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2011 - July - Szacsvay - The Elephant and the Flea - Living with Traction Return 2011 - July - Szacsvay - The Elephant and the Flea - Living with Traction Return

Paul Szacsvay BE (Elec) M Admin FIRSE

Rail Corporation NSW

Traction supply and distribution systems, electromagnetic interference from AC traction supply systems, electrolysis from stray DC traction currents, and interference between in-rail traction currents and track circuits have all been well documented in published literature. Traction current return systems and the issues involved with them have not been so well served.

Focussing mainly on practices relevant to Australasian railway systems, this paper gives an overview of the configuration of typical DC and AC traction supply and return systems, the requirements for their safe and reliable operation, and their interaction with track circuits and other infrastructure on and near to the railway.

It concludes with a brief discussion of the potential benefits of adopting train detection systems which are not dependent on electrical contact with the running rails. In addition, since a really detailed study of the issues relating to traction return is beyond the scope of a paper of this length, a reading list of useful reference books and articles is provided for those seeking to explore any of the topics in more depth.

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