Railway Overhead Conductor Systems

Understanding this topic requires some background of electric traction systems. Electric traction systems find their primary use in locomotives. It utilizes electricity and power for railway carriages. The earliest electric traction run trains used 25kV voltages AC. Later, a number of overhead lines maintaining the same voltage was constructed.

The Basics of Railway Overhead Conductor Systems

The electric traction system uses 3-phase induction motor and DC series motors. They require a high torque to maintain high velocity acceleration. Railway Overhead Conductor systems use tree types of electric traction- AC traction, DC traction and Multi System traction. The power is supplied from a conductor rail that runs overhead. The conductor rails are mainly found in railway maintenance rooms and the underground tracks. All the metros have adopted this system. The traction system uses two-pole AC lines for power transmission with 3 phase lines of 110 kV. The conductor system consists of a catenary that is the primary transporter of electric signals and energy to the train. The overhead equipment consists of feeder conductors, return conductors, earthing conductor, line feeders, and various support structures.

Types of Traction Systems

As stated above there are three types of traction systems namely, AC Traction, DC Traction and Multi System traction. Below is a study of various Traction Systems.

AC Traction System

This traction system derives its current from an overhead alternating current line. The voltages used here are 15kV and 25 kV AC. Lighter cable wires can be used for power transmission. The cost works out to be quite cheap and the weight of the wire is not much.

DC Traction System

Here the current is derived from overhead dc lines. The regularly used voltages are 3000DC and 1500DC. The pros of this system are that it carries low voltage and is simple to construct. The control mechanism for this is easy to monitor as well.

Multisystem Traction

There exists a variety of railway electrification systems. This means trains have to be frequently changed from one power system to another. The wires running overhead are switched from one voltage to another at a station so that a new locomotive can be attached and can continue onwards.

Track Electrification System

The track electrification system consists of current collectors. The current collectors are classified into Pantograph collector, Trolley collector and Bow collector.

Trolley Collector

This is generally used for trams and is suitable for low speeds.

Pantograph Collector

When there is a change in weather condition or speed, it connects the overhead conductor with the power grid of the train.

Bow collector

It is used for current collection. It is not applicable to trains.

The Railway Overhead Conductor Systems are very commonly used as they are more efficient than fuels. The system renders a higher throughput. It is capable of carrying heavier weights at faster speeds. The system also requires trained individuals to operate and maintain it. The Railways are known to provide the largest employment opportunities due to the need of personnel to operate and maintain the traction system.

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