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Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:
Our feature article is "Electric Railroads"
Some other topics we cover are:
Railway Power Plants
New York to Boston Electrification
New Haven Railroad Electric Pictures
Electric Systems in use in the Northeast
Electric Railroads by David S.Lawyer
"Those Classic Trains"
New York Central Electrics
Amtrak E60 Electric Photo
Postcard Collection: Philadelphia Trolley, Utica Trolley
The Trolley Bus
Where were the PCC's?
High-Speed Rail Corridors and John R. Stilgoe
Don't leave without visiting our Electric Railroads Reference Material
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The original S-1 of 1904. It started off as #6000 and went through several renumberings, the last of which was #100.
This picture was taken in Colonie, New York while the Motor was headed for the American Museum of Electricity
This locomotive was displayed for several years by the M&H Chapter NRHS at the Altamont Fair. It looked the same then.
Electrification of railroads was never uniform. The disparate voltages, cycles, etc were the result of free enterprise capitalist competition. The competition between PRR, NYNH&HRR, DL&W, NYC, etc was to provide the best service at lowest cost. And, competition between RR Suppliers (notably GE & Westinghouse) for the business, each offering what each thought was the best/cheapest solution.
GE was always a DC oriented company. NYC & PRR, being conservative sort of RRs, picked proven 600VDC technology, much of it from GE. NYNH&HRR being a tad more adventurous, and with longer distances to be electrified (Boston in 1907...) picked the high tech, untried HVAC (11kv/25), largely from Westinghouse.
There was MUCH yelling and screaming in the technical press at the time. Westinghouse/NH made HVAC work. Despite all the posturing, the differences between the two were small, in efficiency/economic terms. EITHER was way better than steam, in energy efficiency or any other measure.
PRR could see this and eventually adopted 11KV. By the 1930's, GE had developed rectifier technology to the point where they sold DL&W on 3kv dc, which worked fine until worn out and then they moved to 25KVAC. By 1970 or so the technology of 60Hz had advanced enough to make it practical at 11kv for the NY&LB electrification (which PRR had not completely wired) and 25KV for the ex DL&W. Modern equipment makes the voltage change over trivial if designed for it. Remember, NYNH&H & Westinghouse made DC and AC work on the same locomotive or EMU in 1907....
I've tried to collect some notes on electrified railroads. It is in rough chronological order & sticking to main lines...
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Electric Systems in use in Northeast
LIRR: 750V DC over-running third-rail
Metro-North: 600V DC under-running third-rail in NY; 25kV/60Hz AC via catenary for the New Haven line in CT
NJT: Depends on the line (all via catenary):
Northeast Corridor: 11kV/25Hz AC
North Jersey Coast Line (between Rahway and Matawan): 11kV/25Hz AC
North Jersey Coast Line (west of Matawan): 25kV/60HZ AC
Morris & Essex Line: 25kV/60Hz AC
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Electric on the New Haven
See some historic photographs of the New Haven Railroad's electrification. Old Cos Cob generation plant. Electrics in New Haven, New York City, and in between!
Milwaukee Railroad BiPolar Locomotive
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#278, a T3a built by GE at Erie in 1926 and was the last T-motor to operate. It is the only one left in existence. It was acquired by the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter NRHS in 1980 and restored by members.
It was a star in a movie made in Grand Central in the mid to late 80's. The movie was called "The House on Sullivan Street". (Later renamed "The House on Carroll Street") The House on Carroll Street") It has a Hitchcock like finale in the movie The House on Carrol Street (1985), director Peter Yates. The action is supposed to take place in the mid 1950s. Kelly Mc Gillis and Jeff Daniels star.
T-3a #278 was last used in PC service in Sunnyside Yard, Long Island, NY for service in the wire train on the ex PRR east river & Hudson river tunnels,as they could operate on the 650 volt third rail while the 11,000 overhead AC catenary was turned off,as diesels were not allowed at this time.
A question from the NYC-RR forum at Yahoo
For the purists in the group, I don't think it's totally accurate to refer to T3a 278 as a General Electric locomotive as does this web page . I have seen more documentation (NYC records) for the S motors than the T motors, but they are usually referred to as Alco-GE products. GE supplied the electric gear, while American built the carbody and the running gear. Much like the Alco-GE diesels of the late 1940s. I wonder also if 278 was built at Erie Pa as the web page states. My understanding is that the electric gear was built there, but the carbody work plus final assembly was done at the Schenectady Works of American Locomotive.
I'm afraid some of my (General Electric) prejudice showed in referring to T3a 278 as a General Electric locomotive, without first verifying facts. However that specific quote came to me, along with some pictures of 278, from Joseph D. Thompson of the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter NRHS when I made a contribution to the restoration of 278.
I have seen more documentation for the S motors than the T motors also. I'll share with you what I do know:
From 1940 to 1953, Alco and GE combined their locomotive sales forces and marketed their products under the joint Alco-GE name. For many years the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) had been supplying General Electric with mechanical assemblies used in the successful freight motor locomotive production for straight-electric trolley and interurban rail lines. This relationship went back to about 1898 when the General Electric Traction Department was located in the vicinity of the Schenectady Locomotive Works (it didn't become the American Locomotive Company until 1901).
The S motors definitely came from city of Schenectady as the General Electric Main Plant/Schenectady Works is the other end of Schenectady's Erie Boulevard: about a mile from where ALCO was. The motors were built in like building 16 or building 18 at the Main Plant. Testing was done in nearby Scotia/Glenville on tracks parallel to NY Central Mohawk Division (just TimeTable West of Sandbank Yard). Note: normal ALCO test spot was NY Central's Troy & Schenectady.
Now, between the S Motor and the T Motor General Electric opened in 1911 a plant in Erie, Pennsylvania. As best I know, the DC Motor Department and the Locomotive Department moved there. Know they had an electrified test track (part of GE subsidiary East Erie Commercial Railroad).
That means General Electric COULD have built T Motor in Erie. After all, they had the experience. In 1893, the General Electric Company, itself only a year old, had completed it's first electric locomotive.
As an aside, the General Electric Main Plant (Schenectady Works) was much bigger than the Erie Plant or the American Locomotive plant. In fact, it was second only in size to Ford's River Rouge plant in Dearborn Michigan. Schenectady could honestly say it was "The city that lights and hauls the World".
By Ken Kinlock at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a 1967 picture that was used by Joe Thompson of the M&H Chapter of the NRHS for fund raising. Note the different paint scheme.
Here are a couple of screen prints from the movie #278 "starred" in.
The Trolley Bus
Trolley buses are still with us in San Francisco, Seattle, SanRemo, Italy (pictured above) and many other places. They are quiet, have great pickup, don't have any diesel exhaust and have low maintenance costs. I once asked a friend in the GE transportation products business in Erie, PA (where the GE locomotives are made) why there aren't more trolley buses out there in many cities. He said that when one sells a trolley bus, he has to make his profit on the sale of the bus. There will be little profits in spare parts and maintenance supplies after the sale. But when one sells a diesel bus, he makes his profit on the maintenance supplies, so the initial selling price of diesel bus need not include much, if any, profit. Since everyone today buys on first cost, the diesels get all the business. Now that the price of oil is going up, and the availability of oil is subject to the whims of the Mid-East, the trolley bus may yet become very popular. It doesn't pollute and the electrical energy to drive it can be produced economically, without pollution, from nuclear energy. In fact, it would be feasible to put wires over the interstate highway system and use electrically propelled tractors and buses rather than diesels.
The Place for Classic Electric Locomotives
Light Rail Transit Association
Pictures of New York Central electrification
RAILROAD POWER PLANTS
One of the interesting sides to electric railways (mainline, interurban, subway, whatever) are the power plants that go along with them. One of the best known is the early 20th Century New Haven plant at Cos Cob. Located on the old NY,NH&H mainline between New York and Stamford, its big Westinghouse generators fed 11,000 volts of AC power to four owners. As well as powering catenary for thousands of freight and passenger trains, it was known as the polluter of the Greenwich "Gold Coast". The coal ash was known as "Cos Cob snow" before the coal boilers were traded in for oil and gas. It was thought to be obsolete in 1956 but continued to operate. Near failures in 1981 forced an upgrade, but it was finally retired. It was designated a National Engineering Landmark in 1982.
By Ken Kinlock at email@example.com
Cos Cob delivered power at one end from Sunnyside Yard on the Pennsylvania system as far as Cedar Hill Yard just north of New Haven. Its 700 kv. of power went over 132 miles of power lines and 24 miles of power cables in order to support 89 miles of railroad. The 344 miles of signaled track had 1718 transformers to operate 940 track circuits, 1215 signal arms and 133 switch units. There were 36 interlocking towers with 1245 working levers. Non-motive power requirements ranged from 700 watts for a switch motor to 0.144 watts for a tower indicator.
While the New Haven had one power plant for the entire 82 electrified miles, the New York Central had several because it used DC instead of AC. One was once right in Grand Central Terminal. A large power plant was on the Hudson at Glenwood. Later operated by Consolidated Edison, it is now abandoned. One electrified line went to North White Plains while another went to Croton North on the Hudson River. As well as the Grand Central Terminal complex, the West Side Freight Line was electrified from Spuyten Duvyil south to the 33rd Street yard.
Power requirements on the New York Central were also significant. At one point, over 100 electric motors (locomotives) were in service. Best known were the pioneer Class S and the subsequent Class T which pulled passenger trains in and out of Grand Central. In addition, there were Class R freight motors and Class Q switchers. Later on, Class P-2A motors took over most of the passenger work. Their six big GE traction motors developed over 4200 horsepower, had 8 running speeds, and could reach 70 m.p.h. In addition, several hundred M-U cars were operated daily.
The Hudson Tubes (Hudson & Manhattan Railroad now PATH) built a Jersey City powerhouse in 1908. It was 200 by 200 feet and 100 feet high and was ungainly in form but exquisite in detail. The south side had four giant stacks and held the steam boiler apparatus. The central tower was used for lifting coal. The north side contained the turbines behind a giant window. The station was designed to produce 18,000 kilowatts which was adequate for the original 140 cars. The system began to buy commercial power after World War II and the equipment was scrapped but the building still remains.
New York City subways even had a monumental power house - the old IRT plant at 59th Street and 11th Avenue. Built in 1904 for $7 million; it had 132,000 horsepower and burned 1,000 tons of coal a day (unloaded from the river at the 12th Avenue frontage). When built, it was the largest steam-driven power plant in the world but was soon technically obsolete as it used reciprocating steam engines instead of turbines. It was sold to Consolidated Edison in 1959 and still supplies some of the subway electricity.
The old Pennsylvania RR did not build its own power plants but instead purchased 13,200 volt, 25 cycle single phase power from four utility companies. It was supplied at seven points from 17 generators and frequency changers. Six supply point substations stepped it up to 132-kv. Railroad-owned substations contained transformers and switchgear to control the power to and from the 11,000 volt catenary, 132-kv transmission lines, and the 6600 volt signal system. The entire PRR system was controlled from a central load dispatching office in Philadelphia. The load dispatcher coordinated operations of power directors in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Harrisburg as well as the four utilities.
No discussion of electric power would be complete without mention of the Milwaukee Road. Their Rocky Mountain Division was supplied by the Montana Power Company from their Missouri River hydro plant. The western end of this division was supplied from Columbia River hydro power. The Coast Division was also supplied by hydro power from two utilities. The railroad had to build over 600 miles of 1000-kv AC transmission lines to deliver power to isolated substations.
SEPTA AFTER A BLIZZARD(Rare Postcard)
March 15, 1993. Resting in the yards of SEPTA's ex-P&W Norristown High Speed Line after battling the blizzard of '93 are venerable Bullet car 206 and successor N-5 prototype 451. The electronic three-phase drives and steering axles of 451 place it in the vanguard of modern car designs.
Photo by R.E.Jackson
New York to Boston Electrification
Amtrak is electrifying tracks from New Haven to Boston (New York to New Haven is already electric) as part of a $1.9 billion project to upgrade the New York-Boston portion of the Northeast Corridor.
Concern that freight service will suffer in an already weakened New England economy is surfacing. There are forty-seven businesses along the Connecticut and Rhode Island shore line. Included are Electric Boat, Pfizer and Millstone nuclear plant. Some, like Atlantic Wire Co. of Branford, CT have returned to rail after several years of service by truck. Many of these are served by the Providence and Worcester Railroad which is concerned if train control computers can find room enough for all the trains. What they are really saying is will Amtrak pay for new sidings and upgrade of clearances? P&W feels 19-foot clearances should be increased to 21 feet to accommodate tri-level freight cars. This will help land additional port business.
Amtrak is planning to add approximately 16 express trains each direction by 1997. This is in addition to between 10 and 12 now operating each way.
In 1955 over 20 New Haven trains operated each way on the New York - Boston route. They didn't even use computers then and served a lot more than 47 businesses. Passenger times between New York and Boston ran around four hours as compared to about four and a half now. The intent is to get under three hours.
A second Boston airport is the alternative to this upgrade. The intent is to attract passengers with economical, high speed service and provide a better alternative than flying.
New Rochelle has received a boost from Amtrak's decision to continue to use its downtown station and invest $92 in improvements. It is the only Westchester stop on the Northeast Corridor. Joint use with Metro-North frequently results in delays and congestion. Amtrak expects high speed service will result in station stops to increase from 4 to 18 and passenger volume to double to 160,000 annually. While the station will receive new ticket windows, self-ticketing, disabled accommodations and more seating, the biggest changes will be in trackwork. Amtrak has to cross over three sets of tracks now. Center island platforms are planned. The most expensive ($65 million) part of the plan involves building a flyover where Amtrak will cross over Metro-North tracks. Talk will begin on a parking garage. Metro-North wants 1000 spots and Amtrak 300. The renovated station will also accommodate buses and airport limousines.
New Haven's station has recently been upgraded with new platforms with elevators and is a major Metro-North Commuter Railroad terminal. In addition, it is the terminal of the Shore Line East commuter system. Shops are being modernized to maintain Shore Line East locomotives and coaches as well as the Metro-North New Haven Line rolling stock. It currently serves as the power (electric to/from diesel) change point for Amtrak.
Stamford is also a major Metro-North terminal where more than half the trains on the New Haven line terminate. Storage tracks are being added and additional platforms including elevators and escalators are in the works. Currently expresses stop at the same tracks where locals terminate. Metro-North is building a maintenance shop and a car washer here.
Sunnyside Yard, just across the East River from Penn Station; as well as Boston's South Station, will continue as major Amtrak servicing facilities.
Commuter lines utilizing the Northeast Corridor are Metro-North between New Haven and New Rochelle, Shore Line East between Old Saybrook and New Haven and the MBTA which operates from Boston to Providence.
Concrete ties are being installed on parts of the shore line route that didn't have them installed a few years ago. High speed crossovers (80 mph) are also being installed in preparation of electrification and high speed train service. Equipment is still being considered. There have been several experiments with trains that can better handle the curves as the roadbed follows the shore line. Some of these tests have been with the X-2000 trainset that toured the country recently. The "Peck" movable bridge in Bridgeport is being replaced. This four track and its half-mile long viaduct approaches will be completed by 1998.
While most of the emphasis has been on passenger service, freight should not be ignored. In Rhode Island, more than 120 miles of track have been abandoned. Only 12 lines with 145 miles remain with much of this being the Amtrak Corridor. The Corridor Improvement Project requires that connecting tracks be modernized or abandoned and no money seems to exist. Factors affecting Rhode Island rail service include deferred maintenance, government subsidy of other transportation modes and the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy.
By Ken Kinlock at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amtrak E60 Electric
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Electric Railroads in the US and Elsewhere (in progress)
by David S.Lawyer
While studying the Conrail/NS/CSX merger, I looked at a 1966 issue of Janes' World Railways. This book is published in England, so it does not always have the latest information. A Pullman ad featured a picture of D&H 29055, a 50 foot boxcar. According to the book, the D&H had 763 route miles, 118 line diesels and 35 "shunt" diesels. There were 116 passenger cars and 9,304 freight cars on the roster.
The New York Central map was at least 30 years out of date, while the C&O was current. For instance, the NYC map showed an old Michigan Central route between South Haven and Kalamazoo in Michigan which had been sold to C&O, but the C&O map showed branches to South Haven and Paw Paw, which was correct for 1966.
The book showed the following electric locomotives in 1966:
New Haven 21
NY Central 39 line electrics and 21 "shunt" electrics (the S- class motors)
Niagara Jct. 9
Pennsylvania 153 line electrics and 13 "shunt" electrics
Content provided by Those Classic Trains
Manhattan Transfer & Hudson River Tunnels, New York City
Emergence of Electrical Utilities in America
The PCC: Where did it Operate?
Current operators in 2007:
- San Franscisco
- Kenosha, Wis.
- Newark, NJ (until 2001)
The original North American operators: listed at , include:
Minneapolis - St. Paul
New York City
Some cities had multiple transit companies that operated the PCCs, like Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railways in that city.
Louisville's PCCs never ran in revenue service; they were sold to Cleveland shortly after delivery. And speaking of Cleveland, add the City of Shaker Heights,which was a separate operation from the Cleveland city system.
The greatest number of PCCs, though, operated in Eastern Europe. The Czech carbuilder Tatra produced well over 10,000 PCCs,many of which are still operating. Some Western European carbuilders used the PCC patents, too, particularly in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Some cities ( or suburban areas) operated cars which employed a modified PCC body, though some of the cars ( particularly the 1949 St Louis PCC type interurbans operated by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company---or Red Arrow Lines) were non PCC in their operating components. Additionally, Atlantic City operated the largest fleet of Brilliners ( Brill's attempt to build a car which would compete with the PCC), though Baltimore and Cincinnati had one Brilliner each, and Philadelphia's PTC had three. The Red Arrow had 10 double ended high speed versions of the Brilliner which actually outlasted all of the others by more than 20 years-- except for No 10 which was wrecked in 1963-- ( and they outlasted most PCC cars as well) being retired in 1971 by SEPTA.
Washington DC---- the only fleet of PCC Cars to operate using the undeground conduit current collection system.
By the time the PCC car was placed into production, the financial state of traction companies was such, that many companies that didn't purchase new PCCs, but were able to survive into the 1950's were able to acquire used PCCs from companies that bustituted their PCC equipped streetcar lines. Philadelphia, for instance, in addtion to the very large fleet of new PCCs it acquired, purchased second hand PCCs from St. Louis ( the city) and Kansas City. Some of the Dallas PCC's wound up in Boston, and Toronto's fleet included former Kansas City PCC Cars and former Birmingham ( Ala) cars---some of which wound up in Philly after the late 1970's Woodland Depot fire.
Car #451 is a double truck, double-ended, PCC streetcar built in 1949 by the St. Louis Car Company. It is equipped with all electric controls, four 55 hp General Electric 1220 E1 motors, B-3 trucks, and MFR-WAB track brakes.
The car was operated by the Illinois Terminal Railroad and ran between St. Louis, MO and Granite City, Illinois. The car was acquired by the museum in 1963 and was leased to the Shaker Heights division of the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for three years. 451 was completely restored by them and returned to the Connecticut Trolley Museum in working condition.
There is always a chance of storms in the
Find out more about Weather around the World
Ominous Weather is about more than weather. Its about our environment. Its about our social issues that need to be surfaced if we want to save our environment. See Champions of our Environment like Al Gore SAS le Prince Albert II de Monaco John R. Stilgoe Ralph Nader. We have other environmental sites on garbage trucks and Rapid response temporary shelters / portable housing. We have addressed several railroad-related projects that will conserve fuel and lessen pollution. Our Window on Europe spotlights projects that can help the rest of the World.
RailwayStation.comhas provided a 1942 Quiz Book on Railroads and Railroading.
Here's some interesting questions and answers:
What railroads operate electrified mileage in the United States?
At the beginning of 1941, twenty-five Class I line-haul railroads were
operating electrically 2,873 miles of road and 6,755 miles of track,
Railroad Miles of Road Miles of Track
Baltimore & Ohio 3 9
Beaumont, Sour Lake & Western 27 35
Boston & Maine 8 21
Chicago, M., St. P. & P 661 909
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western 68 161
Great Northern 73 94
Illinois Central 40 155
Illinois Terminal 391 495
Lehigh Valley 12 24
Long Island 139 430
New York Central 93 470
New York Connecting 21 65
New York, New Haven & Hartford 128 641
Norfolk & Western 76 212
Northwestern Pacific 21 42
Pennsylvania 675 2,195
Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore 44 76
Reading 84 193
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Pot 2 21
Southern Pacific -- 42
Spokane, Portland & Seattle 148 188
Staten Island Rapid Transit 22 45
Union Pacific 3 4
Virginian 134 223
What is a catenary?
A catenary on an electrified railroad is the overhead structure,
consisting of cross and longitudinal wires and cables, which holds the
electrically charged trolley wire in firm position at an approximately
uniform elevation above the track.
What is a pantagraph?
A pantagraph is a device attached to an electric locomotive or to the roof
of a passenger car to collect electric current from an overhead trolley wire.
Its function corresponds to that of a trolley arm on a street car.
It consists of a collapsible, diamond-shaped, jointed frame operated by
springs or compressed air, and having a suitable collector, or trolley
contact, at the top.
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