Saft MRX batteries help boost reliability of Finland's high speed Pendolino railway services

January 19, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
VR Group is looking to boost passenger confidence in Finland's high speed Pendolino services by switching to Saft’s MRX specialized rail batteries to resolve reliability and maintenance issues encountered with the Pendolino service’s former onboard batteries.

In trial installations, the Saft nickel‐based batteries have proved their capability to deliver high performance, outstanding reliability and low maintenance requirements on two of VR’s Pendolino trains. The success of the trials has resulted in VR Group deciding to purchase an increased number of MRX batteries when replacing the original Pendolino batteries.

“We are committed to building an excellent reputation for reliability on Finland’s Pendolino services and changing to the Saft MRX batteries is set to play an important role in this process,” said Hannu Ryyppö, head of electric safety for rolling stock at VR Group. “We have had excellent service from previous generations of Saft batteries on our older rolling stock, where they continue to provide reliable operation, even after 20 years. The new design MRX batteries have proved their capability in two trial installations, where we have been impressed by both their reliability and low water consumption. That’s why we have selected Saft’s MRX as the standard choice for all our Pendolino battery replacement projects for the next two years.”

VR Group is the state‐owned operator of Finland’s rail network. Its prestigious high speed passenger service is provided by the tilting Sm3 Pendolino trains that interconnect Finland’s major cities at speeds up to 220 km/h. The onboard batteries play a vital role in ensuring operational reliability and continuity by supplying backup power for critical safety and passenger comfort services such as emergency lighting, communications, door operation and heating and ventilation.

In order to improve the reliability of the Sm3 Pendolino trains, VR is carrying out a complete review of all the onboard equipment. This includes the existing batteries that were experiencing particular issues with premature failure in this heavy duty application, as well as requiring frequent maintenance such as regular topping up with water.

In 2009, VT decided to review alternative batteries for its Pendolino trains, targeting a service life of at least 15 years, and carried out