Old 04-01-2006, 05:44 PM   #1
John Fladung
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Question Trains and Lightning

Looking through some pictures on the database that had lightning and other storm conditions made me wonder how or if trains are at all affected by lightning. Diesel locomotives obviously are nothing more than big diesel generators producing electricity for their power, made me wonder if a direct lightning strike would cause damage or fire on an loco (there is a lot of metal on these as well).

Just something I'm curious about!
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Old 04-01-2006, 05:51 PM   #2
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My guess is that it would dissipate through the ground. I'm sure the manufacteurers have a solution
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Old 04-01-2006, 05:52 PM   #3
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I would guess it would get to the ground, but I'm wondering how much damage and if the crew would be harmed at all in the process of the lightning strike getting to the ground...
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Old 04-01-2006, 06:02 PM   #4
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If anyone got hurt it would have been on the news. I assume they use the same technologies as cars do. Piece of rubber dragging on the ground/rail?
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Old 04-01-2006, 08:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Diesel locomotives obviously are nothing more than big diesel generators producing electricity for their power, made me wonder if a direct lightning strike would cause damage or fire on an loco (there is a lot of metal on these as well).
It seems to me that something like that would probably kick the ground relay. That would be my first guess, plus the general damage associated with a lightning strike.
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Old 04-02-2006, 12:30 AM   #6
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Heres an artical from the February 2004 issue of Trains Magazine that addresses this question regarding lightning and trains. It was featured in the "Ask Trains" collum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Larsen of Trains Magazine. Feb. 2004
"...Railroad cars and locomotives typically aren't a good path for these charges to flow because they often are relatively low in profile compared with surrounding objects and do not offer a low-resistant path for the current to flow. To be struck by lighting, they would have to be located where the positve charge in the earth is located...of course, steel cars, locomotives, and rails are good conductors of electricity, but the rails are relatively well insulated from the ground by the crossties and ballest...It is impossible to predict how or to what extent a locomotive might be damaged by a lightning strike. The steel shell of the locomotive may act as what enginners call a Faraday cage, protecting internal electrical components from harm. In one case of a known strike, the engine crew just reset the controls and resumed their journey. In another case, the locomotive's main generator was damaged, rendering the unit inoperative. Fortunately in such a strike, crew members would suffer no harm unless they happened to be stepping off the locomotive at the precise moment the lightning hits. -Ed Larsen
Hope this helps.
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Old 04-02-2006, 12:38 AM   #7
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It's perfect.
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Old 04-02-2006, 01:18 AM   #8
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Thanks BNSF SAMMY that is exactly what I was looking for! It's articles like that, that want me to get a subscription to TRAINS.

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