Power supplies for railway applications: On the rails to 2020: Page 2 of 5

March 12, 2018 //By Patrick Le Fèvre
Power supplies for railway applications: On the rails to 2020
In a study presented at the international rail exhibition, Innotrans 2016 in Berlin, the European Rail Industry summarized the state of the business as representing a market size estimated to reach 185 billion Euro by 2020. For sure, the power supplies share of that amount is marginal compared to heavy rolling stock or infrastructure. Though without power supplies, nothing would be possible and so power designers are actively engaged in railway modernization.

In term of overall railway market, if we exclude the service part of the segment, rolling stock represents the majority of applications, followed by infrastructure and finally, track side and signalling. Each of these sub-segments has its own requirements that are specific to its environment. For example, converters for vehicle (e.g. locomotive) startup control, so called Low Battery Voltage Starter (LBVS) are connected to high voltage catenaries to deliver a low battery voltage, requiring very high insulation and high-level safety constraints – see figure 2.


Fig. 2: Low Battery Voltage Starter are connected
to high voltage catenaries to deliver a low battery
voltage, requiring very high insulation and high-level
safety constraints.

In addition, all on-board equipment must comply with general standards such as EN50155, which covers electronic equipment used in rolling stock (a standard that incorporates many other standards such as EN 50121-3-2 for electromagnetic compatibility). The railway field is highly standardized and each development begins with an analysis of the application case and related standards.

In addition to the traditional standards governing operating quality, operational parameters and safety, after more than 20 years of evaluation and its publication in 2013, this year the EN45545 standard (resistance and fire behavior) has become mandatory for all rolling stock. This standard aims to eliminate the risk of fire during a technical incident and all toxic fumes resulting from combustion of the product. For power supply manufacturers, this means selecting components that meet this standard and carrying out additional tests to ensure full compliance with the various chapters of EN45545.

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