Rail

Metro-North goes high-tech to examine catenaries

Posted on December 5, 2008

The N.Y. Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Metro-North Railroad (MNR) is conducting a high-tech diagnostic examination of its entire New Haven Line catenary system to improve performance and identify needed repairs to the complex system of wires that power their trains.

MNR, in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, has contracted with Gerken SAS, a French manufacturer of carbon brushes, and Selectra, an Italian technical analysis company, to perform a detailed, high-tech analysis of the catenary system over a two-year period.

The multi-functional process will use sensors, including a camera that will photograph every inch of the New Haven catenary system and transfer those images to a computer that will determine the height, stagger (horizontal deviation of the wire from centerline of the track below it) and contact wear on the underside of the catenary wires to determine any present or potential problems. Actual catenary conditions will be compared to established criteria for these parts to ensure reliable operation.

The sensors have peripheral vision, which enables images to capture either side of the wires, such as the structures and stations, along the right-of-way, with the exact location of a photographed wire determined by its GPS coordinates.

The system will also capture close-up video images of the pantographs' "shoes," including the carbon wear strips set in metal holders that are positioned on the top of the pantograph arms and rub against the bottom of the electrified catenary wires in order to study the pantographs' performance, position and electrical commutation.

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