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H Street/Benning Road Overhead Catenary System (OCS) Wires Now Permanently Energized

Thursday, February 27, 2014

H Street/Benning Road Overhead Catenary System (OCS) Wires Now Permanently Energized

Public Urged to Use Caution As System Continues Safety Testing In Advance of Passenger Service

Washington, DC - The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today announced that the overhead wires on the H Street/Benning Road line are now permanently energized. The electrical system that powers the streetcar, the Overhead Catenary System (OCS), will stay fully energized as it is tested as part of the safety- and system-integration phase of the project. 

The public is reminded that streetcars on the H Street/Benning Road are powered by electricity. These streetcars will get their electricity from three substations along the line. Substations are safe, enclosed systems that send electricity to the streetcars. The western substation is located under the Hopscotch Bridge near Union Station, the midline substation is at the southwest corner of H and 12th Streets and the eastern substation is located on the grounds of the Car Barn Training Center at Benning Road and 26th Street NE. 

While powered wires and substations are safe and pose no immediate safety hazards to people, please remember the following safety tips:

  • The public, including all District service agencies and utility companies, should use caution around OCS wires and poles.
  • The overhead wire or “catenary” is energized at 750v (volts) DC. Do not attempt to climb the poles or touch or throw objects at the wires.
  • Remain 10’ away from live wires at all times.
  • Streetcar power substations are prohibited from entry for the public’s protection. Do not attempt to enter a power substation. 

The OCS system integration is one of many testing activities now underway as DDOT readies for passenger service.  The completed portions of the constructed facility are in the acceptance test, system integration test and certification phase. This multi-step process started last month and will continue as the system achieves significant milestones. It is intended to ensure that the system meets DC Streetcar standards and is certified as safe to carry passengers in mixed use traffic. The system (that is, infrastructure and vehicles) must be certified by the District and accepted by the State Safety Oversight Agency (SOA) before passenger service can begin.