First switch of Czech rail to alternating current completed

Locomotive 151 and electric unit 471 in Přerov. Image: Czech Railways

Czech Infrastructure manager Správa Železnic completed the switching of the traction power supply to alternating current between Nedakonice and Říkovice on the Breclav – Přerov corridor this Friday. The first project for the conversion of power supply systems on domestic lines is now on to the final phase of trial operation. The switch means that operator Leo Express can no longer run their trains on the line, however.

The network of electrified lines in Czech Republic currently uses a 3 kV direct current (DC) system mainly in the northern part of the country and a 25 kV, 50 Hz alternating current (AC) system in the south. Správa Železnic is working towards unifying the power supply for electric trains by gradually switching DC lines to AC.

The transition to an AC system will bring a more efficient power supply to propulsion vehicles with lower losses, energy savings and compatibility with high-speed lines, according to the infrastructure manager. It also means cheaper electrification of other conventional lines.

Two years of works

The construction work to move to AC around 43 kilometres north to Přerov began two years ago and took place almost the entire time with full railway traffic on the line. After switching off the electricity for two weeks for the final works, the section between Otrokovice and Říkovice and thus the entire first section Nedakonice – Říkovice now runs on AC. Earlier in June, the catenary from Moravsky Pisek to Tlumacov on the same line was switched off for finalising the switch.

Traction power stations were built in Otrokovice and Říkovice, the heart of which are static frequency converters manufactured in Switzerland by Hitachi Energy. The technology will enable the symmetrical withdrawal of electricity from the network. In addition, energy recovered during the operation of locomotives can be easily reverted back to the distribution system.

Due to different technical parameters, the entire section of the corridor had to undergo modification of the insulator system, the traction line itself, as well as the track’s security equipment. The actual switching of power supply systems requiring partial shutdowns took place from mid-June. Part of the construction was also the preparation of the supply of lines to Vizovice or Luhačovice and Bylnice. The total costs amount to approximately 2.3 billion crowns (94 million euros). Documentation for construction management and construction implementation is co-financed by the European Union as part of the Transport Operational Programme.

Leo Express has to cancel trains

Due to the change in electrical system, operator Leo Express can no longer run their trains on the route. The operator is therefore forced to cancel their direct train connections between Přerov and Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště stations.

Leo Express will use free train capacity on the Prague-Bohumín route, which will be strengthened by two pairs of connections in the direction Prague-Bohumín and two pairs of connections in the direction Bohumín-Prague, the operator told Czech medium Seznam Zprávy. From the southern part of the Zlín Region, passengers can still reach Prague by direct connection with the Czech Railways (CD). On weekdays, the Slovak Express runs seven times in both directions, the journey to Prague takes about three hours and 50 minutes. The trains of Czech Railways are transported by multi-system Siemens Vectron electric locomotives, which are also equipped with ETCS.

The gradual switching of the traction power supply will continue in the directions from Přerov and Děčín in the following years. There are also separate projects for selected track sections, for example from the state border with Slovakia to Vsetín. Power supply conversion is also part of the planned modernisation of the Prague-Radotín – Beroun line.

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Author: Esther Geerts


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