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Chris Kast's VeriTranz Blog

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Freight Rail Signal Issues and Induced Current

    Many freight and commuter railroads including Class Is have had signal issues related to induced current on the rail from a variety of sources.  The most common of these sources is induced current from power generating companies or other industrial entities.  Power frequencies such as 60 Hz and their 3rd and 5th harmonics (in this case 180 Hz and 300 Hz) can have disruptive and damaging effects on track circuits and signal system components.  These harmonics are the result of non-linear loads on the power company's generating equipment which distort the voltage waveform.


     In order to help identify this issue, we can program our Rail Scanner Pro to scan and display the base power frequencies along with their harmonics as well as all the track frequencies and overlays the customer wants to see.  In two field demonstrations in the last few months, we were able to detect significant induced current at the 3rd harmonic, 180 Hz.  These harmonics can cause damage to generators, induction motors, transformers, cables, circuit breakers and fuses. Most of this damage is in the form of overheating caused by eddy currents and stray flux losses.  They also contribute to iron and copper losses which further reduce the life of these components.  If you suspect that you have induced current issues, please contact us to set up a demonstration.




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