A quick-install ABB power innovation for Swiss rail network

2011-06-14 - ABB has developed a medium voltage outdoor compact substation module for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) that is pre-assembled and factory-tested for fast overnight installation when rail traffic is at its lowest. The first of several repeat orders was recently completed.

By ABB Communications

ABB developed the solution in response to a request from SBB to develop a new coupling station that could be erected and made operational during a short overnight installation to avoid interrupting busy daytime passenger services.

Coupling stations – also known as switching posts or autotransformer (AT) paralleling substations - are a vital part of the traction power supply system. Located at intervals of 10-15 kilometers alongside the rail tracks, their key function is to feed electricity from the power grid to the trains via the overhead catenary.

Traditionally, the installation process for coupling stations involves a multi-vendor supply chain and complex logistical process. The electrical components have to be ordered from various suppliers, transported to the installation site (which is often at a remote or inaccessible location), and installed component by component to make a medium voltage substation.

An ABB medium voltage outdoor compact substation module being installed at night in the SBB rail network in Switzerland. A typical ABB medium voltage module meets the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) requirements for transportation by rail, air, sea and road.
With 3,000 kilometers of track in the Swiss national rail network and one of the best punctuality rail records in the world, SBB was keen to break with this time-consuming and service-disrupting process. SBB approached ABB.

The ABB solution is highly flexible and can be adapted to meet the needs of any rail operator. It comprises pre-assembled, factory-tested medium voltage modules consisting of proven ABB power products for rail applications – load-break switches, circuit breaker, resistor, current transformer, voltage transformer, and control cabinet.

“The ABB rail module is quick to install and doesn’t affect rail traffic. It has little need for maintenance, and the high voltage elements are reliable and proven. Its compact design allows for good integration with rail infrastructure.”

Pascal Gendre, project manager, SBB

The solution is virtually maintenance-free, and has an innovative design that enables the entire module to be transported simply and efficiently in a standard ISO freight container.

Designed for plug and play operation, the medium voltage outdoor compact substation module improves the reliability and safety of the traction power supply system, while eliminating inefficiencies in the supply chain and logistics process and avoiding lengthy shutdowns of rail services.

Following the success of the prototype, which has been in operation since May 2010, SBB has placed repeat orders for seven additional modules in five different locations of the Swiss rail network.

The module solution is also operating in South Africa’s new Gautrain high-speed commuter rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport. ABB provided a complete traction supply system for the rail link, comprising the main feeder substation and five outdoor mediumvoltage modules located at intervals along the 80-km route.

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    For more information about this other ABB solutions for the rail industry visit the ABB stand (D71) at Railtex 2011.

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