If you’ve passed by the half-block radius area north from Metropolitan between Humboldt Street and Woodpoint Road for the past nine months you’ve been watching one of the three new substations being built as part of the L Project. But what is a substation and why do we need more?
A substation as defined by the MTA is: equipment that relays power from a utility to safely transfer it into the energy that runs the subways. For the more electrically astute: substations work by receiving high-tension alternating current, or AC, power from the utility companies, processing it through something called a “rectifier” inside of the substation, which then converts it to direct current, or DC, power which is then used to move the subways. Once upon a time the MTA used to create their own power, but in present day they rely upon local utility companies.
As for the answer of the second question, “Why do we need more substations?” The three new substations along the L are needed to run more trains and to have built-in redundancy (should any one of the substations need maintenance or have issues from the power companies). MTA New York City Transit alone consumes 2.2 billion KW-Hours of electricity annually, of which 1.8 Billion KW-Hours is traction power to move the steel-wheels on the tracks. Currently this system has a capacity of 1,100 megawatts supplied through 223 substations on more than 800 miles of third rail.
The cost of this project is $62.5M and its estimated completion date is in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Happy New Year L Train travelers from 5 a.m. on New Year’s Eve to 10 p.m. on January 2, there will be normal L service. On New Year’s Day, L trains will run a normal Sunday schedule.