At present there are slightly over 2500 route miles of railroads and transit systems in the United States in operation or under construction that are electrified. Railroads account for 1,947 route miles of electrification and rapid transit operations account for 481 miles. By the start of World War II, most railroad electrification now in service had been installed. Some rapid transit lines have been constructed in recent years. Technological breakthroughs, here and particularly in Europe, have improved the outlook for electrification. One is the ability of power companies to be able to handle the large 60 Hz, single-phase load of electrification from a three-phase power system. Use of the 60 Hz, standard frequency, eliminates the cost of converting to another frequency. Also, at higher voltages-consideration is given to 25 kv or 50 kv, 60 Hz systems-the installation of current carrying catenary wire is less costly and a smaller number of substations are required. Of equal importance is the development of silicon controlled rectifiers for conversion of the 60 Hz AC of the transformer aboard the locomotive to direct current to operate the traction motors. DC traction motors have proved to be best suited for rail hauling operations. DC traction motors are used in diesel-electric locomotives as well as on rapid transit cars. Experts have indicated that, generally speaking, for equivalent weight and space, straight electric locomotives can be built to produce over twice the horsepower of a diesel-electric locomotive. Also, it has been determined that the economic life of an electric locomotive is at least 30 years or more. A large deterrent to further electrification in recent years has been lack of capital by the railroads to invest in catenaries, motive power and system modifications. However electric utilities have shown interest in providing the catenary part of electrification, possibly in a trade-off for right-of-way privileges for transmission lines. Edison Electric Institute and several power companies are studying this matter with interested railroads. If predicted traffic growths become reality during this decade of the Seventies, electrification may well become the economic salvation of the railroads.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

    P.O. Box 350
    Bristol, CT  United States  06010
  • Publication Date: 1970-3

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 13-17
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00041087
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Railway Signaling and Communications
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 9 1973 12:00AM