East Side Access Powers Up Substations

So how much power does a new LIRR service to east midtown Manhattan need to run trains for 162,000 daily passengers?

The East Side Access project is slated to build eleven facility power substations, eight traction power substations and three bulk power substations between Queens and Manhattan. These substations will power more than eight miles of track, tunnels, signals and the entire LIRR terminal beneath Grand Central.

Substations are core components of electrical generation, transmission and distribution systems: they “step-down” high voltage to low, or the reverse, or perform any of several other important functions. Substations are crucial to the operation of railroads – they convert AC voltage to DC voltage which is safely fed to the third rail out on the tracks. This electrical power then energizes each train’s traction motor, the electric motor which propels the train. New substations are being installed throughout the LIRR system, and for the East Side Access project, to assure LIRR customers of continued power quality and reliability.

The project’s bulk power stations are B10 in Queens, B20 in Manhattan and B30 in Manhattan, which is currently providing temporary power to the Manhattan side of the project. B05, B06 and B13 have also been energized.

The Energization Process

It’s a lengthy road to bulk substation energization. ESA builds a substation and places all the necessary equipment in the facility, then performs in-house substation testing for up to 12 months. Once in-house testing is completed, ESA reaches out to ConEdison for review of the substation and approval. ConEdison reviews, inspects and tests the substation and all its equipment; once the substation “passes” ConEdison’s tests, the utility provider connects the bulk substation to its main network – once bulk power is delivered, ESA distributes it as usable power to other substations.

B10 Bulk Power Substation, the Main ESA powerhouse for Queens

B10 Bulk Power Station, the main ESA powerhouse for Queens, was energized in November 2018. B10 powers all the substations between Roosevelt Island to 39th Street including two traction power substations (C06 & C07) and seven facility power substations (B05, B06, B07, B08, B09, B11 & B13) – there are six direct ConEdison feeds to B10. Now that B10 has been energized, the distribution of power and energization of other substations can begin: teams will begin to prepare the substations to convert and distribute the high voltage power into usable traction and facility power.

B11 Substation

B11 was energized in May of this year. This substation steps down power and sends it through the signal power system at Harold Interlocking in Queens.

B13 Substation

B13 was energized during the last week of July 2019. This substation steps down steps down and provides power to Track A, B/C and D reception pits and to tunnel ventilation fans in the yard lead tunnel; B13 also powers fire alarm, HVAC and ATC systems in the 39th Street building in Manhattan and the stair pressurization system.

B05 and B06 Substations

B05 (Roosevelt Island) and B06 (Vernon) substations were energized in September 2019 and are currently stepping down power several systems, including tunnel ventilation fans, HVAC systems, communication equipment, security devices, lighting installations and pumping stations.

East Side Access is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects currently underway in the United States. East Side Access provides new, direct LIRR service into a new concourse below Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East Side, reducing commutes into Manhattan by up to 40 minutes. The project encompasses work in multiple locations throughout Manhattan and Queens and comprises more than eight miles of tunneling.

East Side Access is an integral component of the broader LIRR system expansion initiative to help reduce passenger crowding, train congestion and automobile traffic, and to provide connections with additional regional transportation options such as Metro North Railroad and New York City Transit subways; East Side Access will also alleviate train and passenger congestion at New York Penn Station and its neighboring subway stations. Passengers traveling from Midtown East will enjoy easier access to JFK International Airport via the AirTrain at LIRR’s Jamaica Station.

When completed, East Side Access will serve approximately 162,000 customers a day, providing them with a faster and easier commute from Long Island and Queens to the east side of Manhattan in a new eight-track terminal and concourse below Grand Central Terminal. For more information, construction photos and architectural renderings, please visit the East Side Access project page on AModernLI.com.