Intelligent rail technology for track brakes

New and very low-maintenance technology for rail brakes in marshaling yards facilitates the automatic assembly of freight trains.

Maneuvering without rail brakes is not possible.

Freight trains are assembled in marshaling yards. Steered by points, the wagons automatically roll from the shunting hump to the target track, on which the train is put together for a particular destination. At the same time, the wagons are slowed down in a controlled way before they reach the end of the train. After all, the cargo must not get damaged during this maneuvering. What sounds very simple at first is a complicated process. Because with mixed trains, wagons of various kinds get coupled together. For example, the number of axles, center-distance, running characteristics, tonnage, and length of the wagons vary. Wind direction and speed also have a significant impact on each wagon's speed and braking behavior.

Extensive data recording before and during the roll-off process

Data is collected from numerous sensors before the freight wagons are sent onto the shunting hump or during roll-off. This data helps to calculate the required braking deceleration in the track break. Until now, this deceleration was done by hydraulically and pneumatically activated brake blocks in the track that press on the rims of the wagon wheels to slow down the wagon. As you can imagine, these exposed brakes involve considerable maintenance work to remove leaking oil and weather-related problems such as freezing. Then, FEW Blankenburg had a great idea.

The electromagnetic track brake – electric power instead of hydraulics and pneumatics

The movement of the brake carriers in the trackbed is initiated magnetically in an electromagnetic brake system instead of using hydraulics and pneumatics that are susceptible to wear and failure. The brake carriers, equipped with magnetic technology, are integrated into both sides of the railroad line. They are mobile and press against the wheel during the braking process. Braking current and magnetic field are based on the data determined for the braking process and can reach 600A with 750V DC voltage.

The highlight – the electricity comes from high-power capacitors.

So that the required braking power is available at all times without extreme peak loads in the electricity network, it is taken from high-performance energy storage devices. These capacitors charge continuously, and the rolling process is only triggered when enough energy is in the capacitor for the braking operation. The storage dimensions are chosen in such a way that there is no need for UPS.

One controller for everything. With powerful VIPA technology.

The demands on the automation technology were very high. All control and regulation processes, from the charging process for energy storage to the precisely calculated braking current, should run via a CPU in addition to the fast and reliable processing of all measured values. Status messages in the control center can amount to more than 700 variables.
For the VIPA CPUs, the clock speed was feasible, but the communication via the MPI interface, together with a VIPA specialist, had to be adapted for this application. VIPA's 10 inch Touch Panels also were used for the visualization in conjunction with the Movicon interface for impressive ease of use. This technology was installed and been flawlessly running in the Seddin marshaling yard near Berlin since 2006.