PKP PLK rolls out new pantograph monitoring system to detect faults in real time

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Polish railway infrastructure manager PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe (PKP PLK) has rolled out a new pantograph monitoring system, which can detect faults in real-time, to improve the reliability of trains, reduce delays, and to protect overhead line equipment from damage.

The new Pantograph Control System is a first for Poland and is currently in use on the Warsaw – Katowice and the Warsaw – Grodzisk Mazowiecki lines. PKP PLK plans to roll it out on more lines, especially on its busiest routes, in due course.

The system detects faults and damage on the pantograph, which is a piece of equipment mounted on the roof of a train used to collect power through contact with an overhead line. According to PKP PLK, faulty pantographs cause around 100 overhead line failures every year.

The Pantograph Control System is placed next to the track and includes a set of sensors which capture information on the pantograph in use on the train as it passes the system, according to a report by Rail Target. Software then creates a 3D model of the pantograph, which is compared to a reference model. Any differences or faults are then flagged up by the software, so appropriate action, such as repairing the fault or in more serious cases, stopping a train, can be taken.

“Checking the technical condition of pantographs in real-time will not only increase the reliability of the railroad infrastructure but, above all, will reduce the number of network faults caused by the improper condition. Such a solution will significantly improve train traffic and reduce maintenance costs and the number of overhead line faults caused by the bad condition of pantographs,” Piotr Majerczak, member of the Board of PKP PLK told Rail Target.