To ensure that new pantograph and catenary systems perform according to the European rail industry’s requirements, they must meet the standards set out in the TSI’s. These standards require that the dynamic interaction - the forces and movements between the systems - is rigorously tested. To date this has required extensive physical test programmes to assess how the products behave in a fully operational environment. The Ricardo pantograph and catenary modelling and simulation package ‘RiPAC’ has been developed by Ricardo to offer track and rolling stock engineers the opportunity to simulate the full motion behaviour of their designs. By doing the required test virtual by means of this simulation package, engineers of pantograph and catenary systems can test their designs at a much earlier stage of the product development process and can reduce the physical testing effort during certification.
The simulations, which are fully compliant with applicable standard for current collection systems (EN50318), are performed by Ricardo’s pantograph specialists who then process the data to provide a detailed report which can be used for authorisation. The simulations point out the most critical combinations of vehicles (i.e. pantograph distances) that can subsequently be physically tested.
Apart from using RiPAC for vehicle authorisation, Ricardo has used the RiPAC tool to certificate a new catenary system. The Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail and the Rotterdam Port Authority asked us to examine the catenary of a new 3.8 km line serving the Rotterdam port area for its compliance with the applicable standards.
We also used RiPAC for infrastructure managers to simulate the performance of systems on existing routes across their networks, to identify the cause of dynamical problems and to test the effect of modifications to existing systems.
The use of RiPAC is not limited to heavy rail systems. We can also provide simulations and analysis for tram systems and catenary powered electric bus networks.