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New Tech Keeps Rail Crossings Running

June 12, 2024

By Ryan LaFontaine

AUSTIN — As hurricane season gets underway, TxDOT and several rail companies have developed a plan to keep railroad crossings operating during severe weather and power outages.  

Red locomotive train

The installation of hundreds of new fuel cell, back-up power systems at rail crossings in coastal areas will keep warning devices, such as signals and gates, running during power outages in Texas.

Under the federal Railway Highway Crossing Program, TxDOT has funded 413 rail crossings maintained by BNSF Railway Company.

TxDOT funded an additional 280 rail crossings under the federal program, including 131 maintained by Union Pacific Railroad, 139 maintained by Rio Valley Switching Company, and 10 maintained by Border Pacific Railroad.

“Safety is the most important benefit of the fuel cell back up power system TxDOT considers under the FHWA Railway Highway Crossing Program,” said Kai Zhao, TxDOT’s rail crossing section director. “The fuel cell back up power system also provides reliability and sustainability benefits.”

The fuel cell back up power systems installed or scheduled for the crossings maintained by BNSF, Border Pacific Railroad, and Rio Valley Switch Company are propane fuel cell generators.

The fuel cell back up power systems scheduled for the crossings maintained by Union Pacific Railroad are hydrogen fuel cell generators.

Railroads chose which technology to use since the railroad companies maintain the equipment.

Author: KSST Webmaster

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