Railway electrification system

A railway electrification system supplies electric power to railway trains and trams without an on-board prime mover or local fuel supply. Electric railways use either electric locomotives (hauling passengers or freight in separate cars) or electric multiple units (passenger cars with their own motors). Electricity is typically generated in large and relatively efficient generating stations, transmitted to the railway network and distributed to the trains. Some electric railways have their own dedicated generating stations and transmission lines, but most purchase power from an electric utility. The railway usually provides its own distribution lines, switches, and transformers.

Power is supplied to moving trains with a (nearly) continuous conductor running along the track that usually takes one of two forms: an overhead line, suspended from poles or towers along the track or from structure or tunnel ceilings, or a third rail mounted at track level and contacted by a sliding "pickup shoe". Both overhead wire and third-rail systems usually use the running rails as the return conductor, but some systems use a separate fourth rail for this purpose.

In comparison to the principal alternative, the diesel engine, electric railways offer substantially better energy efficiency, lower emissions, and lower operating costs. Electric locomotives are also usually quieter, more powerful, and more responsive and reliable than diesels. They have no local emissions, an important advantage in tunnels and urban areas. Some electric traction systems provide regenerative braking that turns the train's kinetic energy back into electricity and returns it to the supply system to be used by other trains or the general utility grid. While diesel locomotives burn petroleum, electricity can be generated from diverse sources, including renewable energy.[1]

Disadvantages of electric traction include: high capital costs that may be uneconomic on lightly trafficked routes, a relative lack of flexibility (since electric trains need electrified tracks or overhead wires), and a vulnerability to power interruptions.[1]

Different regions may use different supply voltages and frequencies, complicating through service and requiring greater complexity of locomotive power. The limited clearances available under overhead lines may preclude efficient double-stack container service.[1]

Railway electrification has constantly increased in the past decades, and as of 2012, electrified tracks account for nearly one third of total tracks globally.[2]

R160A E Train entering World Trade Center
The New York City Subway is the world's largest single operator rapid transit system by number of stations served, utilizing hundreds of miles of electrified track.


Europe rail electrification en
Electrification systems in Europe:
  750 V DC
  1.5 kV DC
  3 kV DC
High speed lines in France, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey operate under 25 kV, as do high power lines in the former Soviet Union as well.

Electrification systems are classified by three main parameters:

Selection of an electrification system is based on economics of energy supply, maintenance, and capital cost compared to the revenue obtained for freight and passenger traffic. Different systems are used for urban and intercity areas; some electric locomotives can switch to different supply voltages to allow flexibility in operation.

Standardised voltages

Six of the most commonly used voltages have been selected for European and international standardisation. Some of these are independent of the contact system used, so that, for example, 750 V DC may be used with either third rail or overhead lines.

There are many other voltage systems used for railway electrification systems around the world, and the list of railway electrification systems covers both standard voltage and non-standard voltage systems.

The permissible range of voltages allowed for the standardised voltages is as stated in standards BS EN 50163[3] and IEC 60850.[4] These take into account the number of trains drawing current and their distance from the substation.

Electrification system Voltage
Min. non-permanent Min. permanent Nominal Max. permanent Max. non-permanent
600 V DC 400 V 400 V 600 V 720 V 800 V
750 V DC 500 V 500 V 750 V 900 V 1,000 V
1,500 V DC 1,000 V 1,000 V 1,500 V 1,800 V 1,950 V
3 kV DC 2 kV 2 kV 3 kV 3.6 kV 3.9 kV
15 kV AC, 16.7 Hz 11 kV 12 kV 15 kV 17.25 kV 18 kV
25 kV AC, 50 Hz (EN 50163)
and 60 Hz (IEC 60850)
17.5 kV 19 kV 25 kV 27.5 kV 29 kV

Direct current

Increasing availability of high-voltage semiconductors may allow the use of higher and more efficient DC voltages that heretofore have only been practical with AC.[5]

Overhead systems

NET tram 201-03
Nottingham Express Transit in the United Kingdom uses a 750 V DC overhead, in common with most modern tram systems.

1,500 V DC is used in Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong (parts), Republic of Ireland, Australia (parts), France (also using 25 kV 50 Hz AC), New Zealand (Wellington), Singapore (on the North East MRT Line), the United States (Chicago area on the Metra Electric district and the South Shore Line interurban line and in Seattle, Washington – Sound Transit light-rail lines). In Slovakia, there are two narrow-gauge lines in the High Tatras (one a cog railway). In the Netherlands it is used on the main system, alongside 25 kV on the HSL-Zuid and Betuwelijn, and 3000 V south of Maastricht. In Portugal, it is used in the Cascais Line and in Denmark on the suburban S-train system (1650 V DC).

In the United Kingdom, 1,500 V DC was used in 1954 for the Woodhead trans-Pennine route (now closed); the system used regenerative braking, allowing for transfer of energy between climbing and descending trains on the steep approaches to the tunnel. The system was also used for suburban electrification in East London and Manchester, now converted to 25 kV AC. It is now only used for the Tyne and Wear Metro. In India, 1,500 V DC was the first electrification system launched in 1925 in Mumbai area. Between 2012-2016, the electrification was converted to 25 kV 50 Hz AC which is the countrywide system.

3 kV DC is used in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Chile, the northern portion of the Czech Republic, the former republics of the Soviet Union, and the Netherlands (from south of the city of Maastricht to the Belgium border, which is currently exclusively used by the Belgium NMBS rail company). It was formerly used by the Milwaukee Road from Harlowton, Montana, to Seattle-Tacoma, across the Continental Divide and including extensive branch and loop lines in Montana, and by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (now New Jersey Transit, converted to 25 kV AC) in the United States, and the Kolkata suburban railway (Bardhaman Main Line) in India, before it was converted to 25 kV 50 Hz AC.

DC voltages between 600 V and 800 V are used by most tramways (streetcars), trolleybus networks and underground (subway) systems.

Overhead systems with linear motor

See overhead systems with linear motor

Third rail

Derde rail
A bottom-contact third rail on the Amsterdam Metro, Netherlands
Top contact pickup shoe
With top-contact third (and fourth) rail a heavy shoe attached to the underside of a wooden beam which in turn is attached to the bogie, collects power by sliding over the top surface of the conductor rail.
Arcing pickup shoe
Arcs like this are normal and occur when the collection shoes of a train drawing power reach the end of a section of power rail.

Most electrification systems use overhead wires, but third rail is an option up to 1,500 V, as is the case with Shenzhen Metro Line 3. Third rail systems exclusively use DC distribution. The use of AC is not feasible because the dimensions of a third rail are physically very large compared with the skin depth that the alternating current penetrates to 0.3 millimetres or 0.012 inches in a steel rail. This effect makes the resistance per unit length unacceptably high compared with the use of DC.[6] Third rail is more compact than overhead wires and can be used in smaller-diameter tunnels, an important factor for subway systems.

Fourth rail

London Underground track at Ealing Common on the District line, showing the third and fourth rails beside and between the running rails
1973 Stock at Acton Town
London Underground track at Acton Town on the Piccadilly line, showing the third and fourth rails beside and between the running rails

The London Underground in England is one of the few networks that uses a four-rail system. The additional rail carries the electrical return that, on third rail and overhead networks, is provided by the running rails. On the London Underground, a top-contact third rail is beside the track, energized at +420 V DC, and a top-contact fourth rail is located centrally between the running rails at −210 V DC, which combine to provide a traction voltage of 630 V DC. The same system was used for Milan's earliest underground line, Milan Metro's line 1, whose more recent lines use an overhead catenary or a third rail.

The key advantage of the four-rail system is that neither running rail carries any current. This scheme was introduced because of the problems of return currents, intended to be carried by the earthed (grounded) running rail, flowing through the iron tunnel linings instead. This can cause electrolytic damage and even arcing if the tunnel segments are not electrically bonded together. The problem was exacerbated because the return current also had a tendency to flow through nearby iron pipes forming the water and gas mains. Some of these, particularly Victorian mains that predated London's underground railways, were not constructed to carry currents and had no adequate electrical bonding between pipe segments. The four-rail system solves the problem. Although the supply has an artificially created earth point, this connection is derived by using resistors which ensures that stray earth currents are kept to manageable levels. Power-only rails can be mounted on strongly insulating ceramic chairs to minimise current leak, but this is not possible for running rails which have to be seated on stronger metal chairs to carry the weight of trains. However, elastomeric rubber pads placed between the rails and chairs can now solve part of the problem by insulating the running rails from the current return should there be a leakage through the running rails.

Linear motor

An S-series northbound train at Lawrence East station. Note the slab between the running rails.

Bombardier Innovia Metro systems run on conventional metal rails and pull power from a third rail, but are powered by a linear induction motor that provides traction by pulling on a "fourth rail" placed between the running rails. The Vancouver SkyTrain is the largest such system in operation with just under 50 km (30 mi) of track along the Expo and Millennium lines.

In the case of Scarborough Line 3, the third and fourth rails are outside the track and the fifth rail is an aluminum slab between the running rails.

Rubber-tyred systems

Atelier Fontenay - MP 05 - Bogie avant
The bogie of an MP 05, showing the flanged steel wheel inside the rubber-tyred one, as well as the vertical contact shoe on top of the steel rail
Bogie from an MP 89 Paris Métro vehicle. The lateral contact shoe is located between the rubber tyres

A few lines of the Paris Métro in France operate on a four-rail power system. The trains move on rubber tyres which roll on a pair of narrow roll ways made of steel and, in some places, of concrete. Since the tyres do not conduct the return current, the two guide bars provided outside the running 'roll ways' become, in a sense, a third and fourth rail which each provide 750 V DC, so at least electrically it is a four-rail system. Each wheel set of a powered bogie carries one traction motor. A side sliding (side running) contact shoe picks up the current from the vertical face of each guide bar. The return of each traction motor, as well as each wagon, is effected by one contact shoe each that slide on top of each one of the running rails. This and all other rubber-tyred metros that have a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge track between the roll ways operate in the same manner.[7][8]

Alternating current

Railway electrification system
Image of a sign for high voltage above a railway electrification system

Railways and electrical utilities use AC for the same reason: to use transformers, which require AC, to produce higher voltages. The higher the voltage, the lower the current for the same power, which reduces line loss, thus allowing higher power to be delivered.

Because alternating current is used with high voltages, this method of electrification is only used on overhead lines, never on third rails. Inside the locomotive, a transformer steps the voltage down for use by the traction motors and auxiliary loads.

An early advantage of AC is that the power-wasting resistors used in DC locomotives for speed control were not needed in an AC locomotive: multiple taps on the transformer can supply a range of voltages. Separate low-voltage transformer windings supply lighting and the motors driving auxiliary machinery. More recently, the development of very high power semiconductors has caused the classic DC motor to be largely replaced with the three-phase induction motor fed by a variable frequency drive, a special inverter that varies both frequency and voltage to control motor speed. These drives can run equally well on DC or AC of any frequency, and many modern electric locomotives are designed to handle different supply voltages and frequencies to simplify cross-border operation.

Low-frequency alternating current

15 kV 16.7 Hz AC system used in Switzerland

Five European countries, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden, have standardized on 15 kV ​16 23 Hz (the 50 Hz mains frequency divided by three) single-phase AC. On 16 October 1995, Germany, Austria and Switzerland changed from ​16 23 Hz to 16.7 Hz which is no longer exactly one-third of the grid frequency. This solved overheating problems with the rotary converters used to generate some of this power from the grid supply.[9]

In the UK, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway pioneered overhead electrification of its suburban lines in London, London Bridge to Victoria being opened to traffic on 1 December 1909. Victoria to Crystal Palace via Balham and West Norwood opened in May 1911. Peckham Rye to West Norwood opened in June 1912. Further extensions were not made owing to the First World War. Two lines opened in 1925 under the Southern Railway serving Coulsdon North and Sutton railway station.[10][11] The lines were electrified at 6.7 kV 25 Hz. It was announced in 1926 that all lines were to be converted to DC third rail and the last overhead electric service ran in September 1929.

Non-contact systems

It is possible to supply power to an electric train by inductive coupling. This allows the use of a high-voltage, insulated, conductor rail. Such a system was patented in 1894 by Nikola Tesla, U.S. Patent 514,972. It requires the use of high-frequency alternating current. Tesla did not specify a frequency but George Trinkaus[12] suggests that around 1,000 Hz would be likely.

Inductive coupling is widely used in low-power applications, such as re-chargeable electric toothbrushes and more recently, mobile telephones and wearable computing devices (inductive charging).

Energy efficiency

Electric versus diesel

Dartford Junction - geograph.org.uk - 198168
An early rail electrification substation at Dartford

Electric trains need not carry the weight of prime movers, transmission and fuel. This is partly offset by the weight of electrical equipment.

Regenerative braking returns power to the electrification system so that it may be used elsewhere, by other trains on the same system or returned to the general power grid. This is especially useful in mountainous areas where heavily loaded trains must descend long grades.

Central station electricity can often be generated with higher efficiency than a mobile engine/generator. While the efficiency of power plant generation and diesel locomotive generation are roughly the same in the nominal regime,[13] diesel motors decrease in efficiency in non-nominal regimes at low power [14] while if an electric power plant needs to generate less power it will shut down its least efficient generators, thereby increasing efficiency. The electric train can save energy (as compared to diesel) by regenerative braking and by not needing to consume energy by idling as diesel locomotives do when stopped or coasting. However, electric rolling stock may run cooling blowers when stopped or coasting, thus consuming energy.

Large fossil fuel power stations operate at high efficiency,[15][16] and can be used for district heating or to produce district cooling, leading to a higher total efficiency.

AC versus DC for mainlines

Modern electrification systems take AC energy from a power grid which is delivered to a locomotive and converted to a DC voltage to be used by traction motors. These motors may either be DC motors which directly use the DC or they may be 3-phase AC motors which require further conversion of the DC to 3-phase AC (using power electronics). Thus both systems are faced with the same task: converting and transporting high-voltage AC from the power grid to low-voltage DC in the locomotive. The difference between AC and DC electrification systems lies in where the AC is converted to DC: at the substation or on the train. Energy efficiency and infrastructure costs determine which of these is used on a network, although this is often fixed due to pre-existing electrification systems. Both the transmission and conversion of electric energy involve losses: ohmic losses in wires and power electronics, magnetic field losses in transformers and smoothing reactors (inductors).[17] Power conversion for a DC system takes place mainly in a railway substation where large, heavy, and more efficient hardware can be used as compared to an AC system where conversion takes place aboard the locomotive where space is limited and losses are significantly higher.[18] Also, the energy used to blow air to cool transformers, power electronics (including rectifiers), and other conversion hardware must be accounted for.

Comparison with diesel traction

Thomas Robert Way00
Lots Road Power Station in a poster from 1910. This private power station, used by London Underground, gave London trains and trams a power supply independent from the main power network.

Electric locomotives may easily be constructed with greater power output than most diesel locomotives. For passenger operation it is possible to provide enough power with diesel engines (see e.g. 'ICE TD') but, at higher speeds, this proves costly and impractical. Therefore, almost all high speed trains are electric. The high power of electric locomotives also gives them the ability to pull freight at higher speed over gradients; in mixed traffic conditions this increases capacity when the time between trains can be decreased. The higher power of electric locomotives and an electrification can also be a cheaper alternative to a new and less steep railway if trains weights are to be increased on a system.

On the other hand, electrification may not be suitable for lines with low frequency of traffic, because lower running cost of trains may be outweighed by the high cost of the electrification infrastructure. Therefore, most long-distance lines in developing or sparsely populated countries are not electrified due to relatively low frequency of trains.

Maintenance costs of the lines may be increased by electrification, but many systems claim lower costs due to reduced wear-and-tear from lighter rolling stock.[19] There are some additional maintenance costs associated with the electrical equipment around the track, such as power sub-stations and the catenary wire itself, but, if there is sufficient traffic, the reduced track and especially the lower engine maintenance and running costs exceed the costs of this maintenance significantly.

Network effects are a large factor with electrification. When converting lines to electric, the connections with other lines must be considered. Some electrifications have subsequently been removed because of the through traffic to non-electrified lines. If through traffic is to have any benefit, time consuming engine switches must occur to make such connections or expensive dual mode engines must be used. This is mostly an issue for long distance trips, but many lines come to be dominated by through traffic from long-haul freight trains (usually running coal, ore, or containers to or from ports). In theory, these trains could enjoy dramatic savings through electrification, but it can be too costly to extend electrification to isolated areas, and unless an entire network is electrified, companies often find that they need to continue use of diesel trains even if sections are electrified. The increasing demand for container traffic which is more efficient when utilizing the double-stack car also has network effect issues with existing electrifications due to insufficient clearance of overhead electrical lines for these trains, but electrification can be built or modified to have sufficient clearance, at additional cost.

A problem specifically related to electrified lines are gaps in the electrification. Electric vehicles, especially locomotives, lose power when traversing gaps in the supply, such as phase change gaps in overhead systems, and gaps over points in third rail systems. These become a nuisance, if the locomotive stops with its collector on a dead gap, in which case there is no power to restart. Power gaps can be overcome by on-board batteries or motor-flywheel-generator systems. In 2014, progress is being made in the use of large capacitors to power electric vehicles between stations, and so avoid the need for overhead wires between those stations.[20]


  • No exposure to passengers to exhaust from the locomotive
  • Lower cost of building, running and maintaining locomotives and multiple units
  • Higher power-to-weight ratio (no onboard fuel tanks), resulting in
    • Fewer locomotives
    • Faster acceleration
    • Higher practical limit of power
    • Higher limit of speed
  • Less noise pollution (quieter operation)
  • Faster acceleration clears lines more quickly to run more trains on the track in urban rail uses
  • Reduced power loss at higher altitudes (for power loss see Diesel engine)
  • Independence of running costs from fluctuating fuel prices
  • Service to underground stations where diesel trains cannot operate for safety reasons
  • Reduced environmental pollution, especially in highly populated urban areas, even if electricity is produced by fossil fuels
  • Easily accommodates kinetic energy brake reclaim using supercapacitors
  • More comfortable ride on multiple units as trains have no underfloor diesel engines
  • Somewhat higher energy efficiency [21] in part due to regenerative braking and less power lost when "idling"
  • More flexible primary energy source: can use coal, nuclear, hydro or wind as the primary energy source instead of oil


Berwick-upon-Tweed MMB 14 Royal Border Bridge
The Royal Border Bridge in England, a protected monument. Adding electric catenary to older structures may be an expensive cost of electrification projects
DTTX 724681 20050529 IL Rochelle
Most overhead electrifications do not allow sufficient clearance for a double-stack car. Each container may be 9 ft 6 in (2,896 mm) tall and the bottom of the well is 1 ft 2 in (356 mm) above rail, making the overall height 20 ft 2 in (6,147 mm) including the well car.[22]
  • Electrification cost: electrification requires an entire new infrastructure to be built around the existing tracks at a significant cost. Costs are especially high when tunnels, bridges and other obstructions have to be altered for clearance. Another aspect that can raise the cost of electrification are the alterations or upgrades to railway signalling needed for new traffic characteristics, and to protect signalling circuitry and track circuits from interference by traction current. Electrification may require line closures while the new equipment is being installed.
  • Appearance: the overhead line structures and cabling can have a significant landscape impact compared with a non-electrified or third rail electrified line that has only occasional signalling equipment above ground level.
  • Fragility and vulnerability: overhead electrification systems can suffer severe disruption due to minor mechanical faults or the effects of high winds causing the pantograph of a moving train to become entangled with the catenary, ripping the wires from their supports. The damage is often not limited to the supply to one track, but extends to those for adjacent tracks as well, causing the entire route to be blocked for a considerable time. Third-rail systems can suffer disruption in cold weather due to ice forming on the conductor rail.[23]
  • Theft: the high scrap value of copper and the unguarded, remote installations make overhead cables an attractive target for scrap metal thieves.[24] Attempts at theft of live 25 kV cables may end in the thief's death from electrocution.[25] In the UK, cable theft is claimed to be one of the biggest sources of delay and disruption to train services — though this normally relates to signalling cable, which is equally problematic for diesel lines.[26]
  • Birds may perch on parts with different charges, and animals may also touch the electrification system. Animals fallen to the ground are fetched by foxes or other predators.[27]
  • In most of the world's railway networks, the height clearance of overhead electrical lines is not sufficient for a double-stack container car or other unusually tall loads.

World electrification

In 2006, 240,000 km (150,000 mi) (25% by length) of the world rail network was electrified and 50% of all rail transport was carried by electric traction.

In 2012 for electrified kilometers, China surpassed Russia making it first place in the world with over 48,000 km (30,000 mi) electrified.[28] Trailing behind China were Russia 43,300 km (26,900 mi), India 35,488 km (22,051 mi),[29] Germany 21,000 km (13,000 mi), Japan 17,000 km (11,000 mi), and France 15,200 km (9,400 mi).

Sparks effect

Newly electrified lines often show a "sparks effect", whereby electrification in passenger rail systems leads to significant jumps in patronage / revenue.[30] The reasons may include electric trains being seen as more modern and attractive to ride,[31][32] faster and smoother service,[30] and the fact that electrification often goes hand in hand with a general infrastructure and rolling stock overhaul / replacement, which leads to better service quality (in a way that theoretically could also be achieved by doing similar upgrades yet without electrification). Whatever the causes of the sparks effect, it is well established for numerous routes that have electrified over decades.[30][31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c P. M. Kalla-Bishop, Future Railways and Guided Transport, IPC Transport Press Ltd. 1972, pp. 8-33
  2. ^ "Railway Handbook 2015" (PDF). International Energy Agency. p. 18. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  3. ^ EN 50163: Railway applications. Supply voltages of traction systems (2007)
  4. ^ IEC 60850: Railway applications – Supply voltages of traction systems, 3rd edition (2007)
  5. ^ P. Leandes and S. Ostlund. "A concept for an HVDC traction system" in "International conference on main line railway electrification", Hessington, England, September 1989 (Suggests 30 kV). Glomez-Exposito A., Mauricio J.M., Maza-Ortega J.M. "VSC-based MVDC Railway Electrification System" IEEE transactions on power delivery, v.29, no.1, Feb.2014. (suggests 24 kV).
  6. ^ Donald G. Fink, H. Wayne Beatty Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers 11th Edition, McGraw Hill, 1978 table 18-21. See also Gomez-Exposito p.424, Fig.3
  7. ^ "[MétroPole] De la centrale électrique au rail de traction". 10 August 2004. Archived from the original on 10 August 2004.
  8. ^ Dery, Bernard. "Truck (bogie) - Visual Dictionary". www.infovisual.info.
  9. ^ Linder, C. (2002). Umstellung der Sollfrequenz im zentralen Bahnstromnetz von 16 2/3 Hz auf 16,70 Hz [Switching the frequency in train electric power supply network from 16 2/3 Hz to 16,70 Hz]. Elektrische Bahnen (in German). Oldenbourg-Industrieverlag. ISSN 0013-5437.
  10. ^ History of Southern Electrification Part 1
  11. ^ History of Southern Electrification Part 2
  12. ^ Trinkaus, George, Tesla, the lost inventions, pp 28–29, High Voltage Press, Portland, OR, 1988
  13. ^ It turns out that the efficiency of electricity generation by a modern diesel locomotive is roughly the same as the typical U.S. fossil-fuel power plant. The heat rate of central power plants in 2012 was about 9.5k BTU/kwh per the Monthly Energy Review of the U.S. Energy Information Administration which corresponds to an efficiency of 36%. Diesel motors for locomotives have an efficiency of about 40% (see Brake specific fuel consumption, Дробинский p. 65 and Иванова p.20.). But there are reductions needed in both efficiencies needed to make a comparison. First, one must degrade the efficiency of central power plants by the transmission losses to get the electricity to the locomotive. Another correction is due to the fact that efficiency for the Russian diesel is based on the lower heat of combustion of fuel while power plants in the U.S. use the higher heat of combustion (see Heat of combustion. Still another correction is that the diesel's reported efficiency neglects the fan energy used for engine cooling radiators. See Дробинский p. 65 and Иванова p.20 (who estimates the on-board electricity generator as 96.5% efficient). The result of all the above is that modern diesel engines and central power plants are both about 33% efficient at generating electricity (in the nominal regime).
  14. ^ Хомич А.З. Тупицын О.И., Симсон А.Э. "Экономия топлива и теплотехническая модернизация тепловозов" (Fuel economy and the thermodynamic modernization of diesel locomotives) - Москва: Транспорт, 1975 - 264 pp. See Brake specific fuel consumption curves on p. 202 and charts of times spent in non-nominal regimes on pp. 10-12
  15. ^ Wang, Ucilia (25 May 2011). "Gigaom GE to Crank Up Gas Power Plants Like Jet Engines". Gigaom.com. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  16. ^ [1] Archived 24 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ See Винокуров p.95+ Ch. 4: Потери и коэффициент полизного действия; нагреванние и охлаждение электрических машин и трансформаторов" (Losses and efficiency; heating and cooling of electrical machinery and transformers) magnetic losses pp.96-7, ohmic losses pp.97-9
  18. ^ Сидоров 1988 pp. 103-4, Сидоров 1980 pp. 122-3
  19. ^ "UK Network Rail electrification strategy report" Table 3.3, page 31. Retrieved on 4 May 2010
  20. ^ Railway Gazette International Oct 2014.
  21. ^ Per Railway electrification in the Soviet Union#Energy-Efficiency it was claimed that after the mid 1970s electrics used about 25% less fuel per ton-km than diesels. However, part of this savings may be due to less stopping of electrics to let opposing trains pass since diesels operated predominately on single-track lines, often with moderately heavy traffic.
  22. ^ [2] AAR Plate H
  23. ^ "Committee Meeting - Royal Meteorological Society - Spring 2009" (PDF). Royal Meteorological Society (rmets.org). Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  24. ^ "Network Rail - Cable Theft". Network Rail (www.networkrail.co.uk). Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  25. ^ "Police probe cable theft death link". ITV News. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  26. ^ Sarah Saunders (28 June 2012). "Body discovery linked to rail cables theft". ITV News. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  27. ^ Nachmann, Lars. "Tiere & Pflanzen Vögel Gefährdungen Stromtod Mehr aus dieser Rubrik Vorlesen Die tödliche Gefahr". Naturschutzbund (in German). Berlin, Germany. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  28. ^ See "Peoples Daily Online" (in English, newspaper) 5 December 2012 China's electric railway mileage exceeds 48,000 km
  29. ^ "Ministry of Railways (Railway Board)". www.indianrailways.gov.in.
  30. ^ a b c "Start Slow With Bullet Trains". Miller-McCune. 2 May 2011. Archived from the original on 28 January 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  31. ^ a b "Cumbernauld may be on track for railway line electrification". Cumbernauld News. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  32. ^ "Electric Idea". Bromsgrove Advertiser. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2012.




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  • Перцовский, Л. М.; "Энргетическая эффективность электрической тяги" (Energy efficiency of electric traction), Железнодорожный транспорт (magazine), #12, 1974 p. 39+
  • Плакс, А.В. & Пупынин, В. Н., "Электрические железные дороги" (Electric Railways), Москва "Транспорт" 1993.
  • Сидоров Н.И., Сидорожа Н.Н. "Как устроен и работает эелктровоз" (How the electric locomotive works) Москва, Транспорт, 1988 (5th ed.) - 233 pp, ISBN 978-5-277-00191-2. 1980 (4th ed.).
  • Хомич А.З. Тупицын О.И., Симсон А.Э. "Экономия топлива и теплотехническая модернизация тепловозов" (Fuel economy and the thermodynamic modernization of diesel locomotives) - Москва: Транспорт, 1975 - 264 pp.

External links

1912 in rail transport

This article lists events related to rail transport that occurred in 1912.

Colenso Power Station

Colenso Power Station was a coal-fired power station, located in Colenso on the banks of the Tugela River. It was built in the 1920s by the South African Railways to supply electricity for the railways, and was subsequently sold to the Electricity Supply Commission (Eskom).

County of Fontao

The County of Fontao is a title of Spanish nobility granted on January 8, 1840 by the Queen Isabella II to Don José María Moscoso y Quiroga, first President of the Senate of Spain after the creation of this upper chamber in 1837. His name refers to the Galician old “Señorio” (Lordship) of Fontao situated in the province of Lugo.

Famous members include the 1st Count who was President of the Cortes and then Minister of the Police to King Ferdinand VII during the Trienio Liberal and later Minister of Public Works to Queen Isabella II and the first President of the Senate when this chamber was created in 1837. Other famous members include his great grandson, the 4th Count, Don José Moreno Osorio, prestigious railway engineer who was president and general manager of the North Rail Transportation Company and after the Spanish Civil War, vice president of RENFE, the Spanish national railway and “Gentilhombre de camara” (Gentleman of the Bedchamber) to the King Alfonso XIII. He was, in fact, the engineer who, during the decade of 1920 brought from United States to Spain the techniques of the railway electrification system. The latter's son, the 5th Count, Don Alfredo Moreno Uribe, was also vice president of RENFE. The nephew of the latter, the present and 8th Count is Don Jose Manuel Romero Moreno, also 10th Marquis of San Saturnino. The 8th Count is the legal counsellor of the household and family of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. Equally, he is the president of the CEAR and the vice president of the FRIDE Foundations. He is institutional member of the Club of Madrid and member of the Board of the Trustees of Patrimonio Nacional.

Electric train

An electric train is a train powered by electricity. Relevant topics include:

Electric locomotive

Electric multiple unit

Battery electric multiple unit

Railway electrification system


Electric transportation technology

Electric transportation technology is:

technology used in vehicles that use an electric motor for all or part of the motive power of the vehicles, including battery electric, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, fuel cell, and plug-in fuel cell vehicles, or rail transportation; or

equipment relating to transportation or mobile sources of air pollution that use an electric motor to replace an internal combustion engine (ICE) for all or part of the work of the equipment, including :

corded electric equipment linked to transportation or mobile sources of air pollution; and

electrification technologies at airports, ports, truck stops, and material-handling facilities.

Fyodor Pirotsky

Fyodor Apollonovich Pirotsky (Russian: Фёдор Аполлонович Пироцкий; February 17 [O.S. March 1] 1845- February 28 [O.S. March 12] 1898) was a Russian engineer of Ukrainian origin and inventor of the world's first railway electrification system and electric tram. While the commercialization of his inventions in Russia was relatively slow, Pirotsky is known to have met with Carl Heinrich von Siemens and influenced Siemens' eventual introduction of the first regular electric tram line (for the Berlin Straßenbahn).

Grimsel Tunnel

The Grimsel Tunnel (German: Grimseltunnel) is a proposed 22-kilometre (14 mi) tunnel for power transmission and rail transport in Switzerland. As of 2016 it was planned to run under the Grimsel Pass and link the Zentralbahn at the north end with the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn at the south, with planned opening in approximately 2025. The Canton of Bern, Canton of Valais, and Swissgrid unveiled their joint plans on 4 February 2016.The tunnel is proposed to carry a single-track metre gauge railway and railway electrification system. The total length of the new Grimsel Line (German: Grimselbahn) route containing the tunnel would be 22 kilometres (14 mi). It would link two groups of existing railway lines constructed to one-metre track gauge in Switzerland, forming a contiguous route of 844 kilometres (524 mi).

The power transmission cables would run at 380kV and replace Swissgrid's existing overhead power line, and allow the removal of the 121 electricity pylons that had been in place for sixty years.The intended railway route would continue from the Brünig railway line at Meiringen railway station, via the Meiringen–Innertkirchen railway, to a stop at Innertkirchen, then via new stations at Guttannen and Handegg (Handeck) to Oberwald railway station for continuation via the Furka Base Tunnel. Travel time between Meiringen and Oberwald would be approximately 38 minutes—a reduction of three hours.A company called Grimselbahn AG was founded by the promoters, with Peter Teuscher as its chair person.In 2016 the estimated cost was 580-million Swiss Francs. The split cost of 290-million Swiss Francs each for railway and power transmission usage would less than the individual estimated costs of 490-million Swiss Francs for a power-only tunnel or 430-million Swiss Francs for a rail-only tunnel.

The tunnel route had first been proposed in 1860.

Guiyang Metro

Guiyang Metro is a rapid transit system in the city of Guiyang, Guizhou province in China operated and branded as Guiyang Urban Rail Transit (GYURT). A short northern section of Line 1 opened on 28 December 2017, with the full line entering operation on 1 December 2018. Line 2 is due to open at the end of 2020 and Line 3 in 2022 or 2023. Line 4 and also lines G1, S1, S2, S3 and S4 are in the planning stage.

Multi-system (rail)

A Multi-system locomotive, also known as a multi-system electric locomotive, multi-system electric multiple unit, or multi-system train, is an electric locomotive which can operate using more than one railway electrification system. Multi-system trains provide continuous journeys over routes which are electrified using more than one system.

Nanjing–Tongling railway

Nanjing–Tongling railway or Ningtong railway (simplified Chinese: 宁铜铁路; traditional Chinese: 寧銅鐵路; pinyin: níngtóng tiělù), is a single-track railroad in eastern China between Nanjing in Jiangsu Province and Tongling in Anhui Province. The line is 208 km (129 mi) long. Major towns along route include Nanjing, Maanshan, Wuhu and Tongling.

Outline of rail transport

Rail transport – means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks consisting of steel rails installed on sleepers/ties and ballast.

Pantograph (transport)

A pantograph (or "pan", or "panto") is an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train, tram or electric bus to collect power through contact with an overhead line. It is a common type of current collector. Typically, a single or double wire is used, with the return current running through the track. The term stems from the resemblance of some styles to the mechanical pantographs used for copying handwriting and drawings.

Power cable

A power cable is an electrical cable, an assembly of one or more electrical conductors, usually held together with an overall sheath. The assembly is used for transmission of electrical power. Power cables may be installed as permanent wiring within buildings, buried in the ground, run overhead, or exposed.

Flexible power cables are used for portable devices, mobile tools, and machinery.

Rail transport

Rail transport or train transport is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles run on a prepared flat surface, rail vehicles (rolling stock) are directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. Tracks usually consist of steel rails, installed on ties (sleepers) set in ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves. Other variations are also possible, such as slab track. This is where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface.

Rolling stock in a rail transport system generally encounters lower frictional resistance than rubber-tired road vehicles, so passenger and freight cars (carriages and wagons) can be coupled into longer trains. The operation is carried out by a railway company, providing transport between train stations or freight customer facilities. Power is provided by locomotives which either draw electric power from a railway electrification system or produce their own power, usually by diesel engines. Most tracks are accompanied by a signalling system. Railways are a safe land transport system when compared to other forms of transport. Railway transport is capable of high levels of passenger and cargo utilization and energy efficiency, but is often less flexible and more capital-intensive than road transport, when lower traffic levels are considered.

The oldest known, man/animal-hauled railways date back to the 6th century BC in Corinth, Greece. Rail transport then commenced in mid 16th century in Germany in the form of horse-powered funiculars and wagonways. Modern rail transport commenced with the British development of the steam locomotives in the early 19th century. Thus the railway system in Great Britain is the oldest in the world. Built by George Stephenson and his son Robert's company Robert Stephenson and Company, the Locomotion No. 1 is the first steam locomotive to carry passengers on a public rail line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. George Stephenson also built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use only the steam locomotives all the time, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. With steam engines, one could construct mainline railways, which were a key component of the Industrial Revolution. Also, railways reduced the costs of shipping, and allowed for fewer lost goods, compared with water transport, which faced occasional sinking of ships. The change from canals to railways allowed for "national markets" in which prices varied very little from city to city. The spread of the railway network and the use of railway timetables, led to the standardisation of time (railway time) in Britain based on Greenwich Mean Time. Prior to this, major towns and cities varied their local time relative to GMT. The invention and development of the railway in the United Kingdom was one of the most important technological inventions of the 19th century. The world's first underground railway, the Metropolitan Railway (part of the London Underground), opened in 1863.

In the 1880s, electrified trains were introduced, leading to electrification of tramways and rapid transit systems. Starting during the 1940s, the non-electrified railways in most countries had their steam locomotives replaced by diesel-electric locomotives, with the process being almost complete by the 2000s. During the 1960s, electrified high-speed railway systems were introduced in Japan and later in some other countries. Many countries are in the process of replacing diesel locomotives with electric locomotives, mainly due to environmental concerns, a notable example being Switzerland, which has completely electrified its network. Other forms of guided ground transport outside the traditional railway definitions, such as monorail or maglev, have been tried but have seen limited use.

Following a decline after World War II due to competition from cars and airplanes, rail transport has had a revival in recent decades due to road congestion and rising fuel prices, as well as governments investing in rail as a means of reducing CO2 emissions in the context of concerns about global warming.

Rome–Naples high-speed railway

The Rome–Naples high-speed railway line is a link in the Italian high-speed rail network. It opened from Roma Termini to Gricignano di Aversa on 19 December 2005. The final 25 kilometres (16 miles) from Gricignano to Napoli Centrale opened on 13 December 2009. When the line is completed trains will take 1 hour and 10 minutes between the two cities. The line is part of Corridor 1 of the European Union's Trans-European high-speed rail network, which connects Berlin and Palermo.

Construction of the line began in 1994. Between 2004 and 2005 a series of tests was carried out prior to the line being opened for commercial operations, to obtain approval for the line to be regularly operated at up to 300 km/h (190 mph). During these tests an ETR 500 train achieved a speed of 347 km/h (216 mph). These speeds were made possible by the line's 25 kV AC railway electrification system (rather than the traditional Italian use of 3 kV DC), and the new signaling, control and train protection system provided by the European Rail Traffic Management System/European Train Control System (ETCS). It was the first railway line in Italy to be electrified at 25 kV AC at 50 Hz and the first in the world to use ETCS Level 2 in normal rail operations.

The first 193 kilometres (120 miles) of the line was brought into service on 19 December 2005. The new line begins near Roma Prenestina station (4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) from Roma Termini) and ends at Gricignano di Aversa, where a connecting line leads to the Rome-Naples via Formia line, which is used for the last 25 kilometres (16 miles) to reach Napoli Centrale station. The line features three other interconnections that link with the historical Rome-Naples via Cassino line, near Anagni, Cassino and Caserta.

On 13 December 2009, work was completed on the last 18 km line of the line between Gricignano and Napoli Centrale. This includes the Napoli Afragola station, which was due to be open in 2009 when the construction contract was first awarded, but tenders had to be called again and construction was put on hold. Construction was delayed on several occasions and did not get fully under was until 2015. It was opened on 6 June 2017, with regular traffic for passengers starting from 11 June 2017. The station is planned to provide interchange at Afragola station with the Circumvesuviana line in 2022, once that line has been reconstructed.

The Naples–Salerno high-speed railway (also known as the Linea a Monte del Vesuvio—"line up Mount Vesuvius") was completed in June 2008 to allow high-speed trains to and from Salerno and the south to bypass Napoli Centrale station. When the Rome–Naples high-speed line is fully open the length of the high-speed section will be about 205 kilometres (127 miles). The connecting line to Gricignano di Aversa is now not used for normal operations.The longest tunnel on the line through the Alban Hills is 6,725 metres (4 miles) long. The minimum radius of curves is 5,450 metres (5,960 yards) and the centres of the running lines are 5 metres (16 feet 5 inches) apart. The maximum gradient of the line is 21 per thousand.


Rb is an electric locomotive operated by Swedish State Railways (Swedish: Statens Järnvägar, SJ). Six locomotives were built by ASEA, in three series designated Rb1, Rb2 or Rb3.

Suburban electrification of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) was involved in the development of railway electrification of Britain. Like the LNER and the SR the LMS took over several schemes that had been developed by its constituent companies and also completed some of its own. All were suburban lines, in London, Liverpool and Manchester, and were usually steam lines converted to electric traction. Each service is listed below, showing dates of opening and the railway responsible for its conversion.

Traction powerstation

A traction power station is a power station that produces only traction current, that is, electric current used for railways, trams, trolleybuses or other conveyances. Pure traction power stations are rare and there are many more power stations that generate current for other purposes, such as standard three-phase alternating current (AC), in addition to traction current.

Traction substation

A traction substation, traction current converter plant or traction power substation (TPSS) is an electrical substation that converts electric power from the form provided by the electrical power industry for public utility service to an appropriate voltage, current type and frequency to supply railways, trams (streetcars) or trolleybuses with traction current.

Railway electrification
By country
and track
and safety
and structures


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