2012-01-10 - ABB has developed a new traction converter to refurbish the first fleet of high-speed intercity trains operated by Deutsche Bahn, Germany's national rail operator. This is the first project worldwide involving the exchange of high-speed train converters while leaving all other components of the traction chain and all interfaces unchanged.
An extensive modernization program started in the summer of 2005 and the oldest vehicles in Deutsche Bahn’s fleet of intercity trains were given a completely new interior design after 14 years of operation. The program also includes the replacement of the now obsolete and cost-intensive thyristor traction converters with modern Insulated-Gate-Bipolar-Transistor converters.
The invitation to tender went out in 2007, and DB awarded the order for a prototype to ABB in September 2008. The task was to equip an ICE 1 with four newly developed traction converters of 2.4 MW each. ABB developed and produced these in just 13 months. Successful trial operation in regular rail service lasting several months and fulfillment of the network access criteria were the prerequisite for series production. An essential advantage of ABB's offer was the significant energy saving potential of its three-level topology.
This primarily differs from the conventional two-level traction converter in that fewer harmonic components are generated on the motor and network side. This minimizes energy losses and reduces the load on the motors, resulting in a longer life span. According to Harald Hepp, Profit Center Manager for High Power Propulsion, the energy demand can be reduced by at least 12 % in comparison with the old thyristor converters. He explains: "This has a positive effect on the energy balance as well as the environmental compatibility of the train, and makes a significant contribution to reducing operating costs, particularly in times of rising energy costs."