Introduction to Traction Substations 

By on February 26th, 2012

Following on from my post on railway electrification voltages, I thought an introduction to traction substations would be a good idea.

Traction substations are used to convert electrical power as supplied by the power utility (or rail operators own network) to a form suitable for providing power to a rail system (via third rail or overhead line). Depending on the type of rail system this power would be either direct current (dc) or alternating current (ac).

For dc systems, the traction substation core equipment will be the transformers and rectifiers to used to convert the utility supply to dc. Rectifiers are either 6, 12 or 24 pulse. In addition the dc traction substation will contain circuit breakers to ensure the system is adequately protected and switching devices allowing operation and maintenance of the system.

For ac systems, the traction substation core equipment will be transformers which connect to the three phase power utility supply to convert this to a single phase voltage suitable for the rail electrification system being used. Again circuit breakers and switching devices will be provided to ensure adequate system protection and operation and allow for maintenance.

Alternating current supply on the traction side is single phase and can lead to imbalance on the three phase utility beyond allowable limits. Balancing devices (Scott transformers, static convertors, etc.) are often used to achieve these limits.

Generally traction substations will be controlled by SCADA systems and will likely provide power for auxiliary systems such as signaling and other track side purposes.

Traction substations have harsher operational and stability constraints than normal power distribution substations. These include being subject to frequent short circuits, transient spikes, voltage depressions and voltage rises. The use of thyristor controlled traction drives generate significant harmonics, affecting the supply system.

Given the unique issues associated with rail power, the design, construction and operation of traction substations has many technical challenges. Add into this, loading from many trains running at the same time and modern design is heavily dependent on software support.

Please feel free to add comments below or suggest any items which you thing would be a good topic for a more detailed post.


Steven McFadyen's avatar Steven McFadyen

Steven has over twenty five years experience working on some of the largest construction projects. He has a deep technical understanding of electrical engineering and is keen to share this knowledge. About the author


comments powered by Disqus

  1. Sanjay's avatar Sanjay says:
    1/2/2013 1:08 AM

    Would like to kbnow about the traction substation equipment ararngements,layout,spacing and building foot print of the traction substation.What standards are followed for the traction substations?Is there any specific requirements laid by IEC in this regard?


Comments are closed for this post:
  • have a question or need help, please use our Questions Section
  • spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to Contact Us



Latest Questions:

  1. Embedded system design
  2. PV system design - advice
  3. Power consumption of motor during starting
  4. Inspection of Cathodic Protection Transformer Rectifier
  5. Per Unit & Faults
  6. relay testing
  7. UPS battery sizing
  8. VSD/ VFD/ softstarters current supply to motor

most popular notesMost Popular Notes:







newsletter logo

Our Newsletter

Receive updates on new posts by email
down arrow

Solar Electricity Handbook - 2015 Edition: A simple, practical guide to solar energy - designing and installing solar PV systems.
Solar Electricity Handbook - 2015 Edition: ...
Michael Boxwell
Paperback - 204 pages
$17.08
Electric Power Distribution Engineering, Third Edition
Electric Power Distribution Engineering, ...
Turan Gonen
Hardcover - 1061 pages
$142.45
The Ultimate Solar Power Design Guide: Less Theory More Practice (The Missing Guide For Proven Simple Fast Sizing Of Solar Electricity Systems For Your Home or Business)
The Ultimate Solar Power Design Guide: Less ...
Lacho Pop MSE, Dimi ...
Kindle Edition - 210 pages
Energy Systems Engineering: Evaluation and Implementation, Second Edition
Energy Systems Engineering: Evaluation and ...
Francis Vanek, Louis ...
Hardcover - 672 pages
$60.99
Design of Smart Power Grid Renewable Energy Systems
Design of Smart Power Grid Renewable Energy ...
Ali Keyhani
Hardcover - 592 pages
$114.26
Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems
Renewable and Efficient Electric Power ...
Gilbert M. Masters
Hardcover - 712 pages
$100.73
Do It Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power, 2nd Edition (Simple Living)
Do It Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power, 2nd ...
Michael Daniek
Paperback - 128 pages
$10.75
Power System Relaying
Power System Relaying
Stanley H. Horowitz, ...
Hardcover - 398 pages
$122.30
Large-Scale Solar Power System Design (GreenSource Books): An Engineering Guide for Grid-Connected Solar Power Generation (McGraw-Hill's Greensource)
Large-Scale Solar Power System Design ...
Peter Gevorkian
Hardcover - 704 pages
$98.33
Renewable Energy in Power Systems
Renewable Energy in Power Systems
Leon Freris, David ...
Hardcover - 300 pages
$85.09
Power Electronics and Renewable Energy Systems: Proceedings of ICPERES 2014 (Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering)
Power Electronics and Renewable Energy ...
Hardcover - 1607 pages
$171.63
Optimization of Power System Operation (IEEE Press Series on Power Engineering)
Optimization of Power System Operation ...
Jizhong Zhu
Hardcover - 664 pages
$126.66
Electric Power Substations Engineering, Third Edition (Electrical Engineering Handbook)
Electric Power Substations Engineering, ...
Hardcover - 536 pages
$128.47
How to Solar Power Your Home Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Back-To-Basics Conserving)
How to Solar Power Your Home Everything You ...
Martha Maeda
Paperback - 336 pages
$12.41
Smart Power Grids 2011 (Power Systems)
Smart Power Grids 2011 (Power Systems)
Paperback - 696 pages
$299.00
Submarine Power Cables: Design, Installation, Repair, Environmental Aspects (Power Systems)
Submarine Power Cables: Design, ...
Thomas Worzyk
Hardcover - 296 pages
$189.00
Renewable Fuel Standard:: Potential Economic and Environmental Effects of U.S. Biofuel Policy
Renewable Fuel Standard:: Potential ...
Committee on Economic ...
Paperback - 250 pages
$68.00
Wind Turbine Operation in Electric Power Systems: Advanced Modeling
Wind Turbine Operation in Electric Power ...
Zbigniew Lubosny
Paperback - 262 pages
$209.00
Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: Construction and Economics (Sustainability Science and Engineering)
Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: ...
Dr Peter Gevorkian
Paperback - 400 pages
$49.99
Grid Converters for Photovoltaic and Wind Power Systems
Grid Converters for Photovoltaic and Wind ...
Remus Teodorescu, ...
Hardcover - 416 pages
$111.77
Smart and Sustainable Power Systems: Operations, Planning, and Economics of Insular Electricity Grids
Smart and Sustainable Power Systems: ...
Hardcover - 439 pages
$129.95
Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems
Renewable and Efficient Electric Power ...
Gilbert M. Masters
Hardcover - 680 pages
Solar Photovoltaic Basics: A Study Guide for the NABCEP Entry Level Exam
Solar Photovoltaic Basics: A Study Guide ...
Sean White
Paperback - 168 pages
$33.95
The Guide to Photovoltaic System Installation (Explore Our New Electrical Trades 1st Eds.)
The Guide to Photovoltaic System ...
Gregory W Fletcher
Paperback - 384 pages
$66.32
Photovoltaic Systems Engineering, Third Edition
Photovoltaic Systems Engineering, Third ...
Roger A. Messenger, ...
Hardcover - 528 pages
$103.59
Convex Optimization of Power Systems
Convex Optimization of Power Systems
Joshua Adam Taylor
Hardcover - 209 pages
$95.00
Solar PV Engineering and Installation: Preparation for the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification
Solar PV Engineering and Installation: ...
Sean White
Paperback - 248 pages
$37.04
Principles of Sustainable Energy Systems, Second Edition (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Series)
Principles of Sustainable Energy Systems, ...
Frank Kreith, Susan ...
Hardcover - 790 pages
$112.94
Independent Energy Guide: Electrical Power for Home, Boat, & RV
Independent Energy Guide: Electrical Power ...
Kevin Jeffrey
Paperback - 280 pages
Power System Monitoring and Control
Power System Monitoring and Control
Hassan Bevrani, ...
Hardcover - 288 pages
$115.00


Have some knowledge to share

If you have some expert knowledge or experience, why not consider sharing this with our community.  

By writing an electrical note, you will be educating our users and at the same time promoting your expertise within the engineering community.

To get started and understand our policy, you can read our How to Write an Electrical Note