Urban Circulators--Streetcar Electrification

A number of factors distinguish electrification for streetcars compared to light rail, which should be considered in the early phases of an urban circulator project. Urban circulators are a specialized version of light rail, operating over relatively short distances in dense, built-up areas. Streetcars use either pantographs or trolley poles for current collection, the two requiring different design for the overhead contact system (OCS). This subsystem includes the contact wire, support structures to keep it at the desired height above the rail, and feeder wires for connection to the power supply. Streetcars operate on direct current (d-c), typically at 600 volts for heritage cars or 750 volts for modern types. Substations convert alternating current (a-c) power from the utility; they contain switchgear, a transformer, silicon rectifiers, and controls. The visual impact of the contact wire varies with its size, but smaller wire has higher electrical resistance and may require feeders and additional overhead elements such as frequent feed taps. The type and number of streetcars on the line affect electrification design choices. Heavy cars with large motors, or a system intended for intensive operation will require a more robust electrification than one powering a few lightweight heritage cars. Auxiliary devices like shelter lighting, fare machines, track switches, signals, and variable information signs need to be considered in the electrification design.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: 12p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01154774
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 10-0436
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 10:14AM