Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CTrain wash is a green, clean machine

As part of reducing The City’s environmental footprint and to help reach our 30-in-30 Water Efficiency Plan, Calgary Transit makes water re-use a part of its operations.

A tunnel-style carwash uses about 150 litres of water to clean your average car. Now imagine washing a vehicle that weighs 120 tons, is 3.8 metres high and 81 metres long. That’s the size of a Calgary Transit CTrain, and it takes about 1,800 litres of water to clean it.

The good news is that Calgary Transit has a CTrain wash that recycles 90-95% of the water that’s used by collecting it into two reclaim water tanks and three settling pits that remove dirt, debris, sediment and soap.

We’re also cautious to only wash CTrains when necessary. During stretches of warm sunny days, trains remain fairly clean on the outside. However, the biggest contributing factor to a dirty train exterior may surprise you. “Carbon builds up where the CTrain makes contact with the overhead (centenary) wires, and that actually causes the train to get dirty more than the weather does,” says Wayne Edwards, Coordinator of Transit Fleet. “We get a carbon film building up on the train, and without the right type of soap and brushes, the train won’t get clean.”

At the end of each day, every CTrain car is cleaned on the inside, and if the exterior needs a wash it’s sent through the tunnel. It takes about four minutes to wash a 3-car CTrain and the brushes sweep along the front, back and sides of the train.

When breakdowns happen at the train wash, Calgary Transit’s maintenance staff are trained to repair it, replace brushes and other parts. “The most common break down is the brushes – they get bent if the train moves too quickly through the wash,” says Edwards. Maintenance staff have even made some of their own modifications to parts to help lessen the breakage and repairs.

This unique train wash is located in the Oliver Bowen Maintenance Facility (OBMF), one of two Calgary Transit garages where CTrains are repaired, maintained and cleaned. OBMF was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating. LEED is a third-party internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.