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Rail News: Sustainability

SEPTA to introduce solar-powered rail signals

SEPTA’s $16.2 million project to use solar energy to reinforce power for its rail signal system would eliminate the need for external wiring.
Photo – SEPTA Facebook


The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) board last week announced it will use solar technology to reinforce power for its rail signal systems on the Warminster, Doylestown and West Trenton commuter lines in Philadelphia. 

The $16.2 million project eliminates the need for conduit and external wiring and will allow SEPTA’s system to run for 48 hours if its normal power source is lost, SEPTA officials said in a press release. 

The project is funded in part by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration under the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which was created to improve transit systems during severe weather events, officials said. 

SEPTA initially tested the technology on the Chestnut Hill West Line in northwest Philadelphia with positive results, they said.

The board also approved a 20-year solar power purchase agreement to buy energy from two solar farms in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The energy generated will provide about 19 percent of SEPTA's electricity demand. 

Additionally, the board signed a $13 million agreement with Constellation New Energy to provide energy conservation measures at SEPTA's headquarters in Center City, Philadelphia. 

The energy saving recommendations include installation of LED lights, lighting controls, solar-controlled window sheds, weather sealing, water efficient fixtures and ‘intelligent’ HVAC system controls.

The contract will generate $18 million in energy savings which will be used to pay for the project over an 18-year contract, officials said. 

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/29/2019