RSSB unveils trailblazing closed loop 'dynamic' pantograph
The cutting-edge pantograph developed by Somerset-based company Brecknell Willis, in conjunction with the RSSB, was unveiled at an industry event last week.
The closed loop pantograph, which benefitted from a £300,000 innovation grant from the RSSB, measures contact with the overhead line equipment (OLE) and automatically adjusts to ensure “optimised current collection”.
Sensors at the pantograph’s head constantly monitor the surrounding infrastructure to provide data that determines the maintenance requirements for rolling stock and the OLE.
The product, also fruit of collaboration with City University London, received additional funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Neil Webster, RSSB’s innovation director, said: “With increasing train speeds and a planned programme of route electrification, this timely innovation will help increase reliability for passengers and rolling stock and infrastructure providers.”
Brecknell Willis’ engineering and development manager, Lee Brun, added that the project was an “exciting opportunity” that demonstrated the company’s ability to work in a cross-industry team “to produce innovative products that can benefit the industry”.
Brun was interviewed in this year’s February/March edition of RTM about the 24-month project, which had resulted in several prototypes and a first round of track testing in November 2015 at Long Marston.
During our interview, he said there are potentially lots of spin-offs from the work, but that “our holy grail is to provide a pantograph that reacts to the environment”.
“That means we can produce more reliable trains with better current collection,” Brun added. “That’s our overall objective, but there are some spin-offs, such as remote condition monitoring, where we’ve now got something that weighs not a lot, that can effectively be built into a pantograph such that the naked eye wouldn’t be able to tell much difference from a standard pantograph, and that can actually measure the forces at the interface between the overhead line and the pantograph.”
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