Deutsche Bahn

Overhead Line Monitoring for Network Rail

DB ESG, in collaboration with DB Systemtechnik, will provide Network Rail with Overhead Line Monitoring Technology. This proven technology will enhance Network Rail’s existing monitoring fleet. As part of this contract, passenger rolling stock will also be used to monitor the network during normal operation.

(Derby, 6. November 2018) DB ESG is delighted to announce that it has received a new contract from Network Rail for overhead line monitoring. DB Systemtechnik will provide the overhead line monitoring equipment, which is proven and has been used by Deutsche Bahn and other operators across the world for 20 years.

The equipment is similar to that already being used by DB Systemtechnik and DB ESG for the testing and commissioning of new train fleets on UK infrastructure. The system has the capability to measure a number of interface attributes, most notably contact force, as well as contact wire height and stagger (longitudinal alignment). There are also a number of other supporting data channels that will be collected during operation.

Initially, the focus will be to deploy two monitoring systems onto Network Rail’s Mobile Electrical Network Testing, Observation and Recording (Mentor) Test Coach. 

Network Rail’s Asset Information Services team is responsible for monitoring the condition of the UK’s railway infrastructure and reporting condition exceedances to the Route Asset Managers and Maintenance teams. This delivers compliance with standards and supports maintenance planning for safe network operation.  Network Rail has a number of dedicated vehicles deployed across the network on a periodic basis, with Mentor dedicated to Overhead Line monitoring.

Following the fitment on Mentor, DB ESG will then install a single system onto a Class 390 Pendolino unit to cover a specific area of the network.  This system will provide data on a daily basis, via normal passenger train service operation.  The regular collection and assessment of asset condition data will support Network Rail’s ambition to move towards a ‘predict & prevent’ maintenance Approach.

Kevin Hope, Principal Engineer [Mobile monitoring], said: “As well as enabling a transition to more predictive maintenance regimes, this contract is the starting point for Network Rail’s strategy to use in-service passenger vehicles to make dynamic measurements of the Overhead Line at linespeed, something that isn’t possible using just Mentor, which is limited to 100mph. In addition, the use of EN compliant systems will also enable commissioning of new OLE infrastructure in accordance with the TSI.”

The monitoring system will measure the force between the contact wire and pantograph carbon strips, via high fidelity sensors mounted directly to the pantograph head. All sensors will be subject to a thorough calibration process at DBST’s laboratory in Munich, Germany, before they are deployed in the UK.

The programme will see the Mentor systems operational towards the end of 2019, with the Class 390 deployment scheduled for a few months later.  All three systems will be fundamentally the same, however additional equipment will be fitted onto the Class 390 unit, to allow for the tilting capabilities of this fleet.

Nick Goodhand, Managing Director at DB ESG, said: “This is a landmark project for us and we recognise the important role that the DB Systemtechnik system will play in supporting Network Rail’s asset management team.”

Christoph Kirschinger, Managing Director Sales, DB Systemtechnik said: We are very proud that Network Rail has selected DB Systemtechnk’s technology. This demonstrates the leading, global expertise of our overhead line monitoring system. We look forward to providing Network Rail with the many benefits of this new system.”

One of the key infrastructure to vehicle interfaces is the contact between the overhead line and the train’s pantograph, because traction energy is supplied via this interface, on-going, correct operation is essential for maintaining service performance. Failures at this interface can be catastrophic, with extensive service disruption and significant financial consequences.