Mikrotron Helps Keep Switzerland's Ceneri Base Tunnel Railway Project On Track

  • February 12, 2021
  • News
Mikrotron Helps Keep Switzerland's Ceneri Base Tunnel Railway Project On Track
Mikrotron Helps Keep Switzerland's Ceneri Base Tunnel Railway Project On Track

Feb. 10, 2021 - The Ceneri Base Tunnel (CBT) in Switzerland opened in December 2020. The last section of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) serves as a southern feeder to the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world's longest railway tunnel. Twenty-eight years after the country voted in favor of the building the NRLA, the entire project is now complete and operating a regular timetable service carrying both passenger and freight trains.
The CBT creates an uninterrupted rail route from the Dutch North Sea port of Rotterdam to the Italian city of Genoa on the Mediterranean. As such, the 9.5 mile CBT flat railway allows longer, heavier freight trains to deliver goods faster by traveling through the Alps, and for passengers to arrive at their destinations much earlier. It consists of two single-track tubes, approximately 100 yards apart, which are linked to each other by a total of 48 cross-passages. At its deepest point it is approximately 8,000 feet below the Alpine peaks.
Busbars were used in the Ceneri Base Tunnel instead of conventional catenary overhead lines to supply electricity to locomotives. Due to the lower overall height and because there is no need to ground components in the overhead contact line crack area, the use of busbars significantly reduced infrastructure costs. Overhead line specialist Furrer + Frey AG engineered and manufactured the Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail System in the CBT that integrates the busbars. A pantograph mounted on the roof of trains passing through the CBT collects power through contact with the Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail System, making it possible for the trains to achieve high speeds safely and efficiently.
With the help of a Mikrotron MotionBLITZ high-speed recording system, Furrer + Frey, together with the AlpTransit Gotthard AG and the Swiss Federal Railways, are able to observe how the pantographs behave in the section separator. Featuring a 4-megapixel EoSens® 4CXP high-speed camera, the Mikrotron system captures even at the most minor of events within the area of a train's pantograph. Video is recorded with a camera at 2,800 frames per second at a horizontal resolution of 2,336 pixels. It provides an excellent basis for assessment and evaluation for trains traveling on average at 124 miles per hour.
Among the insights the Mikrotron video system captures about the pantograph include answers to these critical questions:

  • Are there differences that occur depending on the direction trains travel within the pantograph's knee gait and in the gauntlet?

  • How do pantographs perform at different speeds?

  • How do arcs arise in the pantograph? Where do the arcs ignite, and how do they go out again?

  • How effective is the aerodynamic design of the pantograph?

  • What is the associated wear and tear on the pantograph's carbon contact strip over time?

In numerous trial runs captured by the Mikrotron MotionBLITZ, the Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail System was exhaustively tested. A specially-equipped ICE-S high-speed measurement train was demonstrated to safely travel at a velocity of 170 miles per hour – the highest speed to be tested in the Ceneri Base Tunnel.

About Mikrotron GmbH

Mikrotron GmbH, established in 1976 and located just outside Munich, Germany, provides a full range of high-end imaging solutions for challenging applications in industry, engineering, science and sports. The company designs, produces, and commercializes high-speed and high-resolution cameras, image recording cameras and systems, software and image processing components. Mikrotron's slow-motion recording enables customers to optimize manufacturing processes, improve product design, revolutionize quality management and analyze motion. Mikrotron is ISO:9001 certified. Mikrotron is operated as a business unit of Lakesight Technologies, and is part of TKH Group NV.

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