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Signs of Construction: Overhead Catenary System and Messenger Wire Power Light RailThe first of the Overhead Catenary System (OCS) poles along the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail have been installed near the Iliff Station. These poles are essential to energizing the light rail trains through the wires both above and below the tracks.
Near the corridor, there is a warehouse where these poles and additional electrical/systems equipment are stored and prefabricated. This warehouse serves as a staging area where engineers assemble the equipment before it is taken onsite and put into place.
You may see the OCS poles while driving adjacent to the corridor and think that they are all the same. However, each one is in fact different. Each OCS pole has design specifications unique to its location. There are a total of 591 poles along the 10.5 miles of light rail, measuring about 25 feet in height and weighing about 2,000 pounds each.
Connected to the OCS poles are messenger and contact wires, which work together to distribute approximately 750 volts of power. There will eventually be a total of 234,000 feet of wire throughout the corridor, equivalent to the length of 650 football fields. Not only do the wires above the track play an important role in energizing the trains, the wires below the track, referred to as "signal cables," do as well. They serve as the main communication control for the trains.
From the OCS poles to the wiring both above and below the trains, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the electrification of the trains. Watch this video to learn more about the system that powers the train.