Electric Railway Pantograph | Different types

railway electrification

In an earlier article, we have studied the Indian Railway electric and diesel-electric locomotives with specifications and their parts.

Now, I am describing the most important part of an electric locomotive that is a Pantograph. Also, we will study the types of pantograph based on construction, operation, speed, power, etc.

Let’s dive from beginning.

What is a Pantograph in Train?

A pantograph is an overhead component of an electric train that is placed on the roof of an electric locomotive or engine.

The pantograph consists of different parts like base frame, arm (lower and upper arms), main-spring with yoke, contact strip, and balance rod.

Out of these components, the contact strip is the most crucial part of collecting the alternating current (AC) on overhead lines. These overhead power lines are called as a ‘Catenary‘.

From the catenary, AC power is transmitted to the contact strip. This contact strip is mounted on the pantograph head that can provide power to the electric traction units (like a transformer).

Pantograph works as movable rod. And it is operated by compressed air from the breaking system.

The basic function of the pantograph is-

  • to make continuous contact that collects the electric current from overhead power lines.
  • to transfer collecting current or power from the contact wire to the electric locomotive or engine.

Thus, pantograph is also known as ‘Current Collector‘ or ‘Current Receiver‘.

There are different types of pantograph occurred like as a ‘diamond’ or ‘Z’ shape. The shape of the pantograph depends on the type of pantograph.

What are the different types of Pantograph?

Under the arm construction, there are the two main types of pantograph.

Based on the arm construction

  • Single-arm pantograph
  • Double-arm pantograph

Usually pantograph is classified based on arm construction. There are also other classifications of pantograph based on the different functions and features.

Based on operating or running speed

  • High-speed pantograph
  • Normal-speed pantograph

Based on the frame layers of pantograph

  • Single-layer pantograph
  • Double-layer pantograph

Based on the spring operation

  • Spring operated pantograph
  • Non-spring operated pantograph

Out of this classification, single-arm and double-arm pantographs are prominent parts.

What is a single-arm pantograph?

The single-arm type pantograph is mostly used in electric locomotives.

A single-arm pantograph requires low power from the overhead system. It connects with an overhead single-phase AC system.

This type of pantograph occurs in ‘Z’ shape.

What is a double-arm pantograph?

A double-arm pantograph requires an overhead three-phase AC power system. This type of pantograph consumes high power to raise the speed of the train.

The structure of double-arm pantograph finds in as ‘Diamond’ shape.

This is all about the basic explanation of the pantograph in Indian railways. In an upcoming article, I will explain pantograph parts and pantograph mechanism.

Read more related article:

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