In the world of train transportation, third rail systems are a popular choice for making quick and efficient city commutes. However, not many people are aware of the technology that goes into these train systems.
As it turns out, third rail train equipment is compromised of a few key components, which come together to create an efficient and reliable system. Take a closer look at the three main components of third rail train equipment to understand how the system works.
The Third Rail Itself
Perhaps the most recognizable of the three components, the third rail is the power source that transmits electricity to the train. The rail is positioned next to or between the standard rails that the train rides on and is energized with a high-voltage power supply.
As the train passes, a shoe or collector on the bottom of the train car makes contact with the rail and draws the power it needs to move. This allows for a continuous source of power, which is crucial for the frequent stops and starts of a city train system.
The third rail also features electrical switches that allow the power to be directed or shut off from certain track sections. This is used when maintenance needs to be done on the track or when certain parts of the train system aren't in use.
While the third rail provides the power for the train, it doesn't create that power on its own. That's where the substation comes in. These substations are typically located at regular intervals along the tracks and are responsible for taking in high-voltage AC power from the main power grid. The substation then transforms that power into the DC voltage the third rail needs to operate. The DC power is then sent to the third rail using an overhead cable system.
Substations also come with their own set of switches, which allow for the power to be turned on or off in certain areas of the track. Although not as regularly used as the third rail switches, they are essential to a properly functioning train system.
Contact shoes are perhaps the least visible component of third rail train equipment, but they are absolutely necessary for the system to work. These shoes are located on the bottom of each train car and are responsible for making contact with the third rail. They are typically made of a material with high electrical conductivity and low friction characteristics, such as carbon or graphite.
This contact allows for an uninterrupted power flow as the train moves along the track. Additionally, contact shoes can be adjustable, allowing for the same car to make contact with different types of third rails depending on its location. They are designed to maintain a consistent electrical connection between the rail and the car, even when the track is uneven or has curves.
For more information, reach out to a third rail train equipment supplier near you.