Feasibility Study into Monitoring Overhead Lines Aims to Avoid Expensive Equipment Failure





Configuration Management:



BS EN 50128


Zircons client provides manufacturers of passenger trains across the world with high quality CCTV systems. As part of a project where Zircon were assisting the client with the development of their next generation CCTV system, camera’s will be mounted to the roof of trains in order to provide real-time footage of the pantograph and overhead lines.

The part of the pantograph that makes direct contact with the overhead line is covered with a carbon shoe that conducts electricity whilst working as a form of lubricant. Due to the friction from continuous contact with the overhead lines this carbon covering wears down over time. In order to wear the surface down in an even fashion the line tracks across the pantograph from left to right in a zig zag motion.

The consequences of damage to the overhead line equipment are both expensive and far-reaching. In order to provide the end users of this new CCTV system with additional value, it was our clients desire to utilise this footage to monitor the pantograph/overhead line interface to quickly identify areas where the path of the cable is incorrect or arching is present.

In order to monitor the path of the overhead line across the pantograph Zircon carried out a feasibility study to identify the position of the point of intersection between the two surfaces in footage from the client’s camera. Upon locating the intersection, a record is made of its position, velocity and acceleration as the train travels along the track. If the software identifies that the position of the intersection has remained constant for longer than a predefined acceptable period or the velocity and/or acceleration exceeds the defined thresholds, the GPS position is recorded and an alert is raised.

Identifying occasions of arching was a simpler task. The sudden burst of light generated by the spark causes the camera to experience a sudden brightness overload, especially in darker environments, which can easily be identified by the software. As with the tracking of the overhead lines if the software detects arching the GPS position is recorded and an alert is registered. All of the alerts registered during a journey are processed upon the completion of the train’s journey and the relevant line maintainers are informed.

This system was successfully delivered to the client as part of the CCTV development project, and Zircon has subsequently provided the client with support services as they introduced and modified the system for new clients.

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