A novel arc detection method for DC railway systems

Yljon Seferi, Steven M. Blair, Christian Mester, Brian G. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Electric arcing due to contact interruption between the pantograph and the overhead contact line in electrified railway networks is an important and unwanted phenomenon. Arcing events are short-term power quality disturbances that produce significant electromagnetic disturbances both conducted and radiated as well as increased degradation on contact wire and contact strip of the pantograph. Early-stage detection can prevent further deterioration of the current collection quality, reduce excessive wear in the pantograph-catenary system, and mitigate failure of the pantograph contact strip. This paper presents a novel arc detection method for DC railway networks. The method quantifies the rate-of-change of the instantaneous phase of the oscillating pantograph current signal during an arc occurrence through the Hilbert transform. Application of the method to practical pantograph current data measurements, demonstrates that phase derivative is a useful parameter for detecting and localizing significant power quality disturbances due to electric arcs during both coasting and regenerative braking phases of a running locomotive. The detected number of arcs may be used to calculate the distribution of the arcs per kilometre as an alternative estimation of the current collection quality index and consequently used to assess the pantograph-catenary system performance. The detected arc number may also contribute to lowering predictive maintenance costs of pantograph-catenary inspections works as these can be performed only at determined sections of the line extracted by using arcing time locations and speed profiles of the locomotive.
Original languageEnglish
Article number444
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • pantograph-catenary system
  • current collection quality
  • arc detection
  • predictive maintenance
  • railway electrical networks
  • Hilbert transform
  • rail transportation
  • power quality disturbance


Dive into the research topics of 'A novel arc detection method for DC railway systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this