nVent Heating Solutions for Third Rail Electrification

During the recent polar vortex that brought temperatures as low as -60 F through the upper Midwest of North America, there were many news stories highlighting the extreme measures railways take to keep tracks clear of snow and ice buildup.

East Midlands Train

DMU in snowy conditions. Photo credIt: Matt Buck (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Switches are one of the most critical aspects of rail infrastructure, which is why switch heating solutions are often the focus when describing how railways operate in extreme cold, snow and ice. There are, however, other areas of track infrastructure that equally critical to safety and reliability that railways account for as part of a winter operational plan.

Third rail (also called contact rail), for example, provides electrical traction power that propels rail vehicles in many types of passenger rail networks throughout the world. Third rail could be susceptible to loss of traction due to snow and ice-buildup, leading to major service disruptions that could leave passenger stranded. In addition to rail switch heating, nVent offers heating solutions for other critical rail infrastructure, including an innovative line of heating systems specifically designed for third rail electrification.

Third Rail Electrification, Critical Infrastructure for Passenger Transit Systems

Third rail electrification is typically used in rapid transit systems (subways and other urban metros), which include over 150 networks throughout the world, spanning over 10,000 track miles. In third rail electric systems, the third rail (also called a contact rail) is a power conductor that transmits energy to the train, providing traction power for propulsion. Third rail  is usually located on the outside (and running parallel to) the two running rails. Trains are equipped with a sliding ‘pickup shoe’ that transmits energy from the third rail to the train. The ‘shoe’ maintains continuous contact with the third rail, and does so with the help of gravity reinforced pressure from springs. If contact between the ‘pickup shoe’ and the third rail is broken, the train will lose power. There are several types of contact positions in third rail electrification, including the most common where the shoe makes contact with the top or bottom of the third rail, but there are also side contact configurations and other various contact assemblies.

Heating Solutions for Third Rail Electrification

Contact Rail Heater Diagram

Snow and ice build-up can disrupt contact between the third rail (conductor) and ‘pickup shoe,’ which can reduce efficiency, or entirely prevent contact leaving trains stalled. This problem is prominent in rail yards, areas with steep inclines/declines and near stations. Third rail systems with top contact are more prone to snow and ice-buildup, although large quantities of snow can disrupt operations in other configurations as well. Some networks operate de-icing trains that dispense melting chemicals, however, many networks lack a dedicated process for keeping third rails clear in winter conditions. Innovative third rail heating systems from nVent RAYCHEM are the perfect solution for rapid transits with third rail electrification operating in regions where winter weather can disrupt service.

With solutions that include both self-regulating and power limiting heating technologies, nVent third rail heating systems are energy efficient, while providing robust heating power capable of melting ice in even the harshest conditions.  nVent third rail heating solutions can be applied to both top contact and bottom contact transmission systems, as well as various third rail profiles, including 84 C, 85 C, 150 lbs., and the new stainless steel clad aluminum construction. nVent RAYCHEM has supplied New York City with 1.5 million feet of third rail heating systems, trusted to prevent delays and disruptions in a rapid transit system that serves approximately six million riders every day. nVent third rail heating systems are available with state-of-the-art controls and telemetry solutions that allow remote control and monitoring of the heating system. With service proven solutions and a comprehensive portfolio of rail infrastructure heating products, nVent is the go-to source for keeping critical passenger transit infrastructure clear of snow and ice.

Heating Solutions for Third Rail Electrification

Pictured right is a typical third rail heating system setup on an 84 C rail. Pictured left is an 84 C third rail heating system installed around a splice bar.

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Connection and Protection for Critical Railway Infrastructure and Systems

nVent provides solutions that connect and protect critical railway infrastructure and systems, improving safety and reliability throughout the network. We offer innovative, high-quality products for critical electrical and electronic systems throughout the railway network. Through our powerful portfolio of brands that include nVent ERICO, ERIFLEX, HOFFMAN, RAYCHEM and SCHROFF, we provide electrical connection solutions for trackside and on-board applications, surge and lightning protection, trackside heating solutions, and enclosures for trackside signalling and on-board systems. Our portfolio of industry-leading products is designed to meet international railway standards. With a manufacturing and sales presence in every key rail market, we serve a global base of customers that includes railways, system integrators, rolling stock manufacturers and major rail equipment OEMs.

Electrical Connection Solutions

nVent ERICO is the global leader in cable-to-rail connections for track signal, power and grounding applications. We have been serving railways with niche electrical connection solutions for over one hundred years, and are responsible for many industry-standard products including Cadweld, which has been the primary method for making exothermic cable/rail welds since its introduction in 1938. Through our nVent ERIFLEX product line, we provide critical solutions for low-voltage power distribution, power conduction, and grounding required in trackside and on-board electrical panels. This innovative product line includes flexible busbars, distribution and power blocks, metallic braids, and cabling sleeves characterised by proprietary material composition that contribute to a safer, more reliable on-board and trackside electrical systems. In addition, nVent ERIFLEX products meet key rail industry standards, such as EN 45545-2, the European standard fire-performance requirement for materials and products used on-board railway vehicles.

Railway Surge & Lightning Protection

Damage as a result of surge and lightning events can cause major disruptions to railway signalling and power systems, which is why networks throughout the world turn to nVent ERICO to protect critical systems and equipment. We offer a full line of wayside surge protection devices that protect railway signalling, data, and power equipment against surges and voltage transients. nVent ERICO is also a global leader in direct-strike lightning protection, with solutions like System 3000, a custom combination of air terminal conductors, down-conductors, and grounding system used to protect rail yards and other large open spaces in the network.

Trackside Heating Systems

Snow and ice build-up on tracks and overhead wires poses a major safety risk and can cause serious disruptions to service. nVent helps railways operate in harsh winter conditions with our full line of trackside heating solutions, which includes heating systems for switches, contact rail (third rail), and overhead contact wire in catenary systems. With advanced heating cable technology from nVent RAYCHEM, along with high-quality system components and the general rail infrastructure expertise of nVent ERICO, we provide service-proven heating solutions. These are: Switch heating: systems that keep turnouts and crossings properly functioning in harsh winter conditions, with a full line of service-proven solutions that feature self-regulating heating cables, and flat MI (mineral insulated) heater element technology. Contact rail (third rail) heating: innovative heating systems that eliminate ice and snow accumulation on the contact rails (third rail), a critical part of passenger transit infrastructure. Catenary heating: an advanced heat trace cable system that melts snow and ice on overhead contact wires, a trusted solution used by networks that operate in cold weather climates as well as more moderate climates where freezing overhead lines can still be an issue.

Signalling Enclosures

nVent is a major supplier of railway signalling enclosures with a comprehensive portfolio of solutions for trackside electrical equipment, as well as critical electronic systems contained on board rail vehicles and at remote dispatch canters. With our trusted brands nVent HOFFMAN and nVent SCHROFF, we serve railways and signalling system integrators throughout the world, with manufacturing facilities in every key railway market, including China. Our industry-leading experience, and extensive design, testing and production capabilities allow nVent to produce high-quality enclosure products that provide robust mechanical stability, EMC shielding and protection against shock and vibration and other environmental challenges that are part of demanding railway operations. These high-quality enclosure products also meet international railway standards, which is why nVent HOFFMAN and nVent SCHROFF products play an integral role in safe, reliable railway networks. Our full line of signalling enclosures, which includes many rail-specific designs, is based on modular platforms that can easily be modified to meet unique applications. " ["post_title"]=> string(5) "nVent" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(5) "nvent" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-10-25 15:35:50" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-10-25 14:35:50" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(58) "https://railway-news.com/?post_type=suppliers&p=26951" ["menu_order"]=> int(3) ["post_type"]=> string(9) "suppliers" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }