Electric Power Supply for Commuter Rail Are Railroads Keeping Up?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - rail


electrification, traction power, guaranteed power supply


Electrification offers many advantages for commuter railroads. But to derive electrification's full benefits, the traction power supply must meet demand. Several factors should cause commuter rail properties to assess their traction power investment needs: aging generation, transmission, and distribution systems; new cars with improved amenities and higher acceleration rates; and the addition of train starts. The traction power on all North America's electric commuter railroads and on certain overseas properties where shortfalls have occurred is reviewed. Preventive action may be appropriate on some North American properties to guarantee steady supplies of traction power. Strategies for managing power demand are discussed. Traction power is vitally important for electrified commuter railroads, because any failure to provide all necessary electricity can have serious consequences for speed and reliability.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, copyright remains with them.