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Accounting for Unique Stresses on Transportation Equipment

While many Americans rely on cars for travel, we can’t discount the value of public transit — and the transportation equipment that supports these services. This is especially true in major cities like the one just steps from Amerline’s headquarters: Chicago, Illinois.

Operating one of the nation’s largest public transportation systems (second only to New York City), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) serves an average 1.6 million riders on a given weekday. The CTA fleet includes 1,864 buses that make about 19,237 trips a day and 1,492 train cars that make about 2,318 trips a day. What’s more, on certain routes, some of the major train lines offer the convenience of around-the-clock service to assist late night and early morning commuters.

All this activity can put a lot of stress on the transportation equipment that powers the city’s buses and train cars. Continuous vibrations and impact loadings the vehicles are subjected to only add to this degree of stress.

The Vibrations and Loads That Are Unique to Transit Systems

When a bus is in motion, its passengers can experience discomfort for many reasons. While there are natural vibrations that come with the interactions between the vehicle and the road, city streets are subject to potholes, cracks and other poor road conditions that can make this impact worse. When a bus comes to one of its frequent stops, the engine rocks back and forth and creates vibrations. Because the vehicle weighs more and has a higher center of gravity than a car, these vibrations are more pronounced. 

Turning over the conversation to train lines, it’s typically the contact between the train’s wheels and track that produce vibrations. The most prominent type of car in the CTA’s “L” fleet — the 5000-series — weighs 57,000 pounds without any passengers on board and runs at 55 miles per hour during service. When you combine these factors with the uneven surface on which train lines operate, the vibrations and impact felt by passengers only increases.

What Does This Mean for the Transportation Equipment Itself?

Mechanical stresses affect every part of a transportation system to some degree and its overall performance. But there are certain parts of transportation equipment that take on more of this stress than others, with cables and connectors being a prime example.

Cables and connectors are often installed in exposed areas of transportation equipment. While this means that they can become encased in water and contaminants, it also means they have less shielding from the vibrations and impact loads of vehicles. If these cables and connectors are not strong enough to withstand harsh environmental conditions, they can degrade and fail to transmit the power that’s needed to keep public transit systems running.

We recently saw this scenario play out with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The failure of a power cable caused arcing to occur on nine cars of their Orange Line fleet of rapid transit vehicles. All of the cars had to be removed for repairs, causing the MBTA to operate with two fewer train sets than normal.

Turn to Amerline for Your Cable and Connector Needs

Transportation equipment calls for robust and standardized cables and connectors. That’s exactly what you’ll find with Amerline.

Our AEC 95234 connector series consists of highly reliable circular connectors that pair exceptional anti-vibration characteristics with environmental sealing against fluid. They also allow for easy connection/disconnection to streamline the servicing of these parts.

In our product line, you’ll also find NATO connectors, which we stock for fast delivery. Meeting the military and technical procedures defined under the NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG 4074), these connectors have the highest degree of reliability and robustness.

Take the next step — request a quote from Amerline for your connector needs.

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