Powering the Railways with Reliable UPS

Power disruptions in rail networks are not a mere inconvenience, they can also pose serious hazards to public health and safety. Designed to make the rail networks both safe and prompt, ABB’s UPS systems provide high reliability in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner.

ABB has provided rail-specific power protection solutions for several years, and they have wide-ranging experience in developing, providing, and supporting specific and standard UPS solution for both underground and above-ground rail installations across the world (Figure 1).

ABB’s UPS systems are designed to keep rail networks moving safely and promptly, and to provide maximum reliability in a way that is energy-efficient and cost-effective.

Figure 1. ABB’s UPS systems are designed to keep rail networks moving safely and promptly, and to provide maximum reliability in a way that is energy-efficient and cost-effective.

There are many different forms of power disturbances. Apart from blackouts and outages, power voltage can swell or sag over short and long periods and can lead to overvoltages and brownouts. Frequency variations, harmonics in voltages and electrical noises may also appear on lines.

All of these problems can be resolved with a UPS system that conditions the incoming power to remove noise, harmonics, sags, swells, and spikes. ABB offers a wide variety of UPS systems for use in metro systems and rail networks to ensure stable, reliable, and continuous power for various different rail applications (Figure 2).

ABB has a wide range of UPS systems that are used in rail networks and metro systems to ensure reliable, stable and continuous power for many different rail applications.

Figure 2. ABB has a wide range of UPS systems that are used in rail networks and metro systems to ensure reliable, stable and continuous power for many different rail applications.

UPS Solutions for Railway Signaling

The continuous and safe flow of rail traffic is ensured by modular, redundant UPS systems (Figure 3). Optimizing the investments in signaling and control systems can increase the use of rail networks and reduce the cost of railway lines and new infrastructure.

UPS systems ensure the efficiency, reliability, safety, and punctuality of railway network services and provide uptimes as high as 99.9999%. As railway infrastructure operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, maximum uptime capacity is essential.

It is also important that the extremely fast rail traffic can move in various directions without causing any disruptions. Accurate transit management, reliable signaling systems, and reliable signaling systems are critical for the profitability of a railway system.

The UPS systems offered by ABB are designed to protect the power supplies of the rail network from two redundant sources such as a private railway power supply and the public power network.

UPS solution for railway signaling.

Figure 3. UPS solution for railway signaling.

The interchangeability of modules is a special feature of ABB's UPS systems, drastically reducing the spare part count and simplifying servicing. Users can replace a defective UPS module online in just 20 minutes, without causing any harm to the critical load. This approach addresses the need for continuous uptime, simplifies system upgrades, and considerably reduces mean time to repair (MTTR) as well as the inventory levels of specialist spare parts.

In order to substitute incompatible safety systems in European railways - particularly on high-speed lines - a signaling, control and train protection system called European Train Control System (ETCS) has been set up.

A diesel electric generator is often used to back up the ETCS power supplies, however the use of such generators not only affects the installation cost of the whole system, but also takes up a large space on the system’s power density. In contrast, ABB’s solution removes the backup diesel electric generator and also increases the redundancy level through the inclusion of a battery pack.

Also, if there is a separate second mains network it can be used in the backup power plan. With the help of the ABB dual-frequency UPS converter (Figure 4), the power networks of varying frequencies can be harnessed, so that the load can use either or both wherever appropriate.

If a fault occurs in one power network, the ABB dual-frequency UPS feeds the critical load via the other network. If a fault occurs in both networks, the UPS battery pack, which serves as a third energy storage option, provides the required power, for instance through a control system such as ETCS. This ensures zero downtime for the whole system.

Dual-frequency UPS converter.

Figure 4. Dual-frequency UPS converter.

UPS Solutions for Administrative Buildings and Stations

The UPS solutions provided by ABB are suitable for protecting major applications, including building management systems (BMS). Office areas, railway stations, and other large facilities are usually provided with a BMS to regulate and track the building’s electrical and mechanical systems such as security, ventilation, fire alarms, and lighting.

The BMS provides a safe, comfortable, and productive environment and ensures the safety of personnel and equipment. It also increases operational efficiency and decreases energy consumption. Clean backup power is also provided by ABB’s UPS for sensitive electronic devices such as user interfaces, I/O devices, controllers, etc. that are designed to track and control the infrastructure.

UPS Solutions for Operational Control Centers

One of the major power users is operational control centers. As railway companies usually rely on the operation of a control center, it is important to ensure that traffic controlling and operations are available all the time, and that information is stored in a consistent, energy-efficient manner.

This aspect is ensured by ABB’s UPS systems. A high-quality UPS will ensure that there is a continuous flow of clean power to the data center, regardless of the events occurring at the power supply side.

An effective UPS is required for the operation of control centers. ABB offers a series of both standalone and modular UPS systems. These solutions set a new benchmark in terms of system flexibility, reliability, efficiency, accessibility, and scalability, and are at the forefront of power protection technology and innovation.

UPS Solutions for Emergency Lighting

In public transportation structures, emergency lighting requirements and associated building codes are critical to facilitate occupant egress during an emergency. As ABB’s emergency lighting UPS is designed in conformity with standard EN 50171, it is ideally suited for installation in buildings in compliance with fire safety regulations, especially for the power supply of emergency lighting systems.

The emergency lighting UPS can also be used for the power supply of other emergency systems, such as carbon monoxide detection devices, smoke extraction equipment, alarm systems and emergency detection systems, automatic fire extinguishing systems, and dedicated security systems in sensitive areas.

UPS systems ensure the safety of rail networks by protecting the power supply for switches at rail junctions, level crossings, train signaling operations, train control systems and sensors. These application requirements can be met by adopting either standard UPS solutions or special engineered solutions like dual frequency UPS systems.

UPS systems that provide power protection improve rail network traffic control to guarantee the high reliability and the optimum use of trackway slots, ensuring continuous, reliable rail traffic management. The emergency and safety systems are also protected by the UPS systems in train stations, on board trains, and by rail tracks, enabling continuous monitoring of operating conditions in the surrounding environment.


Systems offering video surveillance, radio communications, fire protection, and emergency lighting are just a few of the safety-relevant, critical low-voltage loads demanding continuous power supply. ABB’s standard products are customized for such applications, with the advantages of a low cost of installation, maintenance and service and the highest availability and reliability.

ABB’s power protection systems also provide support to passenger services, including lift systems, ticketing systems, information panels, lights and auxiliary services for rail personnel.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by ABB Power Conditioning - Discrete Automation and Motion Division.

For more information on this source, please visit ABB Power Conditioning - Discrete Automation and Motion Division.


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