ELECTRIFICATION OF THE BLACK MESA AND LAKE POWELL RAILROAD

Computerized right down to its "toot-toot" at crossings, the world's first 50 kilovolt electric railroad began operation in late 1973 on a 78-mile line in northern Arizona on the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations. Quietly rolling along through the bleak, lonely, but beautiful, Indian land, the train hauls 10,000 tons of coal three times daily from the Black Mesa area to Navajo Generating Station. Electrification, originally chosen for environmental reasons, has also proved economically advantageous in view of the increasing cost of diesel fuel. The train is powered by three electric locomotives supplied by General Electric. Each unit is capable of developing 6,000 horsepower (diesel-equivalent). Approximately 19,000 kilowatt-hours are required during each 156-mile round trip. Power is purchased from the Navajo Utility Authority and supplied to the engines through a series of overhead wires attached to specially built poles, called a catenary system. Ribbon rail in 1,440-foot sections is used over the entire route and is fabricated from 39-foot lengths flash-welded together. Concrete ties were used instead of wood because of considerably longer useful life. Automatic controls are part of the package purchased from GE. In addition to the controls and three engines, the package also included a 50,000 volt substation. Electronic sensors are installed between the concrete ties to give instructions to the onboard components of the locomotives. Most of the instructions deal with speed, but the computer also handles such functions as blowing the train's whistle at road crossings. An observer rides in the cab of the lead engine to assume control in the event of difficulties for which the computer cannot be programmed. Loading and unloading is done automatically by electronic control while the train is moving.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Symposium held February 19-21, 1974 and sponsored by the Electric Vehicle Council, New York, New York.
  • Corporate Authors:

    International Electric Vehicle Symp & Expo, 3rd

    Washington, DC  United States 
  • Authors:
    • PFISTER, J
  • Publication Date: 1974

Media Info

  • Pagination: 8 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00127606
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Engineering Index
  • Report/Paper Numbers: No. 7455 Proc Paper
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 16 1975 12:00AM