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Passenger Trains > Per-Mile Electrification Costs


Date: 01/20/03 21:05
Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: chs7-321

Just curious:

What is the accepted per-mile electrification cost in North America today?? I am talking just the infrastructure....poles, wires, labor, substations.

How much did the New Haven - Boston electrification project cost (and I\'m looking for the figure that represents the direct costs for the electrification).

The reason for the question is that I came across the following:

In today\'s environment, it costs the RZD (Russian Federal Railways) approximately $750,000 - 800,000 per kilometer to put a two-track line under AC wire (25kV, 50Hz).

Would it be comparable in the U.S.??



Date: 01/20/03 23:50
Re: Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: mly

chs7-321 wrote:

> Just curious:
>
> What is the accepted per-mile electrification cost in North
> America today?? I am talking just the infrastructure....poles,
> wires, labor, substations.
>
> How much did the New Haven - Boston electrification project
> cost (and I\'m looking for the figure that represents the direct
> costs for the electrification).

"Officially" the New Haven-Boston electrification cost about USD2.3m per route-mile (double track ie approximately USD0.7m per track-km) for "plain" track (no movable bridges, etc), broken down approximately as follows:

Design: $190,000
TPS--substations (@ $5/unit): $125,000
TPS--auto-transformers ($1.5/unit): $9,500
OCS @ $640,000/track mile: $1280,000
Signal Compatability/SCADA: $140,000
Flagging Protection: $200,000 [Outrageous]
Property Acquisitions: $30,000
Project Management: $90,000

Design/Build Cost Total: $2.3 million per route mile.

[OCS = "Overhead Contact System" = Catenary wires and supports.
"TPS" = "Traction Power System" = 4 25hv 60hz 80mvA substations and 21 autotransformers for a total of 360 track miles, 157 route-miles]

In reality, there were all manner of cost overruns which are, as far as I know, still being sorted out via litigation.
In addition, the project appears to have been _insanely_ overdesigned. Anybody looking at the resulting mess could only think that somebody or other was getting paid by the ton of steel used.
(Officially this was to withstand ice loads. However the sheer excessive quantity and mass of the catenary supports of the project seems beyond any possible engineering justification, and is way out of line with anything I\'ve seen anywhere else in the world, including along coastlines subject to icing.)

> The reason for the question is that I came across the
> following:
>
> In today\'s environment, it costs the RZD (Russian Federal
> Railways) approximately $750,000 - 800,000 per kilometer to put
> a two-track line under AC wire (25kV, 50Hz).
>
> Would it be comparable in the U.S.??

No, despite the above.

Firstly, I suspect the quoted RZD costs are far too high.

For reference, new European high speed lines seem to be wired for about USD0.7m per track-km, with labour and material costs far higher than in Russia.

Secondly, US rail construction costs just keep getting worse and worse,
due to a combination of insanely expensive work practices and legislation
(eg "flagging" costs, in which extremely obese men are paid to stand around all day
and wave a white disk at any train which should pass a worksite on an adjacent track)
and a trade-protected market, in which experienced companies with skilled workforces are unable to bid
(compare the the European-wide construction market, with its far better record of delivering
public works projects close to budget and schedule.)



Date: 01/21/03 03:31
Re: Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: scrantondivn

MLY can make fun all he wants about "extremely fat men waving a white disc at trains", but I can assure him if he was out there running one of those trains, he\'d want all the protection he could get to keep from squashing some poor trackman. Better yet, HE should do some trackwork for one of the subcontractors who only care about getting the work done as fast as possible and who don\'t clear up until the last possible minute (sometimes not even then).
See how sarcastic you\'d be after you had a train whiz by a few inches away & you didn\'t even know it was there.



Date: 01/21/03 09:03
Re: Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: dchui

mly wrote:

However the
> sheer excessive quantity and mass of the catenary supports of
> the project seems beyond any possible engineering
> justification, and is way out of line with anything I\'ve seen
> anywhere else in the world, including along coastlines subject
> to icing.)

It seems that way, but compare it to the catenary that was put up for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail in NJ ... designed for much lower speeds in a much more congested urban space, they ended up with structures that look just as overbuilt as New Haven-Boston (considering it\'s literally just a trolley line).



Date: 01/21/03 10:48
Re: Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: mly

dchui wrote:

> mly wrote:
>
> However the
> > sheer excessive quantity and mass of the catenary supports
> of
> > the project seems beyond any possible engineering
> > justification, and is way out of line with anything I\'ve
> seen
> > anywhere else in the world, including along coastlines
> subject
> > to icing.)
>
> It seems that way, but compare it to the catenary that was
> put up for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail in NJ ... designed for
> much lower speeds in a much more congested urban space, they
> ended up with structures that look just as overbuilt as New
> Haven-Boston (considering it\'s literally just a trolley line).

Like I said, somebody is being paid by the ton.

There\'s basically no reason for any of the near-zero-speed US light rail boondoggles to be using catenary (as opposed to a single trolley wire) at all. (Of course there\'s no reason for most of them to exist in the first place.)



Date: 01/21/03 11:03
Re: Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: mly

scrantondivn wrote:

> MLY can make fun all he wants about "extremely fat men waving
> a white disc at trains", but I can assure him if he was out
> there running one of those trains, he\'d want all the protection
> he could get to keep from squashing some poor trackman.

So where are all the German and Swiss and Dutch and Norwegian and Japanese and Spanish track worker deaths? There should be hundreds a year to hear you describe it.

Sounds like something is wrong with either the employees or the training of the employees here; there\'s nothing inherently dangerous about, say, doing a complete track, ballast and subgrade replacement of one track alongside an active bidirectional running track inside a narrow double-track tunnel which sees over a hundred 50mph trains pass in a day.

(This operation would take weeks in the US, would involve complete line shutdowns, and would probably be undertaken with blunt adzes, flake knives and other relics of the prehistoric construction era. But why not? After all, who cares about timely and reliable service for either freight or passengers here.)

> Better
> yet, HE should do some trackwork for one of the subcontractors
> who only care about getting the work done as fast as possible
> and who don\'t clear up until the last possible minute
> (sometimes not even then).
> See how sarcastic you\'d be after you had a train whiz by
> a few inches away & you didn\'t even know it was there.

I\'ve watched plenty of trains whiz by a few inches from workers who know what they\'re doing and who manage to complete their tasks in fraction of the time and cost and with a minute fraction of the service disruption which even the most trivial rail maintenance operations involve here.

It can be done, but of course you (workers, maintenance contractors and rail operators) first have to care about doing a good job.



Date: 01/21/03 19:56
Re: Per-Mile Electrification Costs
Author: chs7-321

mly wrote:

> There\'s basically no reason for any of the near-zero-speed US
> light rail boondoggles to be using catenary (as opposed to a
> single trolley wire) at all. (Of course there\'s no reason for
> most of them to exist in the first place.)
>


I respectfully disagree:

1) they\'re not boondoggles. Tram/Streetcar systems exist in many major cities worldwide. A lot of people prefer a tram line to a bus, if there is a choice.

2) Many new tram/trolley grade-separated installations in places such as Europe use catenary.



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