Conductor Rail Heating

On third and fourth rail infrastructure it can be beneficial to provide electric strip heating on to the conductor rails when the ambient temperature is hovering around zero degrees Celsius resulting in the top surface of the rail being prone to the formation of ice which would affect the collection of power by the train.

There are five main reasons why conductor rail heating should be considered:

1. To prevent the formation of ice on the top of the rails thus enabling sufficient power transfer for continuous operation of the rolling stock.
2. To prevent the shoe gear from ‘sticking’ to the rail when the train is stationary.
3. To prevent potential ‘burnout’ of the shoe gear due to severe arcing between the rail and shoe.
4. To ensure continuous current supply to the rolling stock minimising intermittent disruption of supply.
5. To minimise train fault displays leading to stoppage and costly traffic delays.

The net result of all these issues will inevitably result in serious delays and disruption to traffic along the route concerned. Although it is not necessary to heat the whole of the third rail system it is beneficial to heat the rail at certain critical locations where there will be heavy traction current draw such as at the initial departure from stations and on rising gradients.

Following the policy of heating railway points in order to mitigate the effects of ice and snow it becomes apparent that the electric heating of the conductor rail at certain locations on 3rd and 4th rail DC infrastructure would result in a further benefit towards fully operational railway infrastructure in adverse weather conditions.

Conductor Rail Heating categories: