Network Rail is responsible for 20,000 miles of rail lines in the UK, of which around 40% is electrified. The contact wire is designed to conduct electrical energy which the trains collect, and is susceptible to early failure due to the development of fatigue cracks, due to trains speeds of up to 200km/h inducing a pressure wave into the OLE.
Solutions could be complete replacements for the existing Neutral Section equipment used, or modifications to the existing equipment in a way which reduces the causes of early failure. Alternatively, technical solutions to align the phases of the individual power supplies, thus avoiding the need for a neutral section entirely, will also be considered. A secondary but not critical ambition of the project is to find technologies which may provide advanced detection or prediction of developing cracks.
Both CPC and Network Rail are looking for the UK innovation community to support the reduction of cracks in the contact wire, with the aim to provide a better service with less disruption to rail users.
If you’re interested in taking part in the project you can find out full details of the challenge and respond here
The window for expressions of interest closes 16th March 2020