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Northeast Corridor tracks re-energized

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Amtrak is using $25 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to replace transformers and other electrical equipment - some of which date to before World War II - at 40 substations that deliver the power needed to propel passenger trains on the electrified tracks between New York and Washington, D.C.

"Amtrak is
re-energizing the Northeast Corridor tracks to make certain there is a reliable
and uninterrupted flow of electricity to keep trains and passengers on the
move," said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, noting that this
week a transformer in operation since 1934 is being replaced at the railroad’s
substation in Landover, Md.

Boardman explained substations
essentially take 138,000-volt electricity from the overhead transmission lines,
lower it to 12,000 volts and then send it to the catenary wires located above
the tracks to power the trains. He said in 2002 Amtrak embarked on a long-term
program to upgrade and modernize 82 outdated substations along the Northeast
Corridor. The need for the improvements was dramatically highlighted during a
significant power failure and service disruption in May 2006 between New York
and Washington, D.C., that left thousands of passengers stranded on trains.

The ARRA funding is
accelerating Amtrak’s substation modernization program and is supporting
projects located in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
Washington, D.C. For example, the work being done at the Landover substation
this week was not slated to occur until 2013.

Specifically, transformers
in service for as long as 75 years are being removed and replaced with modern
models that are more efficient, have less environmental impact, require reduced
maintenance and provide increased reliability and redundancy. In addition,
enhanced technology designed to self-monitor key substation operations is being
installed to identify and alert technicians to potential issues before major
problems arise. The electrical and installation work is being performed by
Amtrak employees.

Amtrak also received
additional ARRA funding that is helping to reduce the backlog of infrastructure
projects required to bring the Northeast Corridor closer to a state of good
repair, such as the replacement and rehabilitation of several bridges, the
installation of thousands of new railroad ties, and enhancing stations for
better access by disabled persons. All ARRA-funded projects are to be completed
by February 2011.

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