Over the past decade there has been increased public concern about possible health effects resulting from exposure to low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (EMF). Although the main attention has focused on utility companies' high-voltage transmission lines, this public concern over EMF is likely to have an adverse effect on the installation or expansion of electrified railroad, transit, or trolleybus systems. It is yet another reason for public opposition to new electric rail systems or system expansions. Concerns may come from a variety of areas, including people living or working adjacent to electrified transit routes, riders, operators, and maintenance personnel. In addition, railroad and transit systems frequently share rights-of-way (ROW) with public utility high-voltage transmission lines, often with the utility and transit company jointly occupying the same support structures. This greatly benefits both parties, especially in urban areas, where it is expensive and difficult to obtain the necessary ROW. However, this often results in transit passenger stations being located beneath or in relatively close proximity to the utility company's high-voltage transmission lines. Some of the more prominent developments in EMF research are reviewed and how the issues pertain to electric transit operations is discussed. It identifies the areas where long-term exposure to low-frequency EMF has been linked to health hazards, the reliability and controversy of these findings, and how these relate to AC and DC traction operations in terms of both real and perceived risks. Ways of reducing AC field strengths are reviewed, along with suggestions on how transit agencies can alleviate the concerns. Current research efforts, legislative efforts in the United States and worldwide, and state and federal standards are also discussed.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 69-76
  • Monograph Title: Public transportation 1995: current research in operations
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00715529
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309061652
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Dec 29 1996 12:00AM