BLUE WIRE Automated Catenary Heating Controls

BLUE WIRE is an automated heating cable solution, powered by the overhead wire system itself. It is a solution to increase the traffic regularity and reduce cost for expensive ice-remover-vehicle and teams. The automated system works with all overhead wire systems from 600 to 1500 V (special system for 15kV and 25kV).

Benefits include:

  • Elimination of costly interruptions of revenue service due to the effect of ice/frost accumulation on the contact wire.
  • Continuation of service in harsh conditions, as ice on the contact wire causes tramlines and light rails to lose power, and in extreme cases leads to the contact wire/catenary system being brought down.
  • Increased durability and reliability, as arcing caused by the presence of ice leads to excessive wear to the pantograph conductors, all leading to traffic delays and service disruption.
  • Saves time and effort from mechanical removal of ice, which requires manpower, is time consuming, and mechanically stresses the contact wire.

This automated heating system is a multi-layer design. It consists of an electrical insulated constant wattage heater surrounded by a heat transfer material.

The heating cable is secured to the contact wire with phosphor-bronze attachment clips to avoid galvanic corrosion. The heating cable is in a triangular shape. This makes it very easy to mount on top of the contact wire; the shape provides excellent thermal contact to the contact wire. It also makes the fastening clips easy to handle and very efficient to mount.

Catenary heating control has typically been provided as a manual on/off process where a switch needs to be physically thrown in either position: on or off. The catenary heaters are typically turned on at the beginning of the winter season and turned off at the end of the winter season.

NIBE Element Railway Solutions provides an alternative to this system by using a fully autonomous catenary control system called BLUE WIRE.

Much like the rail heating control system BLUE POINT, BLUE WIRE uses weather sensors and prediction to determine when to apply heat.

The SCADA system can be viewed and controlled on the NIBE Element Railway Solutions secure cloud web site or manually controlled locally at the controller.