Traction Power & Electrical Systems

SYSTRA’s power systems engineers and designers have diverse engineering backgrounds, essential to the successful analysis, design and construction of the many varieties of power distribution systems encountered throughout the transportation industry. We understand the importance of a well-designed power system, which consists of utility interconnections, substations, and power distribution and delivery systems, to enhancing reliability, passenger comfort and safety, and reducing operating costs. SYSTRA’s engineers have specialized project experience in areas such as:

  • Load Flow Analysis
  • Electrical Power System Analysis
  • AC and DC Substations
  • Transmission and Distribution
  • Contact Rail Systems
  • Overhead Contact Systems
  • Signal Power Systems
  • Auxiliary Power Systems

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Representative Projects: 

MTA Long Island Rail Road PN-PE Traction Power Load Study
New York, New York

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) operates the busiest commuter rail network in North America, with more than 1000 daily train movements. To support this operation, it has the largest railroad DC traction power system in North America with 105 traction power substations. The vast majority of the LIRR train movements utilize Electric Multiple Unit or dual-mode diesel/third rail mode locomotive rolling stock. As the LIRR fleet expands in numbers and in terms of vehicle weight, the electric traction power system continues to require reinforcement and capital investment.

As passenger traffic increases and major capital investments came online, the Long Island Rail Road implemented a number of measures to meet the forecast demand. This included the introduction of M7 new vehicles and a new operating plan for the year 2020. These changes placed increased demand on the traction power system. To evaluate the traction power system, SYSTRA was selected to determine its current operating characteristics, overall capacity, and ability to handle future increases in electrical loading.

SYSTRA applied the RAILSIM v7 Simulation Software Suite, including RAILSIM Load Flow Analyzer, to analyze the system under normal and perturbed conditions. Baseline output for the current LIRR infrastructure under current operations was first established. This was followed by evaluation for 2020 infrastructure, including the major MTA/LIRR East Side Access Project, and its associated increase in train movements. The SYSTRA team then introduced specific feeder and substation failures at specific locations throughout the system in subsequent simulations to test the resiliency of the traction power system.

As part of the load flow model, SYSTRA computed yard and shop loads as a function of time of day for the yard and shop facilities, since these locations form part of the overall traction power system. RAILSIM LFA supported import of the power demand curve for each location, reflecting yard inventories as a function of time of day, as well as shopped cars that continue to draw their power from the DC traction power system. SYSTRA also identified switch heater loads that take power from the traction system and input them into the model.

SYSTRA's final report to the LIRR included recommendations for strategic traction power system upgrades based on the needs determined by the 2020 operating plan.

Operations Simulation
Traction Power Analyses
Electrical Engineering