Low-cost catenary inspection system

SYSTEM OF CEIT IS COMPOSED OF A SERIES OF LOW-COST SENSORS THAT ARE INSTALLED IN THE PANTOGRAPH IN A NON-INVASIVE WAY, AND ALLOW OBTAINING PARAMETERS OF THE GEOMETRY OF THE CONTACT WIRE.

Maintenance costs represent a very important percentage of the operational expenses (OPEX) of the railway system. Those corresponding to the catenary (electrical infrastructure) and the pantograph (rolling stock) are of particular relevance; Although the pantograph-catenary interaction is not as critical as the wheel-rail interaction (from the point of view of safety), it contributes enormously to the service availability, since it plays a vital role in the railway energy system and therefore in the quality of the service.

The Basque technology center Ceit-BRTA (www.ceit.es) has developed a low-cost catenary inspection system, in the context of the European Project SIA (www.siaproject.eu), financed by EUSPA (European Union Agency for the Space Programme, www.euspa.europa.eu), that has just ended. This system is composed of a series of low-cost sensors that are installed in the pantograph in a non-invasive way, and allow obtaining parameters of the geometry of the contact wire (eg height and stagger), as well as parameters of the pantograph-catenary interaction (eg contact force). The modular nature of the device allows its integration into complete railway inspection and monitoring systems.

The system has been validated in commercial operation, installed in a vehicle of the Catalan Train Operating Company FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, www.fgc.cat) with very promising results. In the future, new functionalities will be incorporated in terms of their diagnostic capabilities, such as the wear of the contact wire and the pantograph rubbers, isolated defects in the catenary, among others.