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Posts Tagged ‘commuter rail’

Well, here’s a new concept in energy production: braking regeneration.

Diane Cardwell writes at the NY Times, “Along Philadelphia’s busy Market-Frankford subway line, the trains behave like those of any transit system, slowing to halt at the platforms and picking up passengers.

“But more is happening than meets the eye. In an experimental system that is soon to be more widely adopted, every time the trains pull into certain stations, they recover the kinetic energy as they brake and channel it as electricity to battery banks at one of two substations.

“The batteries, managed by software, can then use that power to push the trains back out or to help modulate electricity flows on the grid.

“The system is unusual because the batteries are being used for more than just powering the trains, said Gary Fromer, senior vice president for distributed energy at Constellation, the power provider that will own and operate the system for the transportation authority.

“The electricity savings alone do not justify the battery costs, he said, so it was important to find another source of revenue, which comes from selling energy services to the grid. …

” ‘We don’t have to front the money and we’re reaping both savings and actually money coming back our way,’ said Jeffrey D. Knueppel, general manager of the transportation authority. The base technology of the system, known as regenerative braking, was one of the breakthroughs that allowed for the development of hybrid and electric cars like the Prius.” More here.

This reminds me of my 2012 post on inmates in Brazil who bike to create electricity — and reduce their sentences. And this post from 2013 about lighting schools by playing soccer. All hail to human ingenuity!

Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
The Market-Frankford subway line in Philadelphia is part of a regenerative braking experiment.

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The Red Line was telling people not to take the Red Line but to go North Station and walk. So I did.

Between Porter Square, Cambridge, and North Station, Boston, the young conductor sat down near me. I said, “How’s it been going for you?”

He said it’s OK, but he doesn’t like it when passengers start screaming at him like it’s all his fault. He said one day the train had to stop because snow was packed around a switch, and a passenger was angry with him. He got out in the snow, came back with snow up to his chest, and said, “I cleared the switch.”

He wishes passengers could take the same two-month class he took before he started. They would be amazed about all the rules and regulations. Our route passes through three track jurisdictions (I think he said three, maybe more.) At each one, the engineer has to ask permission to pass, and he has to write down the interaction in a book. Sometimes he asks the conductor to come help.

The conductor pointed out a light low down in the snow-covered track. Someone had dug it out. He told me that if the engineer can’t see a track light, he is obliged to treat it as malfunctioning and just stop.

I asked how long the conductor had worked for the system. He said he started New Year’s Eve. It’s been a real trial by ice. But he says he thinks it will get better and he actually likes it. I told him most passengers don’t blame the conductor for snow or aging train equipment.

The walk to work took longer than it should as the sidewalks were not equally clear. Charles Schwab did a lovely job with its sidewalk. Fidelity not so much. I’m thinking of switching my account.

Railroad track near my home.

012715-train-track-in-snow

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Here’s a story about how a city counterintuitively addressed its graffiti problem by offering a place to do graffiti.

Jeremy Fox writes at the Boston Globe that the graffiti mural began as a response to the growing problem of offensive messages sprayed on a wall facing the train track. That wall, he reports, “has become a local institution with a national and even international following.

“In the process, this wall at the Clemenzi Industrial Park has also become one of just a few spaces in the region where graffiti is officially sanctioned, which may help protect nearby walls from unwanted images and messages.”

(Don’t you love words like “sanctioned,” which means one thing and also its opposite?)

“John Clemenzi, who manages the property that his family has owned for four decades, said that when he began allowing artists to paint on the building’s rear wall, Beverly was in the midst of ‘a horrible graffiti problem.’ But in recent years, he said, ‘I rarely if at all see any graffiti elsewhere in the city.’ …

“The change began about a dozen years ago, when two Montserrat College of Art students approached Clemenzi with a proposal to decorate the wall, which faces the tracks for the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line. …

“He agreed to let the young artists decorate a small section, 40 feet of what he estimates is a total length of about 800 feet.

“He set three ground rules: Clean up after yourselves, no offensive messages, and don’t paint on the building’s brick faces. The students agreed to follow those rules and to help police the area, and over time, the sanctioned graffiti grew to cover the wall.” Read the rest of the story here.

Photo: John Blanding/Globe Staff
Artists worked at the Clemenzi Industrial Park in Beverly. Since people began spraypainting the wall a decade ago, the drawing of graffiti has fallen elsewhere in the city.

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