Corrosion Engineering for Transit Systems


Electric Street Cars date back to the 1880s when the Richmond Union Passenger Railway successfully tested the first electric train in the United States. By the early 1900s, electric rail cars experienced a rapid expansion. Today’s light rail transit (LRT) systems provide an economical method to reduce traffic congestion. 

Most LRT systems are powered electrically. Substations with DC (direct-current) rectifiers supply electricity to the train through an overhead cable via a trolley or a pantograph. It was quickly realized in the early days of DC transit systems that both the transit utility structures and nearby buried utilities were experiencing rapid corrosion and premature failures. These failures were due to stray currents that followed an unintended path. Current passing through the motors in a train are intended to return to the substation via the rails. However, current can get off the rails and once in the earth, the current may take many paths, including nearby metallic pipelines. Stray current (sometimes called “leakage currents”—i.e., unwanted, non-designed currents) can cause rapid corrosion of buried utilities near transit systems. Stray-current corrosion occurs at the point where the current leaves the pipeline.

Utility owners that have buried utilities in the vicinity of DC transit systems should be aware of possible stray current corrosion that may be occurring on their pipelines. The best defense against stray current corrosion is making sure the transit system owner maintains their system and the utility owner does pipeline testing to verify if they are experiencing stray current corrosion.

The agencies we have worked with include Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Sacramento Regional Transit, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, Long Beach Transit, Denver Regional Transit District, Utah Transit Authority, and the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Our scope of work includes the design of stray current mitigation and testing systems, construction acceptance testing, testing during pre-revenue operations, establishment of maintenance programs, working with utility owners to mitigate stray current corrosion, and training of transit personnel to enable the transit agencies to perform long-term maintenance.  

For over 25 years, V&A has worked with transit districts and utility owners and completed multiple transit corrosion engineering projects totaling over $1M in fees. Our corrosion engineers are familiar with transit systems and the consequences of stray current corrosion.


Our pledge for World Kindness Day, November 13th


V&A Consulting Engineers is celebrating 39 years working with municipalities and private industry to maintain the life of water, wastewater, and transit systems. We are committed to sustaining our community's infrastructure. World Kindness Day is November 13th, and in celebration of our 39 years, our team is pledging to accomplish 39 (or more) Acts of Kindness before the anniversary. These include individual gestures as well as team efforts. We’ve put together a list of possibilities ranging from running errands for an over-whelmed neighbor to planting a tree or being an encouraging ear for a co-worker. We are all keeping track of our efforts and will share them on November 13th. We’re happy to share our list of suggestions, so just drop us an email if you’d like to join the movement.  

Individual Acts of Kindness (partial list)

1. Send an encouraging email. - Short and sweet can make someone’s day

2. Volunteer to run an errand for a neighbor or relative if they are under-the-weather or over-whelmed.

3. Go to Goodwill and leave a $5 on a shelf in the toy aisle. Some child and mom will be thrilled at the find.

4. Plant a tree. It’s good for our environment and life.

5. If you see your neighbor forgot trash day - wheel out the trash bins.

6. Complain less - Remaining positive in a negative situation makes you a leader.

7. Buy lemonade from a kids lemonade stand. Leave a big tip!

8. Animal shelters always need blankets and towels. If you have any old ones, call and see where to drop them off.

9. Animal shelters also need food and treats - buy a few cans or bag of dog food and drop them off.

10. Make a handmade card and surprise someone with something unexpected.

11. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

12. Make an effort to learn something new about a co-worker.

Group Acts of Kindness

Create opportunities to give acts of kindness in small or large groups. Here are a couple examples. Look for opportunities in your community, walks, runs, drives etc.

1. Hold a Teddy Bear drive. Pick a date to collect. Then donate to a hospital, police station or fire department for children in need.

2. Breast Cancer Month - October

Race for the Cure. - There are races in San Francisco, San Diego and Houston if interested.

3. Choc Hospital “Walk in the Park” presented by Disneyland. August 26, 2018.

The CHOC Walk in the Park presented by the Disneyland® Resort brings the community together for one single goal – to raise funds for health care programs, education and research for Southern California’s kids. With your favorite Disney® characters cheering you on, celebrating children has never been so fun! Fundraising minimum $95/person. There are also specially priced Park tickets - $61. one day, one park or $87 one day, both parks.

4. Toys for Tots - at Christmas. Local drives in your area.


Corrosion Test Systems for Transit


V&A is conducting annual corrosion control surveys over a three-year period for Houston’s METRO light rail transit (LRT) system. The METRO LRT system is continuing to expand, with new lines and extensions opening in recent years. In addition to the ongoing measurements of stray current on the existing system, V&A has performed corrosion control testing on the new lines and line segments during construction and during the pre- and post-startup phases. This testing includes track-to-earth resistance testing for both electrically isolated and electrically interconnected track segments, holiday testing of rail boot insulators, and baseline measurements of pipe-to-soil potentials on adjacent utility pipelines. 

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