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Science Saturday - Light Rail

Arra, Lakewood Library

This weekend is the grand opening of the light rail West Rail Line.  There are lots of festivities going on to celebrate.  Here is some of the science behind the commuter train.  The train is a "bi-directional, six-axle, high-floor single articulated light rail vehicle constructed of low alloy high tensile (LAHT) steel," according to the RDT website.  What does this really mean?  The trains are made out of a type of steel that is strongerand more resistant to corrosion.  The carbon content is required to be between .05% and .25% and the steel may contain other elements such as: manganese, copper, niobium, nitrogen, nickel, vanadium, chromium, titanium, calcium and titanium.  The trains run off an AC-IGBT system.  This is a motor with a controlled amount of voltage from the DC electricity of the tracks to the AC current needed for running the four motors in each car of the train.  

Maybe RTD can model the next phase of train development off the Eco-Ride train in Japan.  Like a rollercoaster this train runs by turning potential energy into kinetic energy.  Hang onto your lunch!  Read more about the Eco-Train in the online database Science Reference Center.