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Author Topic: Raiilroad power line arcing, how to get it resolved?  (Read 23338 times)

Posts: 219

« on: December 13, 2012, 08:34:27 AM »

There is arcing from the power lines that supply the motors in the Amtrak rail cars. It is a power line noise that is creating an intolerable interference and I don't know who to contact to get this resolved. The PUC and FCC have been suggested but I don't know who to contact within those agencies. Any suggestions from anyone who has successfully dealt with this kind of noise source?


Posts: 146

« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 09:03:16 PM »

You might try calling Amtrak's Customer Service number to start.  If that doesn't work out, then call whatever the number is for the PUC.  If that doesn't work out, call Laura Smith at the FCC.  She is the General Counsel and is ham friendly.  I'll leave it to you to find her number.

Amtrak Customer Service according to google
1-877-444-4773    Direct to human.

That reminds me.  There is that usually helps you find the way to get directly to a human being for most companies.

Posts: 3312

« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2012, 05:11:36 AM »

The segment from New Rochelle to New Haven is owned by the states of New York and Connecticut; Metro-North Railroad commuter trains operate on this segment.
Amtrak owns the tracks north of New Haven to the border between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The final segment from the border north to Boston is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Beginning in 1996, Amtrak electrification was extended north of NYC commuter lines along the 157-mile (253 km) section of track between New Haven and Boston with electric locomotives starting service on January 31, 2000.
Amtrak operates a 60 Hz Traction Power System along the Northeast Corridor between New Haven, CT and Boston, MA.  This system was built in the late 1990s and supplies locomotives with catenary power at 25 kV, 60 Hz.
This system is also sometimes known as the Northend Electrification.
The problem could be the regional electrical utility providing interconnects to Amtrak catenary power, OR the Amtrak catenary (traction grid) itself.  
As noted, that Amtrak traction grid in you area is newest in Amtrak 's Northeast corridor, about 15 years old.
BTW, Amtrak's Chairman of the Board is Tom Carper -- former mayor of my hometown. 
IF you get the run-around from your local Northeast contacts, his office is responsive -- especially for potential service interruption issues.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2012, 05:28:41 AM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 219

« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2012, 09:02:22 AM »

Thanks for the replies. There are good leads you both helped with. It used to be a dead silent area RFI wise with the exception of the occasional street light starter issues which the local utility was always eager to fix. Thanks to the Amtrak RFI, this current noise is like being in a thunderstorm with constant lightning strikes.

When a train goes by there is normal arcing at the train's contact wiper for maybe 15 seconds and that is understandable but the RFI I'm having issues is there regardless of if a train is there or not. Scouting around, I hear the interference with an AM radio next to the overhead supports and on one support I hear a hollow buzzing sound with the radio turned off. There's one with an Osprey nest on top and large Pole Pig on the side that has a particularly loud buzz and yet another that when I was listening by it and a train passed, I could hear the normal 15 seconds of arc for at least 90 seconds, long after the train was out of sight.

Being close to the ocean and salt marsh lands, the corrosion & organic material on the insulators must be a long term issue. Eventually whatever the specific site making the noise is will fail and if that happens the results could be catastrophic with 25KV lines.


Posts: 510

« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2012, 01:52:54 PM »

Another thing you can try is to go to the nearest grade crossing (a place where the road crosses the tracks). Look for the gate control box. On them there should be a large sign indicating who maintains the line, a DOT number or mile post indicating a location, and an 800 number to report problems. A report from you should get the right Maintenance of Way team looking into it.

Posts: 219

« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2012, 04:06:22 PM »

That's not so easy in CT, CT is the one state where the train system has altered the way the ocean meets habitation, there are overpasses and underpasses to get past the trains, normal roads with gates don't exist, you have to travel long distances to get from one access point to another. TBack when, the trains were given the best ocean view on their route and it cuts across most everywhere there is a shoreline. It's unlike anywhere else I have ever lived, no train gates that I can think of at all.

Posts: 2221

« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2012, 11:35:10 AM »

overhead caternary line rail/streetcar systems are going to spark at all grid supports, crossings, and the like.  that can't be fixed.  there are likely to be periodic sparks as the vehicle goes along when there are point issues as well.  but the pickup arm shouldn't be blasting like a comic book or a bumper car booth all the time, it will notch and weaken the overhead lines.  the motorman has a lot to do with that in how the arm is set, but so will maintenance.

practically all locomotives are now run with electric motors, whether overhead or 3rd rail, or diesel-electric powerplants.  they know how to suppress the motors... otherwise, they'd have to do heavy repair all the time.

so I hope that Amtrak will get on this... but they don't have a lot of spare equipment, and probably can't take an engine down for heavy repair until scheduled.  good luck.

Posts: 219

« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2012, 11:45:06 AM »

This problem is not related to the passage of trains, it happens at all hours and is there most all of the time. When the train goes by I hear the electrical disturbance from the wipers and that's expected but this arcing is there throughout the day and night when the trains are not running. Right now 2:45PM on New Years Eve, there is a constant arcing I hear from 160 through 6M Not constant as in a spark gap but more like a lengthier ignition noise sometimes with a constant arc & others with maybe 1/2 second on & then 1/2 second off. It's most often regular/irregular and it rips me that this area was perfect till this abomination happened. And till the insulators started breaking down there was no noise from the lines but now it's horrible.

Posts: 7718

« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 12:35:52 PM »

It sounds like a potential safety or reliability issue. Think stalled trains. I'd think if it is presented this way it will get fixed right away.
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