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US railroad electrification

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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.

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

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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.

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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...

LarryWhistling
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Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
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Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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