2010-12-09 - ABB has developed a highly compact, lightweight and powerful traction transformer for Bombardier’s new ALP45DP locomotive. Especially designed for North America, the dual-powered locomotive can switch from electric to diesel mode automatically, without interrupting power supply to the coaches. First orders from New Jersey and Montreal are in process.
By ABB Communications
North America has the world’s largest rail network. Although only 1 percent of the 313,000 kilometers of track is currently electrified, this is widely expected to escalate by 35 percent a year over the next four years as economic stimulus packages to improve rail infrastructure and legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions take effect.
To provide North American railroad companies with the flexibility to benefit from increased electrification, Bombardier recently developed the ALP45DP dual-powered locomotive,* which has the capability to operate both as an electric locomotive drawing power from the overhead catenary and as a diesel locomotive on non-electrified routes. (* ALP stands for American Locomotive-Passenger).
Crucially, it can switch automatically between the two modes (electric / diesel) and operate on suburban passenger lines in a “one ride” session, without the need for passengers to change trains. Because of tunnel restrictions for diesel operation, this will lead to shorter and more comfortable rides for the passengers.
A North American first
This unique dual-powered technology – a ‘first’ in North America – requires an equally outstanding traction transformer to provide it with the necessary electrical energy, one that is exceptionally compact and lightweight and meets the demanding technical requirements for instantaneous acceleration, reliability and low maintenance.
Bombardier and ABB have a long history of cooperation in traction components for locomotives and other rolling stock. For the ALP45DP, ABB designed a traction transformer that is 25 percent lighter than conventional designs with the same technical requirements, weighing around 10 tons.
ABB’s ultra-compact, lightweight, thermal-shock resistant traction transformer is in Bombardier’s new ALP45DP dual-powered locomotive, specially designed for North America rail markets. (Photo courtesy Bombardier)
The transformer is exceptionally compact. Unlike other dual-powered locomotives that usually travel short distances and have only one engine, the ALP45DP is a long-distance locomotive with two high-speed engines, which means space for components like the traction transformer is severely reduced.
Despite the footprint and weight constraints, the transformer can operate in three electrical systems (12 kV 25 Hz, 12.5 kV 60 Hz and 25 kV 60 Hz) and incorporates two high-power auxiliary transformers and two reactors, which distribute the power to the coaches for lighting, heating, air conditioning, toilets, passenger information systems, and other electrical requirements.
ABB has been making traction transformers for railway rolling stock since the early 1900s and has an estimated 70,000 units currently in operation worldwide
The transformer also withstands intense thermal shock caused by instantaneous acceleration. Locomotives in North America are commonly required to go from zero to full throttle instantaneously. This produces a thermal shock for the transformer as it undergoes a rapid rise in temperature, a process that is heightened in cold weather.
New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) and Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) of Montreal are the first rail transportation companies to take advantage of the operational flexibility of this new dual-powered technology. NJ Transit has ordered 26 locomotives and has an option for an additional 63; AMT has ordered 20 and has an option for a further 10. Deliveries are to begin in fall 2011.
NJ Transit operates the fourth largest commuter rail network in North America, carrying some 252,000 passengers every weekday in New Jersey, Philadelphia and parts of New York City. AMT operates the second largest commuter rail service in Canada and the sixth largest in North America; it provides public transportation services across the greater Montreal region.
ABB has a long history of providing reliable, innovative and energy-efficient technologies to rail suppliers who manufacture and service all the systems, subsystems and components used in modern urban, conventional and high-speed rail systems. This includes rail infrastructure and rolling stock, as well as signaling and telecommunication systems.