details here, but unless I screwed up something pretty major, the point is current battery technology should be more than enough to get you through just about any clearance restriction between Seattle and New York.

Your calculations may be accruate for that single grade.  Line segments are not made up of only a 'single grade' there are many grade permutations both ascending and descending that are involved in traversing the distances between origin and destination.  Locomotives have to operate the entire distance of their runs, not just the ruling grade.

The subject wasn't grades, ruling or otherwise. The subject was clearance instructions and what you would need to do to bridge the gap in an overhead catenary system. And the answer is that basically even the longest clearance obstruction I can think of can probably be bridged just fine with an on-board battery.

Batteries would also let you avoid stringing wire over sidings, most yard tracks, etc. Current battery technology would not let you avoid overhead wire if your goal is full mainline electrification.

Dan

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Posted by dpeltier on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 8:59 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

How long would it take and how much money would it take to recharge a battery of that size?

Since it doesn't exist, I think the answer is - it can be designed to charge however fast you want, but there will be huge tradeoffs between speed, the effect on battery life, and the amount of equipment necessary for the charging system.

Dan

 

 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 10:27 PM

dpeltier

Batteries would also let you avoid stringing wire over sidings, most yard tracks, etc. Current battery technology would not let you avoid overhead wire if your goal is full mainline electrification.

Which is what I was driving at when saying that equipping an electric locomotive with a battery would have advantages beyond providing an answer to low clearances.

Your math and assumptions on using LFP batteries seem reasonable.

The state of the art for commercially available batteries is 450kWhr/tonne, which would be enough for branchline use. These batteries are being made for electric aircraft, though I think least another 50% increase in specific energy is needed to make it viable.

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 10:47 AM

The dismissal of the clearance issue(s) above is a non-starter. The claim of 25 foot clearance is being adequate does not fly at all. (at any potential)

Insulating underheight bridges is not cheap and does not always work (and adds to the clearance problems)

The issue of dealing with existing utilities won't be cheap either. Raising pole lines is a rather contentious issue around railroads, especially on shared pole lines where you discover how many scofflaws are out there not complying with NESC clearance rules. (Biggest violators are reckless and unthinking  phone and especially fiber operators)

Wanna make things worse? - try lowering the tracks and find out how many pipelines were installed  improperly. (railroads and utilities / pipeline companies tend to have a great deal of angst when they encounter each other)

Nobody seems to consider the run-offs that are required with this stuff.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 11:22 AM

mudchicken
The dismissal of the clearance issue(s) above is a non-starter. The claim of 25 foot clearance is being adequate does not fly at all. (at any potential)

Strangely enough, India seems to have no problems with 7.57 meter (~24' 10") clearance on double-stacks on their 25 kV electrified lines.  About 1/3 of world lines are electrified: US about 1%, Germany about 60%, China about 65%.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 3:07 PM

jeffhergert
The government is good at unfunded mandates.  PTC anyone?

For sure.  But, the RRs brought that on themselves.  Walked away from ATCS project distracted by some pretty merger mirages and some dude named EHH.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 3:13 PM

dpeltier

 

 
Erik_Mag

Batteries have the advantage of providing power though spots where the catenary may be out of service due to maintenance and also though areas where it is not economical to electrify. Battery technology has come a long ways from when the CNS&M, DL&W and the NYC were using electric locomotives with batteries. I would also think the LFP batteries would be a better fit than Li-ion.

 

 

Just some back-of-the-envelope numbers to drive home the point. All numbers are derived from Googling, I don't really know that much about locomotives but I know how to Google:

- An ET44AC locomotive is rated for 4400 HP (3,300 kW)

- The GEVO-12 prime mover weighs 42,300 lbs. Its fuel tanks can hold 5,000 gallons of diesel, which weighs around 35,000 lbs.

- If you replace the prime mover and the fuel tanks with a battery, the battery could weigh over 77,000 lbs (35,000 kg) without increasing the total weight.

- LFP batteries have an energy density around 150 wh/kg. So that battery could hold about 5,250 kWh of energy.

- So you could run the locomotive at Notch 8 for about 1.6 hours minutes on a fully charged battery (5,250 kWh / 3,300 kW)

- To maximize battery life you probably don't want to regularly do a full charge and discharge. If you try to keep the battery level between 20% - 80% of capacity, you can run for roughly 0.95 hours minutes at notch 8.

- The longest rail tunnel in the USA is the Cascade Tunnel at 7.8 miles.

- So, if you charge the battery to 80%, run through the Cascade tunnel at notch 8, as long as you can maintain an average speed of 8.2 MPH, then your battery will still have at least 20% left when you emerge. (And the DP unit is less likely to shut down in the tunnel due to excessive heat and poor air!)

You can quibble with lots of details here, but unless I screwed up something pretty major, the point is current battery technology should be more than enough to get you through just about any clearance restriction between Seattle and New York.

Dan

 

Love this!  Mike Iden et.al. are on the right track (literally?)

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 3:17 PM

11 KV  https://photos.app.goo.gl/iJkTqTe6bkKTv74g7

Not huge clearance under bridges...  I would think we could do this with 25' wire most places.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 4:00 PM

dpeltier

 

 
CSSHEGEWISCH

How long would it take and how much money would it take to recharge a battery of that size?

 

 

Since it doesn't exist, I think the answer is - it can be designed to charge however fast you want, but there will be huge tradeoffs between speed, the effect on battery life, and the amount of equipment necessary for the charging system.

Dan

 

 

 

Battery tenders for bridging gaps would recharge en route.  As fast as they discharged at least?  

I'd bet you'd manage it.  Get charge up enough for next gap, series of gaps, and regulate recharge accordingly.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 5:39 PM

oltmannd
Battery tenders for bridging gaps would recharge en route.  As fast as they discharged at least?  

I'd bet you'd manage it.  Get charge up enough for next gap, series of gaps, and regulate recharge accordingly.

My observation of batteries is that it takes longer to charge them than it does to discharge them.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, December 7, 2023 12:27 AM

I think we're assuming gaps would be under well under 50% of the line length which would imply more time spent charging than discharging. Some of the charging could be derived from regenerative braking as that's rarely done (if at all) in the US with 60Hz  electrifications.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, December 7, 2023 1:21 AM

Remermbrer that catenr-third-rail (AC or DC) dual-mode equipment weighs lots less than batteries (or stand-by diesel with fuel).

For an Electrified Class-I freight railroad, there are  certain to be lines and operations where battery catenary-gap-power makes sense, anther where third ral makes more sense.

AC-third rail impedence problems (impedense, not resistance) are easily solved with feeder cable.

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Posted by Backshop on Thursday, December 7, 2023 6:59 AM

Weight is good for tractive effort, though.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, December 7, 2023 7:12 AM

Backshop
Weight is good for tractive effort, though.

In locomotives, with road-slug driven axles, it is.  That is part of the GE/Wabtec 'solution' using the FLXdrive, which I think is a better general solution than Iden's 'tender' (I still remember the attempt with MATEs in the early '70s).

Weight is not an advantage in OTR trucks.  There is a good post on RyPN by a driver in reaction to the news about the long-term testing by Walmart and Pepsi.  Not only operational, but concerned with legal weight restrictions, which will only grow more stringent as infrastructure concerns mount.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, December 7, 2023 9:12 AM

BaltACD
My observation of batteries is that it takes longer to charge them than it does to discharge them.

Not even for fancy huge transportation batteries.  I'm certain this is universally true.

Kid me was always very frustrated that it took 4 hours to charge the batteries for my Tyco Bandit...for 15 minutes of play time.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, December 7, 2023 2:12 PM

Most BEVs can charge from 20% to 80% in 25 to 35 minutes and can go 240-350 miles, depending on temperature.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, December 7, 2023 11:19 PM

There's a tradeoff in Li-ion battery lifetime when fast charging, but, IIRC, LFP batteries are more tolerant of fast charging but at a lower specific energy capacity. Doing a fast charge on a locomotive sized battery would involve one very impressive charging station, probably requiring > 50MWhr battery just to buffer the power demand.

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, December 8, 2023 7:21 AM

Erik_Mag
Doing a fast charge on a locomotive sized battery would involve one very impressive charging station, probably requiring > 50MWhr battery just to buffer the power demand.

I recently read of a locality that was opposed to a proposed e-truck charging facility as it would draw more power than the current existing community.  It's a consideration when some areas are dealing with infrastructure that can't handle the addition of new solar facilities.

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, December 8, 2023 3:40 PM

If most other industrialized nations and even some less-developed ones seem to be able to figure out how to electrify trunk lines, it's about time we moved into the 21st century. We used to be a leader and we can again.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, December 8, 2023 4:02 PM

charlie hebdo
If most other industrialized nations and even some less-developed ones seem to be able to figure out how to electrify trunk lines, it's about time we moved into the 21st century. We used to be a leader and we can again.

In most the rest of the world, railroads are a function of the government.  That is not the case in North America where all carriers are privately owned and invested in.

A government can print billions of its currency to finance the things the government desires.

Governments don't look for a short term return on investment.  The current capitalist 'investors' demand almost immediate ROI.  Investing in railroad electrification creates a very long term ROI, longer than can attract willing investors.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, December 8, 2023 4:52 PM

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, December 8, 2023 4:55 PM

Here's an idea.  For use in tunnels where cat can't be strung, use diesels.  Their limited use won't impact the environment and you won't have to spend millions and millions to develop new, limited use technology.  You can thank me later (or never)!Bow

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, December 8, 2023 6:08 PM

Backshop
Here's an idea.  For use in tunnels where cat can't be strung, use diesels.  Their limited use won't impact the environment and you won't have to spend millions and millions to develop new, limited use technology.  You can thank me later (or never)!

It's a good idea.  In fact it's been a good idea since the late '70s when it was described by the Garrett people.

This in fact is one of the advantages of operating dual-mode-lite, where the trains are sized to the "self-propelled" power and the advantages of the electrification do not include using the higher available power under the wire for longer or heavier trains.

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Posted by rdamon on Saturday, December 9, 2023 9:41 AM

Or use 3rd rail in tunnels 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 9, 2023 10:00 AM

rdamon
Or use 3rd rail in tunnels

Note that providing the third-rail gear is an expense above what would be needed for the AC overhead line that would be used 'everywhere else'.  Conventional third rail would be a hazard for people working in tunnels, and would likely involve facilities to rectify power from the overhead line comparatively close to the run(s) of rail used.  Any drainage issues might be difficult.  In addition you'll have to deal with any issues involving 'cohabitation' of AC, DC, and signal electrical return in the running rails, perhaps in the presence of considerable traction sand.

The 'smart third rail' at least offers comparatively large contact area for a very slight actual active length, energized only when the shoe under the motive power engages it.  You can see many of the advantages for passenger rail described on its proponents' and providers' websites; you'd have to scale up to get to even dual-mode-lite instantaneous rating, but it surely can be done.

It might be added that some variant of smart third rail represents the best approach for periodic recharge of battery-electric locomotive power, if that is the 'zero-carbon' approach that might come to be embraced.  A comparatively short length, energized for a comparatively short time, might transfer enough 'state of charge' to allow a battery consist to traverse a considerable distance between overhead-electrified segments.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, December 9, 2023 10:36 AM

A lot of ideas for electrification in tunnels. Question; How many route miles of tunnels are there in US  and on what railroads (excluding Canada) outside of the NEC?

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, December 9, 2023 10:51 AM

BaltACD

 

 
oltmannd
Battery tenders for bridging gaps would recharge en route.  As fast as they discharged at least?  

I'd bet you'd manage it.  Get charge up enough for next gap, series of gaps, and regulate recharge accordingly.

 

My observation of batteries is that it takes longer to charge them than it does to discharge them.

 

Doesn't hold for automotive service.  Typical discharge rate for EV is 25 KW. (3 KWHR/mile at 75 mph) Fast DC charge 100-300 KW.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, December 9, 2023 10:55 AM

Backshop

Here's an idea.  For use in tunnels where cat can't be strung, use diesels.  Their limited use won't impact the environment and you won't have to spend millions and millions to develop new, limited use technology.  You can thank me later (or never)!Bow

 

Not terrible.  If you have to get to zero net CO2 and you run out of places plant stuff to offset, you could do bio-diesel.  But, i'd bet batteries are cheaper in the long run...or fuel cells.

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, December 9, 2023 11:11 AM

Erik_Mag

I think we're assuming gaps would be under well under 50% of the line length which would imply more time spent charging than discharging. Some of the charging could be derived from regenerative braking as that's rarely done (if at all) in the US with 60Hz  electrifications.

 

I would imagine most routes would be a few % gap at most.  From Atlanta to NJ, for example, one tunnel. (Pattenburg in NJ).  NJ to Chicago, two.  (Spruce Creek and Gallitzin)

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 9, 2023 11:16 AM

oltmannd
I would imagine most routes would be a few % gap at most.  From Atlanta to NJ, for example, one tunnel. (Pattenburg in NJ).  NJ to Chicago, two.  (Spruce Creek and Gallitzin)

Add the Bergen Hill Tunnel if you go via the National Docks Branch. 

  

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, December 9, 2023 11:33 AM

oltmannd

I would imagine most routes would be a few % gap at most.  From Atlanta to NJ, for example, one tunnel. (Pattenburg in NJ).  NJ to Chicago, two.  (Spruce Creek and Gallitzin)

Getting back to the SCRRA study on electrifying the freight railroads in the the South Coast Air Quality Basin (AKA the Southland) - HALF of the projected cost was in just improving clearances. Keep in mind that about the only tunnels are on the the Espee's Coast line between Simi Valley and San Fernando Valley. In other words, the clearance problem is with raising overpasses not tunnels. This implies numerous short gaps which makes the battery-electric idea potentially even more feasible.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 9, 2023 2:11 PM

charlie hebdo
A lot of ideas for electrification in tunnels. Question; How many route miles of tunnels are there in US  and on what railroads (excluding Canada) outside of the NEC?

Tunnels are an almost vanishingly slight proportion of the route-miles with significant overhead-clearance limitations.  Overhead bridges, espesically those of metal construction, are more of concern, particularly as efforts to reduce grade-crossing exposure develop.  I suspect a substantial amount of pushback will develop from communities that claim to dislike the 'optics' of overhead catenary, the prospective health dangers, and the amount of tree clearance, etc. that will be needed, and having effective ways to bypass these at any level of otherwise-pervasive electrification may prove important.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 9, 2023 2:18 PM

charlie hebdo
A lot of ideas for electrification in tunnels. Question; How many route miles of tunnels are there in US  and on what railroads (excluding Canada) outside of the NEC?

Tunnels are an almost vanishingly slight proportion of the route-miles with significant overhead-clearance limitations.  Overhead bridges, espesically those of metal construction, are more of concern, particularly as efforts to reduce grade-crossing exposure develop.  I suspect a substantial amount of pushback will develop from communities that claim to dislike the 'optics' of overhead catenary, the prospective health dangers, and the amount of tree clearance, etc. that will be needed, and having effective ways to bypass these at any level of otherwise-pervasive electrification may prove important.

Many tunnels are, as noted, near the tops of grades that would qualify for the initial stages of punctate electrification -- snapping and helping districts for otherwise-fairly-flat operations.  (I believe this priority is discussed in the Garrett dual-mode-lite study, although not with specific mention of tunnels.  One of the premises in the study would be that the diesel prime movers were isolated or even shut down on turning gear when under the wire, so any wired lengths would have to be long enough 'either side' of a critical tunnel to accommodate that conveniently.)

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Monday, January 8, 2024 2:00 PM

What I'm wondering about all of this, especially in light of a recent TRAINS Magazine article, is that there seems to be so many issues and expenses with battery, hydrogen and other so-called "zero emission" technologies, would just simply stringing catenary be such a bad idea afterall?

If the government is doling out huge, obscene sums of OUR money for EV charging stations, autonomous truck technologies, etc., then why not give the railroads some assistance in installing catenary?  That might be a better idea after all.

Of course, the best and most economic idea would be for the government to back off and continue to allow the railroads to operate Diesel locomotives.  Diesels are actually a lot cleaner than they were back in the 1950s & '60s.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, January 8, 2024 2:16 PM

Diesels are cleaner primaily because of various EPA regulations, which have become tighter over time.  I also don't think that there is enough money availabe to string catenary over high-density main lines, much less the secondary lines.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by tree68 on Monday, January 8, 2024 5:34 PM

Fred M Cain
What I'm wondering about all of this, especially in light of a recent TRAINS Magazine article, is that there seems to be so many issues and expenses with battery, hydrogen and other so-called "zero emission" technologies, would just simply stringing catenary be such a bad idea afterall?

All that electric vehicles of all sorts do is move the source of the power away from the end user.  

It was famously discovered following the unveiling of a GM electric car in Lansing, MI, that the source of the power to charge the car came from a coal fired power plant.

Curiously, ALL forms of electric generation are under fire from somebody.  Hydro, wind, solar, natural gas, coal, oil - all have their detractors.

At this point, I think most of them believe in the electricity fairy...

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, January 8, 2024 5:41 PM

tree68

All that electric vehicles of all sorts do is move the source of the power away from the end user.  

Curiously, ALL forms of electric generation are under fire from somebody.  Hydro, wind, solar, natural gas, coal, oil - all have their detractors.

At this point, I think most of them believe in the electricity fairy...

I agree.  It's just like the people who eat meat but don't like hunting.  

PS--You forgot the "worst"---nuclear!

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, January 8, 2024 5:56 PM

Backshop
PS--You forgot the "worst"---nuclear!

Didn't forget, just forgot to include it in my list.  Old folks will understand...

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Posted by Backshop on Monday, January 8, 2024 8:29 PM

I understand...when I remember to.  Hitting the big 65 this year.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Monday, January 8, 2024 11:40 PM

Whippersnapper!!!!

I'm turning 70 this year.

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 7:05 AM

Erik_Mag

Whippersnapper!!!!

I'm turning 70 this year.

Kids...  73

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 5:25 PM

   Bunch of whippersnappers!    83.

_____________ 

  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

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Posted by Backshop on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 5:41 PM

Last one to leave the forum, please turn off the lights...

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 3:41 AM

Two weeks + one day to go to 92nd.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 1:20 PM

I'm old enough to remember when the History Channel actually had history on it. Using the old rule of thumb, I was 420 (dog) years old last April. Be adding another 7 this year.

Jeff

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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 1:28 PM

jeffhergert

I'm old enough to remember when the History Channel actually had history on it. 

Their multi-part History of Scotland that they ran in the 2001-2002 timeframe led me to meeting my wife.

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Posted by Falcon48 on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 1:35 PM

Backshop

I understand...when I remember to.  Hitting the big 65 this year.

 

  75 last October.  My doctor says I'm starting to fossilize (my wife says that started a long time ago).

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Posted by diningcar on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 1:42 PM

ninety-two on Feb,8

Married seventy years on June 2024

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 1:51 PM

I feel like a kid.  I'm 71 and will be married 37 years in July.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 2:12 PM

77, like Red Grange's number.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 6:54 PM

charlie hebdo
77, like Red Grange's number.

I still think the Rio Grande 'Galloping Goose' got its name from Red Grange and the Packard hood ornament.

Yeah, I know it was Pierce-Arrow.  Who could tell those repurposed parts of luxury cars apart in the Depression?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 7:54 PM

jeffhergert
I'm old enough to remember when the History Channel actually had history on it.

What is shown on the History Channel, were current events when I was young.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, January 11, 2024 12:28 PM

Overmod

 

 
charlie hebdo
77, like Red Grange's number.

 

I still think the Rio Grande 'Galloping Goose' got its name from Red Grange and the Packard hood ornament.

 

Yeah, I know it was Pierce-Arrow.  Who could tell those repurposed parts of luxury cars apart in the Depression?

 

The nickname, "Galloping Ghost" was coined for Red Grange in the early 1920s by sportswriter Warren Brown, replacing the earlier "Wheaton Iceman" (also my hometown).

The term "Galloping Geese" for RGS motorcars started in the 1930s.

 

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, January 11, 2024 12:37 PM

MidlandMike
What is shown on the History Channel, were current events when I was young.

Aliens?

  

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 12, 2024 11:22 AM

What I said.

"Galloping Ghost" was a known sobriquet when RGS started building.

And it would be logical to pun on 'Galloping Ghost' by calling something with a Packard Goose on its radiator a 'Galloping Goose' -- with the logical sarcasm about ungainly appearance and strange ride quality that would go with it.

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Posted by mudchicken on Friday, January 12, 2024 12:53 PM

(PackardBaker redux)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, January 13, 2024 8:09 PM

Since the "Geese" were made from repurposed Buick and later Pierce carbodies, why was a Packard hood ornament (actually a swan or cormorant) used?

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, January 13, 2024 8:49 PM

charlie hebdo

Since the "Geese" were made from repurposed Buick and later Pierce carbodies, why was a Packard hood ornament (actually a swan or cormorant) used?

We have a Mack Bulldog on the hood of our International tanker...

Our late "engineer foreman" (head mechanic) worked for Mack...  I forget whether it's dressed up in a firefighter's outfit, or Superman...

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Posted by Patowmack-OhioSummiter on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 11:59 AM

Yeah my opinion on the issue is as long as the railroads are privately owned its probably not going to happen. Short term costs of electrifying and building substations for that electrification are too much for the class 1s to even consider doing it. Either its going to be the government paying for the companies doing it or a nationalized not for profit company doing it like conrail but on a national level. Of course nationalization is a whole different issue and i reckon everybody here knows how unlikely that is considering the lack of political will and itd be an existential fight for all the companies. 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, February 8, 2024 9:42 PM

Electrification? Currently, it would need to be using Chinese batteries, or a very long extension cord.....While we wait for the Federal EPA to ban combustion, or burning of anything...

 

 


 

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Posted by alphas on Thursday, February 8, 2024 11:00 PM

I can't imagine any RR electrification if it can only be powered by solar or wind in future years.

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, February 9, 2024 11:57 AM

alphas

I can't imagine any RR electrification if it can only be powered by solar or wind in future years.

 

May be our only chance of holding a daylight job. 

  

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, February 9, 2024 1:14 PM

alphas

I can't imagine any RR electrification if it can only be powered by solar or wind in future years.

Such an installation would undoubtedly include some form of surge power - batteries are currently used at many solar installations.  Local fire departments spent a week dealing with a fire at just such a battery farm recently.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, February 10, 2024 10:03 AM

Batteries for surge power or emergencies are an old idea.  Many early steam railroad and street railway electrifications which relied on their own power plant for electricity had large storage batteries for emergencies and to balance the load.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 10, 2024 10:40 AM

Part of any plan to electrify with predominantly 'green' energy will always involve relatively vast energy storage.  Back in the '90s much of that was supposed to be implemented with superconducting magnetic storage, and much of the 'enabling' technology will have been costed down considerably by modern improvements in tech and materials science.  One of the current things being discussed is widespread reworking of retired BEV battery cells into the equivalent of very large, somewhat defective Tesla PowerWalls with inverters synced off the 'grid' powerline frequency.  The various methods developed for wayside storage, including those discussed for the dual-mode lite proposal (Volume 4) remain useful in reducing the absolute amount of new generation capacity needed for electrification sections, although of course most of those technologies have shorter storage times than needed to accommodate periods of darkness, still air, or other causes of low renewable generation.

Incidentally, railroads ran signals for decades on battery power only until the advent of the dynamo, with it being a normal operating procedure for trackworkers to check, pull, and arrange to recharge the batteries as needed.

The early versions of electric locomotive used chemical batteries (see Dr. Pope's locomotive, and see if you can figure out why no one adopted it...)

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, February 10, 2024 1:10 PM

A number of electrifications used renewable solar energy in the form of fallling water, with dams being the method for storing the potential energy.

Using combined cycl gas turbines for generating electricity, one could argue that would be "greener" (lower pm2.5, lower CO2, and probably lower NOx), than using diesel engines.

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, February 10, 2024 1:24 PM

Erik_Mag

A number of electrifications used renewable solar energy in the form of fallling water, with dams being the method for storing the potential energy. 

How is hydro considered solar energy?

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, February 10, 2024 3:25 PM

Backshop

 

 
Erik_Mag

A number of electrifications used renewable solar energy in the form of fallling water, with dams being the method for storing the potential energy. 

 

 

How is hydro considered solar energy?

 

 

My father would use the term, "liquid sunshine" to describe rainy days.

Jeff 

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Saturday, February 10, 2024 3:34 PM

I've heard of solar farms that pump water during the day into a water tower or reservoir that's then drained at night to spin a turbine to produce electricity.

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Posted by Gramp on Saturday, February 10, 2024 3:51 PM

Sounds like Wabtec is going all in on hydrogen powered engines. 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, February 10, 2024 4:07 PM

Backshop
Erik_Mag

A number of electrifications used renewable solar energy in the form of fallling water, with dams being the method for storing the potential energy.

 

How is hydro considered solar energy?

 

Because it takes solar energy to evaporate the water that then becomes rain or snow that supplies water to hydro plants. Pretty much the same thing with wind, solar energy creates the pressure gradients in the atmosphere which then causes wind.

It's just been the last century where solar energy was more directly used to generate mechanical or electrical work, first being using concentrated solar light flux to power heat engines (Steam or Stirling)  and later photovoltaic.

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Posted by FRED CAPPELLER on Saturday, February 10, 2024 5:28 PM

Ride the South Shore in Chicago and Indiana. 1500 VDC. Have thought about eletrifying heavy freight on heavy grades out west and elsewhere. Have two freights, each with several battery and trolley locomotives, one descending, the other ascending at the same time, caternaries on both tracks. Would the downhill ones dynamic braking charging the lines be enough to power (partially) the uphills climb?

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, February 10, 2024 6:43 PM

The Milwaukee electrification saved about 17% in electric usage with regenerative braking. While the energy savings were nice, the main benefit was from reduction in brake wear and fewer accidents.

FWIW, 1500V is much too low of a voltage for a mainline electrification.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Sunday, February 11, 2024 10:04 AM

Erik_Mag

FWIW, 1500V is much too low of a voltage for a mainline electrification.

Quite true.  One of the reasons that South Shore dieselized its freight service was that the electrical system could not support operation of NIPSCO unit trains.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, February 11, 2024 10:45 AM

FRED CAPPELLER
Would the downhill ones dynamic braking charging the lines be enough to power (partially) the uphills climb?

Short answer is no.  Too much loss in all the conversions and transmission.  It also requires the trains to be balanced, an up train at the same time as a down train. 

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by aegrotatio on Saturday, February 24, 2024 11:57 AM

It takes a train "more than a mile to stop" so why not insulate a dead section of catenary under low bridges and tunnels and route the live current under or around the low bridge for continuity?

Seems like a no-brainer for me to have a couple hundred feet of dead catenary when the train can just coast through it.  Amtrak already does this on the NEC in "phase breaks" between power zones.  Amtrak also does this on at least one moveable bridge river crossing.

 

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Posted by rdamon on Saturday, February 24, 2024 12:10 PM

aegrotatio

It takes a train "more than a mile to stop" so why not insulate a dead section of catenary under low bridges and tunnels and route the live current under or around the low bridge for continuity?

Seems like a no-brainer for me to have a couple hundred feet of dead catenary when the train can just coast through it.  Amtrak already does this on the NEC in "phase breaks" between power zones.  Amtrak also does this on at least one moveable bridge river crossing.

 

 

 

Just use a version of this that can charge off of sections of CAT or 3rd Rail.

https://www.wabteccorp.com/newsroom/press-releases/wabtec-and-roy-hill-unveil-the-first-flxdrive-battery-locomotive

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Posted by aegrotatio on Saturday, February 24, 2024 12:23 PM

Yeah, I believe that's like Amtrak's plan with "Airo" trainsets using batteries and/or battery tenders.

For freight, I believe having multiple battery tenders will be in their future.

 

 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, February 24, 2024 12:25 PM

I've been advocating for using batteries to allow dead catenary in low clearance areas for years now. Also bear in mind that there were several electric locomotives with batteries built in the 1920-30 era where the batteries allowed running over short section of non-electrified trackage. The North Shore line's battery-electrics could travel up to two miles w/o overhead.

For a battery-electric, the optimal battery technology would lean more to a very high cycle life over specific energy (e.g. w-hr/lb). Right now, LFP seems to be the best match, though have reports of new technology with even higher cycle life. Think Uuninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) for a locomotive.

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