Light rail lines in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Monterrey, Mexico, were also set to open in 2006, but had not announced specific opening dates.Construction is underway or was expected to be underway in 2006 for Portland, Wash., commuter rail and Austin, Tex., commuter rail.
The possibility of electrifying commuter rail operations in the San Francisco Bay area is apparently getting another look. If this first main line electrification project of this century gets the green light, it would raise interesting questions:
Should the catenary wire be high enough to clear double-stacked containers on freight trains? Though the initial segment being considered does not see double-stack traffic, other lines in the region do — and it would make sense to apply a single standard for all lines. If the catenary is aligned to clear double stacks, that could be some of the highest (above top of rail) catenary in the world and could pose problems for pantographs atop standard-height electric locomotives or electric multiple unit (EMU) equipment.
Should freight operations on the line(s) being electrified also be converted to electric operation? Who would build the equipment? Rail transit operators and planners are living in interesting times.
Ernest H. Roble is a North Carolina-based writer and photographer.