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Effective December 6, 2006, this report has been made publicly available in accordance with Section 734.

3(b)(3) and published in accordance with Section 734.7 of the U.S. Export Administration Regulations. As a result of this publication, this report is subject to only copyright protection and does not require any license agreement from EPRI. This notice supersedes the export control restrictions and any proprietary licensed material notices embedded in the document prior to publication.

Power System and Railroad Electromagnetic Compatibility Handbook
Revised First Edition

Technical Report

Power System and Railroad Electromagnetic Compatibility Handbook
Revised First Edition
1012652

Final Report, November 2006

Cosponsors Association of American Railroads (AAR) 50 F Street NW Washington DC 20001 Project Manager M. Congdon American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) 8201 Corporate Drive, Suite 1125 Landover, MD 20785 Project Manager I. Alperovich

EPRI Project Manager B. Cramer

ELECTRIC POWER RESEARCH INSTITUTE 3420 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, California 94304-1338 • PO Box 10412, Palo Alto, California 94303-0813 • USA 800.313.3774 • 650.855.2121 • askepri@epri.com • www.epri.com

DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITIES
THIS DOCUMENT WAS PREPARED BY THE ORGANIZATION(S) NAMED BELOW AS AN ACCOUNT OF WORK SPONSORED OR COSPONSORED BY THE ELECTRIC POWER RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INC. (EPRI). NEITHER EPRI, ANY MEMBER OF EPRI, ANY COSPONSOR, THE ORGANIZATION(S) BELOW, NOR ANY PERSON ACTING ON BEHALF OF ANY OF THEM: (A) MAKES ANY WARRANTY OR REPRESENTATION WHATSOEVER, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, (I) WITH RESPECT TO THE USE OF ANY INFORMATION, APPARATUS, METHOD, PROCESS, OR SIMILAR ITEM DISCLOSED IN THIS DOCUMENT, INCLUDING MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR (II) THAT SUCH USE DOES NOT INFRINGE ON OR INTERFERE WITH PRIVATELY OWNED RIGHTS, INCLUDING ANY PARTY'S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, OR (III) THAT THIS DOCUMENT IS SUITABLE TO ANY PARTICULAR USER'S CIRCUMSTANCE; OR (B) ASSUMES RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING ANY CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF EPRI OR ANY EPRI REPRESENTATIVE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES) RESULTING FROM YOUR SELECTION OR USE OF THIS DOCUMENT OR ANY INFORMATION, APPARATUS, METHOD, PROCESS, OR SIMILAR ITEM DISCLOSED IN THIS DOCUMENT. ORGANIZATION(S) THAT PREPARED THIS DOCUMENT Timerider Technologies, Inc. CorrComp R.G. Olsen Consulting ARC Technical Resources, Inc. James Stewart Consulting Union Switch and Signal

NOTE
For further information about EPRI, call the EPRI Customer Assistance Center at 800.313.3774 or e-mail askepri@epri.com. Electric Power Research Institute and EPRI are registered service marks of the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. Copyright © 2006 Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

CITATIONS
This report was prepared by: Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) 3420 Hillview Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94304 Principal Investigator B. Cramer Timerider Technologies, Inc. 172 Summit Road Bishop, CA 93514 TimeriderTech@earthlink.net Principal Investigator M. House The authors of each chapter of this book are listed with the chapters. This report describes research sponsored by EPRI, Oncor Energy Delivery Services, The National Grid Transco Company, Association of American Railroads (AAR), and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA). The report is a corporate document that should be cited in the literature in the following manner: Power System and Railroad Electromagnetic Compatibility Handbook: Revised First Edition. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA, Oncor Energy Delivery Services, Dallas, TX, The National Grid Transco Company, Warwick, UK, Association of American Railroads (AAR), NW, Washington DC and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA), Landover, MD: 2006. 1012652.

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

This book is a source of technology and information for preventing and mitigating ac electrical interference problems on railroads. All aspects of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) where railroad systems are the receptors are examined. This includes well-understood areas such as magnetic induction from transmission lines as well as less understood areas such as conducted interference from distribution systems and effects of harmonics. Chapters examine all known effects of ac interference, including personnel safety, operation of railroad equipment and systems, and damage to railroad equipment. Direction is provided for studying the effects of proposed new and upgraded installations, as well as root cause analysis of problems on existing installations. The handbook is structured for use either as a reference, or for in-depth study. To date, information on these issues has been incomplete and scattered. The need for a single reference document exists for both the railroad and power industries. This handbook would not have been possible without a strategic alliance with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA). It is the hope of all those involved in electrical issues of joint corridors that this work will help facilitate safe, problem-free operation of railroads and power systems. Results & Findings For the first time, one resource provides the tools necessary to understand and rectify ac interference problems on railroads. The tools provided can help personnel work backwards from effects to causes to find the best possible solutions. Savings can be significant. As several case studies demonstrate, problems that took weeks and months to track down can now be located in days or hours. Challenges & Objectives This book is specifically written to be easily understood and useful for a variety of people responsible for the reliability of railroad and power systems. The intended audience includes railroad personnel, power company personnel, EMC specialists, and equipment suppliers. These groups include electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, technicians, signal maintainers, regulators, and managers. By preventing ac interference problems through advance planning, by tracking down existing problems more quickly, and by applying mitigation that is both effective and economical, substantial savings can result. Through continued study and handbook updates, even greater economic benefits can be expected. The continuing alliance between AAR, AREMA, and EPRI will help promote safe and reliable movement both for electric power and for passengers and freight, providing a high-degree of safety for the general public.

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Applications, Values & Use Periodic updates to this book will include developments in the railroad and power industries. Changes in signal systems and power systems have the potential to change the way these systems interact. By following the evolution of technology in future editions, this tool will continue to be effective. EPRI Perspective EPRI is in a unique position to accomplish the goals described in this book. Our past joint projects with AAR, and our network of experts in power delivery and electromagnetic compatibility have provided many of the tools included in this handbook. With continued support from AAR and AREMA, an extensive network of railroad personnel, railroad equipment suppliers, and railroad consultants has been added to the mix. The result is a unique opportunity to produce a truly useful tool. Approach The project team’s first goal was to create a tool for solving any ac interference problem a railroad might experience and to do it in a way that any technician or engineer could apply. Another goal was to provide enough information to solve problems quickly while allowing for in-depth study. Keywords joint corridors ac interference induction inductive coordination electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) electromagnetic interference (EMI) railroad signaling communication and signaling

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ABSTRACT
This book is intended as a source of technology and data for the prevention and mitigation of ac electrical interference problems on railroads. Much of the information was developed through joint projects between the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) over the past thirty years, and by technical committees of the AAR and the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA). All aspects of electromagnetic compatibility where railroad systems are the receptors are examined. This includes well-understood areas such as magnetic and electric induction from transmission lines, as well as less well-understood areas such as conducted interference from distribution systems and the effects of harmonics. Chapters examine all known effects of ac interference, including safety of personnel, operation of railroad equipment and systems, and damage to railroad equipment. Direction is provided for the study of the effects of proposed new and upgraded installations, as well as root cause analysis of problems in existing installations. The handbook is structured to be used as both a quick reference book and for in-depth study.

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AUTHORS

Project Manager Brian Cramer

Editorial Committee Irina Alperovich Ron Capan Mary Congdon Marvin Frazier Eddy Harrel Mike House Paul Jones Robert Olsen Mike Silva Robert Stevenson

Chapter 1:

Introduction and Background Brian Cramer and Mike House Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Jerry Ramie and James Stewart Overview of Power Systems James Stewart and Brian Cramer Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Mike House and Ben Feely Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment Mike House and Ben Feely Damage to Railroad Equipment Mike House Personnel Safety Considerations Brian Cramer and Marvin Frazier Field Measurements Mike House and Brian Cramer Investigation Mike House and Brian Cramer ix

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4:

Chapter 5:

Chapter 6:

Chapter 7:

Chapter 8:

Chapter 9:

Chapter 10: Diagnostic Flow Chart Brian Cramer and Mike House Chapter 11: Graphic Evaluation of Proposed Changes Based on Simulations Marvin Frazier Chapter 12: Computer Modeling of Joint Corridors Marvin Frazier and Brian Cramer Chapter 13: Mitigation Options Brian Cramer, Marvin Frazier, and Mike House Chapter 14: Case Studies various contributors Chapter 15: Planning Guidelines for New/Upgraded Railroad Systems Brian Cramer Chapter 16: Planning Guidelines for New/Upgraded Power Systems Brian Cramer Chapter 17: Conclusions Brian Cramer Chapter 18: Glossary Mike Silva and Mike House Chapter 19: Errata Sheet

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
In 1872 a patent was issued for electrical signaling apparatus for railroads. In 1893 commercial ac power transmission began in New York City. For most of the ensuing 110 years issues involving ac interference with railroad systems have been studied, debated, and mitigated with varying degrees of success. Expertise has been developed and forgotten several times during this period. And each new technology introduced has added another twist to the process of developing and maintaining compatible electrical systems. This Handbook is the result of the efforts of a great many people over a period of more than a century. At the core of this effort are a handful of people who have struggled to bring two industries that use electricity in very different ways to a common understanding. These people share a passionate belief that by understanding all of the technologies involved, the issues can effectively be addressed. You will see these peoples’ names listed as authors and editors. We thank the EPRI contractors who contributed their unique skill and technological ability. We also deeply appreciate the help of the EPRI utility participants who provided financial support. We owe special thanks to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Railroad Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) for their participation and support. Much of the work in this field for the last dozen years has been done by these two organizations and by their technical committees. These industry committees, and the volunteers who participate on them, have made immeasurable contributions to this field. Much of the information collected in this book is the product of these organizations. We would like to thank the members of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC was tasked with keeping the Handbook on track. If the Handbook is the useful tool we envisioned, and if it is really understandable in its presentation, then the PAC deserves much of the credit. The PAC members are: Irina Alperovich, Norfolk Southern Railroad (AREMA) Mary Congdon, Canadian Pacific Railroad (AAR) Eddy Harrel, Oncor Energy Delivery Services Paul Jones, Earthing Risk Management (National Grid Company) The following individuals contributed photographs to the Handbook: Peter Brackett, Canadian Pacific Railroad Ron Capan, Union Switch & Signal Ben Feely, Union Switch & Signal Michael Herz, Pacific Gas & Electric Company xi

Mike House, Timerider Technologies Inc. Mike Silva, Enertech Dan Warren, Southern Company Dave Wright, Safetran Systems The following individuals provided reviews and editorial support: Irina Alperovich, Norfolk Southern Railroad Forrest Ballinger, GE Transportation Warwick Beech, Erico Richard Bowden, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Peter Brackett, Canadian Pacific Railroad Ron Capan, Union Switch & Signal Mike Choat, CSX Transportation Mary Congdon, Canadian Pacific Railroad John Danyluk, Comet Communications & Signal Ben Feely, Union Switch & Signal Marv Frazier, CorrComp Inc. Dave Gove, Transtector Eddy Harrel, Oncor Energy Delivery Services Mike House, Timerider Technologies Inc. Paul Jones, Earthing Risk Management Rod Leard, Saft America Bob MacMillan, CSX Transportation Fred Meeks, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Robert Olsen, Washington State University Jerry Ramie, ARC Technical Resources Mike Silva, Enertech Robert Stevenson, Consultant James Stewart, Consultant

Brian S Cramer EPRI Palo Alto, California

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HOW TO USE THIS HANDBOOK
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) are complex fields of study. EMC work is often further complicated when the source of the interference and the receptor of the interference are very different technologies. Railroads and power systems are an example of this. While both industries have thousands of knowledgeable people, including a great many electrical engineers, few of them understand both industries. This handbook is specifically organized to fill this void. To achieve this goal, most chapters have been organized into three sections. They are: • • Introduction Quick-Start Version The quick-start version of each chapter is designed to allow the user to work effectively in the shortest time. It is possible to read the quick-start version of each relevant chapter and to begin to address a problem. Of course, the effectiveness of this method will depend on the user’s prior knowledge and experience. • Detailed Version For those with a thirst for greater knowledge, and the time to satisfy it, read the detailed version of each chapter. In the end, this will benefit both you and your organization. It is highly recommended that every user read the detailed section of Chapter 2: Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility. A basic understanding of this field of study is necessary. The next thing to read is the chapter about the other industry’s system. For example, if you are a power engineer, read Chapter 4: Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits – preferably the detailed version. If you are a railroader, then we recommend you read Chapter 3: Overview of Power Systems. To effectively address interference issues, you need an understanding of EMC fundamentals and the basics of all systems involved. Throughout this handbook the authors and editors have tried to make each chapter and section stand-alone. You will see terms and acronyms defined repeatedly. This is done so the user can use the handbook as a reference with a minimum of flipping back and forth to fill gaps. Never the less, an extensive glossary is provided with both power and railroad terms.

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......1-1 Background .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................2-18 Common Mode Interference .................................................................2-6 Differential and Common Mode Signal Types ........2-18 Differential Mode Interference................................................................................................2-23 North American Model ...........................................................................................................................1-7 References .......................................................2-23 European Model .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................2-24 Personnel Safety ......................................................................................................................................2-17 Interference Types....2-2 Detailed Version .......CONTENTS 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND ..................................................................................................................................................................2-15 Differential Mode Signal.........................................................................................................................1-6 Organization ......................................................................................................................1-4 Prior Programs ..............................2-16 Common Mode Signal ..............................................................................1-5 Terminology.........................................................................................................................2-2 Quick-Start Version .........2-25 Emissions & Immunity Testing .......................2-1 Introduction ..............................................1-2 What is AC Power Interference? ..................................2-26 xv ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................1-8 2 FUNDAMENTALS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC COMPATIBILITY (EMC) ................................................................2-4 Introduction to EMC..........2-19 Receptor Circuit Unbalance .....................................................................................2-25 Types of Emissions Tests................................................................................................................................................................................................2-4 Interference Paths ........................2-21 European and North American Models .2-2 Introduction to EMC...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

.....3-15 4-Wire Multi-Grounded Feeders............................3-19 5-Wire Feeders .3-8 Underground Transmission Lines...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................2-28 Legal Environments..............................................3-17 3-Wire Grounded (Unigrounded) Feeders ..........3-4 Introduction to the Power System..2-27 Basic EMC Standards ......................2-28 EMC Standards in other Industries.....3-13 Primary Feeder Grounding .......................................................................................................................3-22 Impact on EMC ...............2-31 Addressing the gaps.....................3-21 Other Considerations Related to Ground Currents.............................................................................................................................................2-34 3 OVERVIEW OF POWER SYSTEMS................................................Types of Immunity Tests ......................................3-2 Quick-Start Version ......................................................................2-27 Regulatory Structure.............3-23 Underground Distribution Lines .......................................................................................................................................................3-16 4-Wire Single-Point Grounded Feeders ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................3-12 Overhead Distribution Lines ..................................................................................3-23 Substations Near Railroad Tracks ........................................................................................................................2-26 Immunity Performance ..........................3-20 Other Systems ...................................3-2 Detailed Version ....................................................................................................................................................................2-31 Social Environments............................2-33 Railway Signal Equipment Manufacturers need to: ....................................................................3-4 Overhead Transmission Lines.....................................................................3-20 Secondary Feeder Grounding....................................................................................................................................3-1 Introduction ......................................................................2-33 Power Providers Need To:...................................................3-24 xvi .........................................................................2-33 Railways Need To:................................................................3-2 Introduction to the Power System..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................2-34 References ..........................................................................3-17 3-Wire Ungrounded Feeders................................................................................................................................................2-32 Summary ......................................................

.........................................................................................................................4-5 Railroad Tracks...........................................................................................................................4-25 Insulated Joint Failure Modes..............4-31 What Is (and What Isn’t) a Track Circuit?.........................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-2 Quick-Start Version .........................................4-31 Robinson’s Patent ...4-1 Introduction ...........4-50 xvii .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-37 General Types of Signal Equipment..............................................4-17 Rails........................................................4-49 Types of Signaling Systems .............................................................................................................................4-15 Railroad Track as an Electrical Transmission Line...............4-39 Signaled vs..................................................................................................................................4-32 Railroad History ...........................................4-13 Contaminants in Ballast..............................4-2 Detailed Version ...................................................................................................4-20 The Shunting Action of a Train’s Axles...........................................................................................................................................4-40 Signaled Trackage and its Signal Systems...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-20 Insulated Joints.......................4-41 Signal Systems: Wayside Signals and Cab Signals.....................................................................................................................................4-47 Relay-Based Interlocking ......................................................................................4-44 What is an Interlocking? ..............................................................................................................................4-43 Signaling Basics ..4-16 Bondwires............................4-47 Power Interlocking ...................4-3 Railroad Signaling Circuits – Introduction.........4-38 What is a Signal System?............................................4-41 What is a Block?..................................4-29 Track Circuits...............................................................................................................................................3-25 4 OVERVIEW OF RAILROAD SIGNAL CIRCUITS ....................................................4-48 Solid-State Interlocking ...................................................................................................Secondary Distribution .................................................... Non-Signaled Trackage ..................................................4-4 Railroad Rails and Ties – Mechanical and Electrical Properties ...............................................................................4-3 Railroad Track – Part of the Track Circuit ...................................................................4-6 Ballast............................................................4-45 Mechanical Interlocking .........................................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................................................4-63 Mechanical Trip Stop ....................................4-54 Searchlight Signals .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-61 Train Control Systems ..................................................................................................................................................................4-77 Shunting .....................................4-66 Magnetic Trip Stop.......4-68 Batteries and Electrification ............................................................4-57 Cab Signal Systems .........4-78 Remedies for Poor Shunting ...............................................................4-86 Coded DC Track Circuits ...........................................................................................................4-70 Rechargeable Batteries .............................................................4-65 Indusi ..............................................4-67 Track Circuits in General ..................................4-72 Receivers – Correct Reception is the Key to Safety...............................................................................................................................................4-58 Absolute-Permissive Block Signaling (APBS)..........................................................................................................................................................4-82 Railroad Track Circuits – One at a Time .........................................................4-57 Signal Lamps .........................................................................................4-58 Automatic Block Signals (ABS).......................................................4-50 Colorlight Signals ............................................................4-66 Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) .........................................................................4-87 xviii ........................4-64 Intermittent Inductive Trip Stop ...................................................4-60 Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) .......................................4-56 Signal Lighting Circuits ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-53 LED Colorlight Signals .............................................4-56 Semaphore Signals ...................................................................................................................4-56 Position Light Signals .................................................................4-55 Fiber-Optic Searchlight Signals .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-83 Steady Energy DC Track Circuits .................Wayside Signal Aspects and Indications...........................................4-83 Polarized DC Track Circuits...................................4-69 Primary Batteries ....................................................................4-52 Crossing Flashers ..............................................................................................................................................................4-71 Transmitters..............................................................................4-74 The Output of the Track Circuit ................................................................................4-58 Types of Signal Control Systems ....................................................................................................................................................................................

............................................................................4-118 Conventional or “Stick” Grade Crossing Warning Systems .....................................4-127 Wheel Detectors ....................4-109 “Audio-Frequency” Cab Signaling...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-121 Highway Crossing Flashers ............................................................................4-91 Electrified Electro Code ............................................................................................. Crossing Predictors......................................4-128 xix ........Trakode..........................................................4-94 Classic AC Track Circuits ...............................................................................................................................4-117 Motion Sensors.....4-90 Electro Code ........................................4-107 Impulse Track Circuits ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................4-114 Motion Sensors ...............................................................4-98 Double-Rail AC Vane-Relay Track Circuits and Impedance Bonds ..................................................................................4-97 Centrifugal AC Relays......................................................4-92 Microtrax .................................................................4-127 Axle Counters .....................................................4-105 Audio-Frequency Overlay .................4-125 Alternatives to Track Circuits.............................................................................................................................................................4-128 Global Positioning Systems .....................................................4-109 Cab Signals ..........................................................4-112 Grade Crossings ............................................................................................................................................................................................................4-104 Audio-Frequency Track Circuits................................................................................................4-103 Style C Track Circuits ..................................................................................4-100 All-AC Signaling Systems .......................................................4-123 Crossing Bells ............................................................................4-94 Double Element Vane Relays .......................................................................................................4-93 AC Track Circuits – In General ............................................. and AC Interference ............................................................................................................................................4-120 Highway Crossing Gate Mechanisms ...................4-113 Crossing Predictors..................................................................................4-96 Phase Shifting..............................................................................................................................................4-89 PMTC (Pulse-Modulated Track Circuit) ................................................................................................................4-124 Highway Crossing Traffic Preemption............................................4-126 Magnetometers ........................................................................4-97 Single-Rail Vane-Relay AC Track Circuits....................4-126 Communication-Based Crossing Warning Systems ....

...............................................................................................5-13 Vitality and “Creative” Equipment Maintenance............ Vital ....................................................................4-131 Slide Fences .................................................................4-131 Tag Readers .............................5-12 Methods of Achieving Vitality ......................................................4-153 Lightning Protection and Grounding .....................................................................................................................................................O.......................... Terminology.......................................................................................................................5-2 Definitions.............4-141 Other Signaling Topics .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-146 Electric Traction Circuits ....................................5-3 Redundancy vs...5-2 Abnormal Operation of Railroad Signal Equipment.........................................................T............................. and Philosophy.........................5-7 “Right-Side” Abnormal Operation..................................4-131 Hotbox Detectors ...........................................................4-157 References ............................................................................................................. Vitality ............................................................4-130 Wheel Defect Detectors ................................................................................................................................4-136 Electric Switch Locks ..............................................................................4-132 End-of-Train Monitoring (E........5-14 xx ..................................................................................................5-11 Philosophy .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................) .......4-160 5 ABNORMAL OPERATION OF RAILROAD EQUIPMENT .........................................4-133 Other Miscellaneous Track-Mounted Signal Equipment ......... Vitality.....................4-138 Impedance Bonds ................................................................................................................................5-9 Abnormal Operation from “Spoofing” of Normal Events...................4-134 Gauge Plates and Gauge Rods .............................................5-5 Dual vs........4-149 Rules........................................................................5-2 Quick-Start Version ......4-137 Switch Machines ..................5-7 “Wrong-Side” Abnormal Operation........................................................M.................................................. Standards and Instructions ...................................5-6 Abnormal Operation........................................4-154 AC Interference Issues ..............................................................................................................Hazard Detectors.........................5-2 Detailed Version ........................................................................... and Fail-Safe Design..............................................................................4-146 Safety...................................................5-1 Introduction ...............................................................................................................................................................................4-134 Switch Circuit Controllers.............................................................................

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................7-1 Introduction ......................................................................................7-4 Shock Hazard ...............................................................7-4 Duration of Exposure ....................................................................................................6-2 Quick-Start Version .......................................................................................7-12 Body/Contact Impedance....................................................................................................................................7-3 Detailed Version ...................................7-12 Conductor Circuit Impedance...........................................................................................................................................................7-11 Steady-State Limits............................................................................... Other Industries............................................................................................................7-18 xxi ......................7-2 Magnetic Induction.......................................7-9 Usual Circumstances .........................5-15 Railroad Signal Equipment Standards vs....................................................................................................................... Vitality..................5-16 6 DAMAGE TO RAILROAD EQUIPMENT...........................................................................................................................................................7-6 Steady-State Exposure .............................................................................................................................................6-1 Introduction ............................................................................................7-7 Philosophy of Setting Standards...............7-4 Background......7-14 Voltage Limits Derived From Current Effects.....6-5 Exposures...........6-2 Detailed Version ...............................................................................................................7-2 Quick-Start Version ............................................................................................................6-7 Mitigation ...................................7-16 Other Considerations .......................................................................................................................................................................................... and Wrong-Side Failures ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................6-2 Standards ....................6-9 7 PERSONNEL SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS ................................................................................7-2 Shock Hazard ........................................6-3 Railroad Signal Equipment Design Practices .............................................................................................................................7-14 Source Impedance ............................................Rules.................................................................7-3 Electric and Magnetic Field Exposure ................................................................................................................................7-2 Fault Induced Voltages.......7-2 Electric Induction ..........................................................7-6 Short Duration Exposure...........................................7-16 Possible Target Values .......................................................................................

.....................................................................................................................................8-12 Second Discriminant: Dominant Frequency...............................................................8-10 Procedure ............7-20 Possible Target Values ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-13 Objectives ...................................................................7-25 International Standards....................................................7-23 Electric and Magnetic Field Standards and Guidelines .................................................................8-10 Equipment Required .............................................................................................................8-10 Overview .......................................................................8-7 Objectives .......................7-32 8 FIELD MEASUREMENTS .................................8-12 Test #3 – Check for Excessive Track Circuit Unbalance..................7-23 State Standards and Recommendations Related to Transmission Lines.........................................................................................................................................................8-8 Test #2 – Measure Dominant Frequency ......................................8-12 First Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude....................................7-30 References .........................................................................8-8 First Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude....................................................................8-7 Procedure ................................................................................................................................................7-29 Safe Working Clearances from Power Lines.............................................8-2 Tests .................................................................................................................................8-7 Overview ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-13 xxii ...................................................................................................................................................8-7 Interpretation of Measurements .............7-23 Introduction to Standards and Guidelines............8-8 Second Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude.....................Limits for Faults and other Short-Duration Events ...............................................8-13 Overview ........................................................8-4 Test #1 – Excessive Common Mode Voltage.....................7-27 Swedish Standards for Computers and Monitors .....................................8-1 Introduction .........................................8-2 General Precautions for all Test Procedures .......................7-23 Guidelines for Exposure to 50/60 Hz Electric and Magnetic Fields ....................8-10 Interpretation of Measurements ......8-7 Equipment Required .................................................................................................................................................8-3 General Information.............................................8-10 Objectives ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

..........................................................................................8-23 Test #6 – Rail-Rail and Rail-Ground Spatial Voltage Distribution Test ..................................................................................................................................................8-20 Interpretation of Measurements ...........................8-16 Interpretation..........................................................................8-16 Overview .....8-20 Overview ..................................................................................................................................................8-17 Second Discriminant: Fundamental to First Even Harmonic Ratio ..............................................8-22 Third Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude......................8-20 Objectives ................................................................................................................................................................................8-22 Fourth Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Balance ...........................................................8-27 Third Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Anomalies..........................................................................................................................................................8-22 Second Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude...............................................................8-27 Test #7 – Insulated Joint Test .........................................................8-24 Interpretation......................................8-13 Procedure ...................................................................................................................................................................................8-15 First Discriminant: Degree of Track Circuit Unbalance ................................................................................................................................................8-24 Procedure ......................8-24 Objective...............................................................................................................................8-16 Equipment Required .............................................Spectral Analysis Test..............................................................................8-20 Procedure ........................................8-28 xxiii ............8-16 Objective......................................................................8-20 Equipment Required ......8-13 Interpretation of Measurements .........................8-15 Test #4 ...............8-18 Test #5 – Coarse Rail Balance Test............................................................................................................................................................................................................Equipment Required ............................................8-24 Overview ...............................................................................................................................8-24 Equipment Required .........................................8-22 Fifth Discriminant: Voltage Summation .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-17 First Discriminant: Ratio of AC Power Fundamental to First Odd Harmonic.........................................8-27 Second Discriminant: Rail-to-Rail Voltage .................................8-16 Procedure ......8-26 First Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage..............................................................................................8-22 First Discriminant: Rail-to-Rail Voltage Magnitude........8-18 Third Discriminant: Power and Proximity to Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor Operating Frequency .....................................................

.........................................................................................................8-32 Test #8 – Direct Measurement of Insulated Joint Resistance ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-40 Procedure ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-45 Overview .8-45 Procedure ....................8-28 Overview .....................................8-34 Interpretation.................................................8-43 Overview ............................................................................................8-34 Equipment Required ................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-40 Objective.................................................................................8-44 Test #12 – Local Ground/Power Company Neutral Isolation Test .....................................................................................................................................8-45 Objective...........................................8-34 Overview ................................................................................................................................................................................................Objective.....................................................................................................................................................................................................8-38 Interpretation..........................................................8-44 Interpretation................................8-39 Test #10 – Arrester/Equalizer Test...................................................................................................................................................................................8-30 Interpretation............................................8-38 Equipment Required ........8-43 Objective..........8-45 Equipment Required ................................................................................8-38 Procedure ..................................................................8-29 Procedure ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-45 xxiv ....8-40 Equipment Required ...........................8-43 Procedure .............8-38 Overview ................8-42 Test #11 – Hardwire Shunt Testing ...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-34 Objective..........................................................8-28 Equipment Required ..............................................................................8-35 Test #9 – Alternate Insulated Joint Test – No Special Equipment ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8-38 Objective......................................................................................................................................8-40 Overview ..................8-41 Interpretation.....................8-34 Procedure ...............................................................................................................8-43 Equipment Required ..............

.....................................................................................................9-2 Step 1): Recognition – A Report of a Problem .........................................Interpretation................................................................9-24 xxv .............8-46 9 INVESTIGATION ....................................................................................................9-4 Is it Really AC Interference?.........................................9-11 Step 4): Predict the Implications..................................................................................................................................................................................9-22 Guessing at the Causes.............................9-12 Step 5): Test Each Implication........................9-1 Introduction ..................................................................................................9-15 The Source – Path – Receptor Model ............................................................................................................................................................9-5 The Nature of the Problem .....................9-4 The “Rules of Thumb” of Railroad Signals and AC Interference ...........9-3 Step 3): Guess at the Cause(s) ........................................................................................9-7 Recognizing AC Interference Problems...........................................................................................................................................................................9-7 Step 1): Recognition – A Report of a Problem .................................................................9-2 Troubleshooting Fundamentals – The Scientific Method ...9-20 The “Where” Questions...............9-13 Step 6): Form the Simplest Theory that Explains the Results....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................9-4 Step 5): Test Each Implication...9-2 Quick-Start Version .....................................................................9-6 Troubleshooting Fundamentals – The Scientific Method ..................................... Fields – Power Lines .................................................................................... ................M.....................................................................................................9-9 Step 2): Study the Problem .....................................................................................................................................................9-5 Detailed Version ......9-3 Step 4): Predict the Implications....................................................................................................9-5 Introduction...................................................................................................................................................................9-2 Step 2): Study the Problem ..............................................................................................................................................9-20 The “What” Questions...........................................................................................................9-4 Step 6): Form the Simplest Theory that Explains the Results ...............................................9-21 The “When” Questions..................9-14 A Hidden Fork in the Road ..........................................................9-16 The “Rules of Thumb” of Railroad Signals and AC Interference ................................................................................................................9-23 The Specific Questions ...........9-10 Step 3): Guess at the Cause(s) .............................................................9-24 Common Sources for E...............................................................9-17 The Questions .....................

....................................9-25 Common Receptors – Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors ...................................................10-3 11 GRAPHIC EVALUATION OF PROPOSED CHANGES BASED ON SIMULATIONS ........................................................................................................................................................9-27 Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors – Symptoms and What They Mean ........................... and Wires ............................11-19 Fault Current Coupling to Track ................................................................11-2 Personnel Safety for Steady State Magnetic Field Induction to Rails ..10-2 Following the Flow Chart..................................................................................................9-28 Case #2: The Crossing Equipment is Activated Before it should be..........................................10-1 Introduction ..........9-31 Case #3: The Crossing Equipment Stays Activated for Longer than it should after a Train has Passed Completely through the Grade Crossing...................................10-3 Where to begin .............................................................................11-7 Signal System Equipment Compatibility for Steady State Magnetic Field Induction to Rails..........................11-10 Personnel Safety for Steady State Electric Induction to Open Wire Signal Pole Lines ................................................ Rails............................................................................................................................11-15 Introduction and Background................................11-19 Conclusions .......................................................................................9-27 Case #1: The Crossing Equipment is Activated Continuously or Intermittently When there are No Trains Around ..................................................................Common Sources for Conducted Interference .............................................................................................................................................................................................11-16 Steady State Coupling to Pole Line ............................................10-3 How to Proceed ...................................................................11-1 Introduction ...................................................................................... but there is a Train Approaching ...................................9-33 Case #4: The Crossing Equipment is Activated Briefly after a Train has Passed Completely Through the Grade Crossing and the Crossing has Recovered.................11-15 Preliminary Review of Coupled Voltage and Current..........11-13 Personnel Safety for Faulted Power-Line Magnetic Field Induction to Rails ..............................................11-2 Summary of Graphical Aids for Compatibility Issues .....................................................11-13 Power-Line Fault Induced Rail Current for Lightning Arrester Survival ......................................................................9-25 Common Paths – Fields.................................................11-20 xxvi ..................................................................................................................11-16 Steady State Coupling to Track .11-14 Example of Preliminary Compatibility Assessment by Graphical Procedures..........................................................................................................................................9-33 10 DIAGNOSTIC FLOW CHART ..................................................................

..........................................12-25 Track Unbalances and Induced Voltage at Signal Equipment ...................12-25 Track Signal Circuits and Their Effect on Induced Voltage.......................12-2 Required Information ......................................................................12-21 Double Circuit Arrangements................12-8 Detailed Version ........12-9 Quantifying Magnetic Field Coupling ..................12-2 Quick-Start Version .......................................12-54 Degraded IJ with Train......................................12-3 Results...............................................................................................................................................12-67 xxvii ........................12-56 Simple Model with Shorted Insulator........................................................................................................................................................12-22 Steady State Compatibility Modeling of Railroad Systems for Magnetic Field Coupling from Power Systems .........................................................................12-2 What Computer Modeling Will and Will Not Do .................................12-7 Choosing a Consultant ...............................................................................................................................................................................................12-46 Field Measurements.................................12-9 Three-Phase Systems ..........................................................................12-55 Field-Measured Example ..............................12-19 More on Power Line Unbalance.................................................12-8 Power Systems Steady State Magnetic Field for Railroad Compatibility Studies..............................................................................................................................................................12-20 Conservative Effect of Steady State Unbalance Example ...............................................................................12-1 Introduction ....................................................................12-34 Degraded IJ and Track Unbalance .............................................................................12-14 Unbalance Comparison Example ...............................................................................................................................................................................12 COMPUTER MODELING OF JOINT CORRIDORS.....................12-42 Shorted IJ Example................................................................................12-8 Overview of Power System-Railroad Interactions ....................................................................12-8 Choosing Software .12-51 Power-System Phasing...................................................................................12-61 Shorted Arrester to Ground..........12-47 Analysis of Exposure.12-64 Conduction Coupling to Track Circuit...........................................................................................................................................................12-58 Signal Equipment Impedance ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................12-51 Model Comparison to Field Measurements ..............................................................................................................................12-2 General...................................................................................................................12-63 Affect of Signal-System Ground Resistance on Coupled Interference ........................................................................................................................

...............................................................................................................12-100 13 MITIGATION OPTIONS.................................................................13-7 Power System Mitigation ..12-90 Fault-Induced Rail Voltage and Personnel Safety .....13-7 Counterpoise – Underground...............................................13-11 Phase Spacing reduction (Phase Compaction) ..........................................................................13-14 Open Delta Transformer Removal ....Analysis Procedure for Evaluating Induced Voltage at Track Signal Equipment......................................................................12-86 Fault-Induced Rail Current................................................................................................................12-95 References ............12-71 Steady State Coupling to Railroad Signal Lines.................................................................................12-69 Susceptibility of Track Signal Equipment...............................................................................12-72 Electric Induction Coupling to Signal Lines – Example.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................13-12 Vertical Spacing Increase (Higher Structures)..........13-8 Load Current Limiting....................................................................13-1 Introduction .....................................................................................................12-84 The Firing of Arresters in One Track Circuit..................13-13 Automatic Reclosing Restriction ..13-8 Fault Current Limiting.............................................................12-76 Power Line Fault Coupling to Railroad System ....................................................................................................................13-3 Detailed Options.....................................13-9 Phase Arrangement Optimization (Cancellation)..................................................................13-15 xxviii ........13-12 Horizontal Spacing Increase ..............13-10 Phase Current Balance Optimization..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................12-83 Overview ............................................................12-83 Fault-Induced Firing of Track Arresters ..................13-14 Fault Current Clearing Time Reduction ...................................................................13-10 Neutral Wire Size Increase ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................12-71 Electric Induction Coupling to Signal Lines – Concepts.....................................................................................................................................13-13 Manual Reclosing Restriction .......................................13-3 Mitigation Tables ...12-71 Magnetic Field Coupling to Signal Lines.......12-85 The Firing of Arresters in Adjacent Track Circuits...................................................................................13-7 Counterpoise – Aerial ............................................13-9 Split-Phasing...............................................

...............................................14-7 xxix ............................................................Capacitor Bank Inspection/Monitoring ....13-22 Work Gloved (Work Using Electrically Insulated Rated Gloves...................................................................................................................................................................................................13-29 Railroad Bed (Ballast) Condition Improvement.........13-23 Track Circuit Lead Fusing ....................................................)..........................................................13-16 Reducing Length of Electrically Continuous Track (At Power Frequencies) (Shorten Track Blocks) ...........................................................................................................................................14-6 Equipment Damage from Power System Events ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................13-28 60 Hz Cab Signals Changed to Another Frequency ..............................................................................................................................13-24 Operating Frequencies Chosen to Maximize Immunity .......................................13-27 “Style C” Track Circuits Removed............14-4 Case Study #3 ............................................................................................13-20 By-Pass Shunts And Couplers Removal ......................13-25 Signal Output Level Increases .........................13-30 Safe Working Clearances from Power Lines.................................................................................................................13-15 Railroad Mitigation.........................14-1 Introduction ...........14-2 Case Study #1 .........................................13-27 Pole-Line Communication Systems Removed.....................................................................................................................................13-16 Grounding Un-Signaled Track/Sidings (Multigrounded Rail can Act as a Counterpoise) ...................................................................................13-21 Isolation Transformer Installation......................................................13-18 Surge Arresters Inspection – Increased...............................................................................13-19 Surge Arresters Replacement – Failed Units..........................................................13-21 Resistive Network Installation ...13-31 14 CASE STUDIES .....................................................13-26 Equipment Replaced with Less Susceptible Equivalent Systems .................................................13-23 Battery Chargers Supplied at 240 Volts............................................................................................................................................13-18 Insulated Joint Replacement-Shorted or Leaky Units..............................14-2 Case Study #2 ..................13-16 Counterpoise – Underground...................................................................................................14-1 Excessive Common Mode Voltage ......................................................................................................................13-29 Ground Mats/Grids Around Equipment..............................................................................................................................13-17 Insulated Joint Inspection – Increased...............................................................13-22 Track Circuit Balance Optimization............................

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................16-1 Introduction ......................................................................15-5 Block Length...................................................................................................................................15-9 General......................16-4 Sources .......................................................................15-2 Quick-Start Version ...................................14-16 Case Study #13 ................................................................................................15-1 Introduction ............................................14-15 Case Study #12 .15-10 16 PLANNING GUIDELINES FOR NEW/UPGRADED POWER SYSTEMS .......15-8 Fault.....................15-5 Distance.......15-7 Steady-State....................................................................................................................................................................15-4 Sources ................15-9 Notification.......................16-4 Current – Steady State .....................14-7 Case Study #5 ..............................................................................15-2 Detailed Version ...............................................................14-11 Case Study #8 ........................................................ Wideband Shunts..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................16-4 Voltage...................................................14-14 Case Study #11 ..........................................................................................................................................................14-11 Case Study #9 .........................................................................................................14-12 Case Study #10 ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................16-5 xxx ........................................................15-6 Ballast ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................16-2 Quick-Start Version ......................................................................................................................................................................... and Tuned Couplers .................14-17 15 PLANNING GUIDELINES FOR NEW/UPGRADED RAILROAD SYSTEMS.............................................................................Case Study #4 ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................14-10 Steady-State Effects to Equipment Operation...............................................................................................................................................................................14-8 Case Study #6 ....16-2 Detailed Version .................................................14-9 Case Study #7 ..................15-4 Paths ............................................15-6 Receptors ....16-5 Current – Fault and Switching.......................................

........................................................................................................................................................................16-6 Magnetic Induction....................................16-5 Transmission ..17-3 Highway Grade Crossing Train Detection Equipment False Activation and Cab Signaling Equipment Operated at 60 Hz ...................................................................16-6 Paths ....................................................................................................16-6 Electric Induction .........................................................................17-3 Damage to SPDs from Power System Fault Magnetic Induction ..................................................16-7 Steady-State....................................................................................................................................................................................Phasing................................................................................................................................................................17-5 Conclusion ..............................................................................................17-1 Current State of Affairs................................................................19-1 xxxi ....................16-5 Balance......................................................................17-2 Long-Term Solutions ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................17-4 Future Research ..........................17-2 Short-Term Solutions .........................................................................................................................................................................................................16-7 Earth Conduction .....18-2 19 ERRATA SHEET ....................................................16-7 Fault.....................18-1 Introduction ...................................................................17-5 18 GLOSSARY...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................16-7 17 CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................................................................................................16-7 Notification......................................................................................................................................................18-2 Glossary ..........................................................................................................................................16-6 Distribution...............................................16-7 Receptors ...............................

.

.............................................................2-11 Figure 2-8 Norton Equivalent Circuit for Electric Field Coupling ................2-19 Figure 2-17 Common Mode Voltage Converted to Differential Mode .........................................2-24 Figure 2-23 FCC Part 15 Radiated Emissions Limits for Digital Devices........... Load.........2-21 Figure 2-20 Differential Mode and Common Mode Voltages on Railroad Signals.........2-11 Figure 2-9 Electric Field Induction ....3-15 xxxiii ................................................2-17 Figure 2-15 Circuit with Common Mode Signal ............2-9 Figure 2-6 Capacitive Coupling to an Object Close to an Overhead Line ................................................................................................................3-5 Figure 3-2 Overhead Transmission Structure Types ..2-23 Figure 2-22 North American Interference Model....................2-12 Figure 2-11 Magnetic Field Induction.............................2-16 Figure 2-14 Circuit with Differential Mode Signal ............................................................2-7 Figure 2-4 Ground Potential Rise ..........................................2-22 Figure 2-21 European Interference Model ................................................................................... Printed Circuit Boards and Joint Railroad Power Corridors Present the Same Geometry ..........................................2-7 Figure 2-3 Earth Conduction...........................................................................2-10 Figure 2-7 Thevenin Equivalent Circuit for Electric Field Coupling ...2-20 Figure 2-18 Circuit with Different Resistances to Ground ...........................................................................2-5 Figure 2-2 Conductive Coupling Between Power and Railroad Systems ..........................................2-18 Figure 2-16 Circuit with Common Mode Interference and Differential Mode Signal ............3-11 Figure 3-4 Distribution Transformer Feeding Single-Phase 120/240V Load from a ThreePhase wye-Connected 12.2-30 Figure 3-1 Overview of the Electric Power System....................................................................3-9 Figure 3-3 Double Circuit Line with 2 Shield Wires – 8 Total Conductors ........................2-14 Figure 2-13 Complete Circuit with Source......2-13 Figure 2-12 Shield Conductor for Magnetic Induction.............................................3-14 Figure 3-5 Distribution Pole with Telephone and Cable Television Wires .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................470/7200V Primary with a Multi-Grounded Neutral..............................................................................................................2-11 Figure 2-10 Equivalent Circuit for Magnetic Field Coupling ....................................................................................... Path to the Load.............................................2-21 Figure 2-19 Circuit with Unbalance: Common Mode Interference Converted into Differential Mode Interference......................................LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2-1 The Source-Path-Receptor Interference Model.......... and Path from the Load ...............................2-8 Figure 2-5 Wavelength Scaling – when Measured in Wavelengths (λ)......................................................................................................................

........................3-22 Figure 3-10 Zero Sequence Harmonic Current Returns in the Neutral Path ..................................................................................................................................................4-34 Figure 4-25 Occupied DC Track Circuit ..4-7 Figure 4-4 Function and Designation of Rails............................................................................................4-33 Figure 4-24 Basic Track Circuit Schematic ..........................4-24 Figure 4-18 Typical Insulated Joint Installed in Rail.4-21 Figure 4-15 Occupied Track ...........................................................&S Inc.................................................................................. Due to their (Conductive) Steel Construction ........................4-32 Figure 4-23 Basic DC Track Circuit ....................... with Polyurethane-Encapsulated Joint Bars .............................................Figure 3-6 4-Wire Multi-Grounded Feeders ..................................4-19 Figure 4-14 Unoccupied Track....................................................................................................) ......................4-30 Figure 4-22 Robinson’s 1872 Track Circuit Patent .................. Rail) ..............................).......4-5 Figure 4-2 Typical AREMA Rail Section (133 lb.............3-23 Figure 3-11 Pad Mounted Transformers ...................................4-28 Figure 4-21 Metallic Dust and Slivers Tend to Accumulate..................................3-16 Figure 3-7 3-Wire Ungrounded Feeders ..........4-11 Figure 4-9 Picture of a “Pigtail” Rail Clip and Insulating Pad on a Concrete Tie................................................................................... Long Bonds...3-21 Figure 3-9 Positive Sequence Currents Sum to Zero in a Balanced 3-Phase System ................................ Train Position ......... Instead of Crushed Rock .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................4-9 Figure 4-6 Pictures of Railroad Ties............................... Wood and Concrete ....................................................................................................................................3-24 Figure 3-12 Pole Mounted Potheads for Overhead/Underground Transitions....................................................................................................................4-23 Figure 4-17 Impedance vs......... Inc...............4-8 Figure 4-5 Guard Rails Minimize Damage Caused by Derailed Wheels ..............................4-35 xxxiv ...................................................4-17 Figure 4-13 Jointed Rails with Railhead Cadweld Bonds.............................................................................................. Inc................................. and High-Current Bonds .................................................................................4-26 Figure 4-19 Cross-Section View of a Typical Bonded Insulated Joint (Portec Rail Products..............) Here we see Rails Resting on Concrete Ties that are Themselves Set in Concrete................4-12 Figure 4-10 Modern Track Construction Techniques can Provide Very High Ballast Resistance.......................................................................4-22 Figure 4-16 Grade Crossing ...........................4-10 Figure 4-7 Bridges Pose Special Track Circuit Problems.....................S.................................................................................................................................................................4-7 Figure 4-3 Thermite Weld in Rail ......4-14 Figure 4-11 Ordinary and Insulated Rail Joints..................................................................4-11 Figure 4-8 Close-Up Pictures of a Tie-Plate.............................................................................. (U......................3-25 Figure 4-1 Picture of Railroad Tracks .......................3-18 Figure 3-8 Single Wire Earth Return Primary .....................................................................................................4-16 Figure 4-12 Welded Bondwires and Mechanically-Attached Bondwires.................................................................4-28 Figure 4-20 Sectional View of Rail and Typical Encapsulated Insulated Joint (Portec Rail Products................................................ a Spike.... Bridging Rails at Insulated Joint....... and the Installed Assembly at the Foot of a Rail...........

.............4-72 xxxv ................................................4-45 Figure 4-31 Elementary Interlocking Layouts ............................................................... Resistor.....4-46 Figure 4-32 Mechanical Interlocking Machine .........4-66 Figure 4-55 Modern Driverless Automatic Train Control Systems Promote Efficient Land Utilization in Densely Populated Urban Area (U.................................................4-48 Figure 4-34 Rack-Mounted Plug-In Vital Relays in a Relay-Based Interlocking Plant .....4-67 Figure 4-56 Primary Railroad Signal Batteries (Lalande Cells)................................................ Safetran Systems Type ST Plug-In Rely (w/o cover) ..........................4-63 Figure 4-52 Mechanical Trip Stop.4-56 Figure 4-45 Sequence of Aspects for Typical Single Direction Automatic Block System (ABS) in Multi-Track Territory.............................................................................................................................................................4-71 Figure 4-58 Simple Schematic Drawing of Cell..............................................4-60 Figure 4-47 Overlap Versus Non-Overlapping Block Systems ......4-49 Figure 4-36 Common Types of Light Signals..................................4-62 Figure 4-49 Typical CTC System......................4-70 Figure 4-57 Modern Single Lead-Acid (or Ni-Cd) Battery Cell ........................4-42 Figure 4-29 Section vs...........................4-60 Figure 4-46 Bi-directional Absolute-Permissive Block System (APB)...........4-44 Figure 4-30 Limited Clearance for Signals and other Equipment on a Rapid Transit Line.........4-64 Figure 4-53 Mechanical Trip Stop........................................4-52 Figure 4-40 Colorlight Signals................................................................................................................................................................... Carborne Element..........&S Inc................4-47 Figure 4-33 Typical Power Interlocking Machine ......................S.........................4-61 Figure 4-48 #20 Switches Allow Crossover Moves Between Tracks at 45 mph in CTC Territory...............................S............ Wayside Element .................................................................. This Greatly Enhances the Speed and Efficiency of Train Movements ........................................................4-36 Figure 4-28 Rear View of a Wayside Signal Head (Searchlight Type) .................Figure 4-26 Relay Armature and Coil...4-36 Figure 4-27 Track Circuit Showing Broken Rail .4-55 Figure 4-44 Safetran Unilens® Signal (Safetran Systems)....................................4-54 Figure 4-42 LED Wayside Signal Lamps (Safetran Systems) ..........................................................4-53 Figure 4-41 Flashing Lights from a Grade Crossing (Shown Without Visor or Background) (Safetran Systems) ........................4-65 Figure 4-54 Magnetic Trip Stop System ...........................................................................................................................4-51 Figure 4-37 Track Plan Symbology for Wayside Signals ............................ .......................................................................................................................4-49 Figure 4-35 Sophisticated Electronics Typical of Solid-State Interlocking Systems .................................... New (Left)............................&S Inc.......................................................................................................4-51 Figure 4-38 3-Aspect and 4-Aspect Signal Systems .....) .............................................................................) .....................................................................................................4-62 Figure 4-50 Complex Interlocking Control Panel on Heavy Rail Rapid Transit System...........................................4-54 Figure 4-43 Rear View of a Wayside Signal Head (Searchlight Type) ..................4-63 Figure 4-51 Computer-Based Operations Control Center for a Light-Rail Transit System (U.......................................................................... and Discharged (Right) ............................... and Battery Choke....................................4-52 Figure 4-39 Colorlight signals (Safetran Systems) ..... Block .........

........... Inc......................................................................................) .....................4-88 Figure 4-69 Typical Electronic Track Circuit ............................................T.......................................................................... Inc..................) (U.......S.........4-87 Figure 4-68 Elementary Coded DC Track Circuit ............................................. and 4 ..................................4-135 Figure 4-89 Deteriorated Insulation and Reduced Clearances on Gauge Plates .................................4-131 Figure 4-85 Rock Slide in an Area Protected by an Overhead Slide Fence (Note the many insulators on the pole arms.S...........................................................................4-91 Figure 4-70 Pulse Timing of Electro Code II......................4-96 Figure 4-73 Single Rail Track Circuit ........4-102 Figure 4-76 Diagram of Impedance Bonds and Insulated Joints .........................S...........................................................................................4-93 Figure 4-72 Vane Relay (Safetran Systems) .........) ................. Inc.............................................4-101 Figure 4-75 Double-Rail AC Vane-Relay Track Circuits ...................4-123 Figure 4-83 Schematic of Lights and Shunts .............................................4-104 Figure 4-78 Impedance Bonds...................................4-102 Figure 4-77 Large Shelf Relays Characteristic of an All-AC Signaling System ... Showing Track Wires ..........4-136 Figure 4-90 Typical Hand-Operated Switch with Circuit Controller (silver box in upper right corner).......................................................................................................................4-99 Figure 4-74 Single-Rail and Double-Rail Track Circuits ....................... 3...........................................4-92 Figure 4-71 Microtrax Modulation Pattern.4-107 Figure 4-79 Cab Signaling and Automatic Train Control were Well-Established Technologies by 1940 ...............................................................................................................Figure 4-59 Drawing of Typical Track Circuit Battery Choke (Safetran Systems Corp..................&S...............................................4-117 Figure 4-82 Typical Half-Barrier Highway Crossing Gate Mechanism...........................O....&S.............4-124 Figure 4-84 Typical Wayside Hazard Detector Location having Hotbox and Hot Wheel Detectors...........................................................................4-134 Figure 4-87 Gauge Plates and Gauge Rods............) .........................................................4-137 Figure 4-91 Hand-Operated Switch Machine..................................)................................................................................................&S.4-74 Figure 4-62 Typical Instrument Case Containing Plug-in Vital Relays..4-84 Figure 4-66 Center-Fed DC Track Circuit ........................................4-115 Figure 4-81 Track a Island.................................................................4-73 Figure 4-61 Typical Instrument Case Containing Shelf Mounted Vital Relays................................................................................................................................................4-138 Figure 4-92 Typical Electric Yard Switch Machine with Circuit Controller (U.............................................4-72 Figure 4-60 Transmitter Coupling Transformer and Capacitor ...........................................................................................................4-85 Figure 4-67 Polarized DC Track Circuits for Transmission of Signal Control Information via the Rails.................................4-135 Figure 4-88 Insulation of Switch Gage Plates and Rods Prevents Unintended Short Circuiting of Track Circuits (U.4-79 Figure 4-64 Shunting Efficiency of Track Circuit..........................................................................4-132 Figure 4-86 Typical End-of-Train-Monitor (E...)......4-139 xxxvi ..........4-80 Figure 4-65 Elementary Steady Energy DC Track Circuit ...........................................................4-75 Figure 4-63 Shunting of the Track Circuit .....................................................................4-110 Figure 4-80 GCP Block Diagram .....................................................M...........................................

.........................................................................4-158 Figure 4-111 Foreign Energy on Track Circuits or other Signal Facilities may appear when Electric Switch Heaters Become Grounded to the Running Rails ................................. Certain Defects are Undetectable in the Track Circuit .......................5-6 Figure 6-1 Track Circuit Coupling Network .7-8 Figure 7-2 IEEE Std 80-1986 Guideline and IEC 479-1........................................ 1994 .............. “Vital” Redundant Systems .....................4-149 Figure 4-105 Track Circuits Provide Broken Rail Detection Capability.............4-148 Figure 4-103 Impedance Bonds with Electric Traction ........................................................................................................................ 1994)........................................Figure 4-93 Typical Dual-Control Electric Switch Machine .......................................................................................... Flat Grounding Strips ..... 100 Hz Track Circuits............6-7 Figure 7-1 Time/Current Zones of Effects of AC Currents 15 Hz to 100 Hz (refer to Table 7-2 for instructions)(IEC 479-1: Figure 14......7-15 Figure 7-5 IEEE-80 Fault Touch Potential Model ..................... Impedance Bonds Rated 300 Amps per Rail ........... Impedance Bond Rated 3000 Amps per Rail.......................................5-4 Figure 5-2 Abnormal Operation: “Classic” vs.... 1-5 kHz Track Circuits.4-147 Figure 4-102 Electric Traction Fed by Overhead Wire and Contact Rail ..................................................4-155 Figure 4-108 Entrance Terminals with Wide....................4-140 Figure 4-96 Typical Construction of Impedance Bond Used on Power Frequency Track Circuits in DC Propulsion Territory ... 12 kV......................................... 25 Hz Propulsion Territory..................................Survival Body Current .4-145 Figure 4-100 Typical Impedance Bond Layout for Audio-Frequency Track Circuits....................... Red Arrestors are Line-to-Ground....................7-21 xxxvii ...................................4-156 Figure 4-110 Adequate Clearance Between Signal Equipment and Overhead Lines Must be Maintained.. as Shown by this Cracked Joint Bar Bridged with a Bondwire............................... 750 VDC Propulsion Territory....................................7-9 Figure 7-3 Values of Total Body Impedance Hand-Hand or Hand-Foot for AC 50/60 Hz (Trend Lines Through Data Values Presented in IEC 479-1)......................................... However...............................................................................................................4-156 Figure 4-109 Effect of Multiple Grounds on Track Circuits ........................4-149 Figure 4-104 Various Wayside Signal Mountings ....4-151 Figure 4-106 Although Signal Systems and Track Circuits are Based Upon Fail-safe Design Principles...4-159 Figure 5-1 Elementary Steady Energy DC Track Circuit .........................................4-152 Figure 4-107 Typical Lightning Arrestors................................... No System Offers Protection Against All Conceivable Hazards..4-142 Figure 4-97 Typical Impedance Bond Layout.............................................4-143 Figure 4-98 Various Types of Resonating Circuits for Power Frequency Impedance Bonds .....4-140 Figure 4-95 Electro-Hydraulic Switch Operator (RTI..............................................) ..............................7-13 Figure 7-4 Electrostatic Coupling to Conductor Touched by Man .......... 750 VDC Propulsion Territory...................................................................................................................................... 100 Hz Track Circuits................4-145 Figure 4-101 Electrolysis of Underground Structures Caused by Unwanted DC Current Flow..................4-144 Figure 4-99 Typical Impedance Bond Layout............................................................ Impedance Bonds Rated 2500 Amps Per Rail................................................................................ Blue Arrestors are Line-to-Line .......4-139 Figure 4-94 Typical Electro-Pneumatic Switch Machine and Valve................................................................... Inc................

............11-22 Figure 11-8 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground...............................11-4 Figure 11-2 Horizontal Power Line Configuration ..........................................8-35 Figure 8-11 IJ Resistance from Voltage and Current.. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ..........................11-23 Figure 11-10 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground..................................................8-42 Figure 10-1 Railroad AC Power Interference Flow Chart ....7-22 Figure 7-7 IEEE Std 80-1986 Guideline for 99...... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m ......................................11-23 Figure 11-11 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.....5% Safe Touch Potential (50 Kg Person)... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance........11-21 Figure 11-6 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.....8-26 Figure 8-7 Degraded IJ Converts Common Mode Interference into Differential Mode .... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ...........8-28 Figure 8-8 Insulated Joint Tester .......................7-31 Figure 7-9 Railroad Signal Equipment with Marginal Working Clearance ..... With Shield Wire...........7-22 Figure 7-8 Sample of a Working Clearances Card ....................................................................................................... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m...11-21 Figure 11-7 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground................ Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m.............8-31 Figure 8-9 Use of Insulated Joint Tester... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m......................... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m .............11-22 Figure 11-9 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground... With Shield Wire..................................................11-6 Figure 11-4 Residual Current from Cramer Data ...................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance........................................... Without Shield Wire...........11-24 Figure 11-13 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground....... Positive Side.... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.....................................................8-11 Figure 8-4 Hand Held Audio Frequency Spectrum Analyzer ....... Negative Side..............11-24 Figure 11-12 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance............. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance............. With Shield Wire.....8-32 Figure 8-10 Photograph of IJ Leakage Current Test ...........8-37 Figure 8-13 Arrester Testing .......... Without Shield Wire.. Negative Side.................. Positive Side......................11-7 Figure 11-5 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground...8-5 Figure 8-2 Effects of Track Circuit Unbalance on Magnetically Induced Voltage ......................... Positive Side........................................................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.........................Figure 7-6 IEEE Std 80-1986 Guideline for 99....11-25 xxxviii ............8-36 Figure 8-12 IJ Resistance from Voltage and Current – Adjusted for Tested Current Probe .............10-4 Figure 11-1 Vertical Power Line Configuration .. Without Shield Wire............ Without Shield Wire......... Negative Side................................................................................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance. Negative Side............ Vertical Circuit with Unbalance....................... Negative Side.................................. Without Shield Wire...............8-18 Figure 8-6 Magnetically Induced AC Rail Voltages................................. Without Shield Wire... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance....8-6 Figure 8-3 “Hz” Button on Fluke 87 to Display Dominant Frequency of AC Voltage .8-12 Figure 8-5 Spectrum of Rail-to-Ground Voltage Caused by AC Distribution Line.........................................7-31 Figure 8-1 Magnetically Induced Rail Voltage ...11-5 Figure 11-3 Delta Power Line Configuration.........5% Safe Touch Potential (70 Kg Person).. Positive Side............................ Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m .....................

. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.............. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance........ Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m... Positive Side..... Negative Side...11-30 Figure 11-24 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground............... Positive Side.. With Shield Wire.......11-34 Figure 11-32 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.11-28 Figure 11-20 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground...... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m . Positive Side.. Negative Side. Negative Side.11-32 Figure 11-28 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.......... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.................. Without Shield Wire.. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance....................... Negative Side.........11-32 Figure 11-29 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m . With Shield Wire... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ........ Positive Side............11-28 Figure 11-21 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.. Without Shield Wire... Positive Side.. Negative Side............ Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m... With Shield Wire. Negative Side... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance. Negative Side... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m.................. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m .. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m ............. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............11-26 Figure 11-17 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.11-34 xxxix . Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m... Without Shield Wire..... Positive Side..........11-33 Figure 11-30 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground......................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance........... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.............. Without Shield Wire........... Negative Side..11-26 Figure 11-16 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance........11-31 Figure 11-26 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.11-29 Figure 11-22 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.......... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ... Without Shield Wire................11-27 Figure 11-18 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground............................. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance........................ Negative Side...11-29 Figure 11-23 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground............11-27 Figure 11-19 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground........... Without Shield Wire.. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m........... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m ......11-31 Figure 11-27 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m ........ Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m .... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m ................. With Shield Wire... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance...... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m............... Positive Side.................... With Shield Wire.... With Shield Wire... With Shield Wire... Without Shield Wire. With Shield Wire... Without Shield Wire....... Without Shield Wire.................Figure 11-14 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m........................... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m ......11-33 Figure 11-31 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.... Positive Side............11-30 Figure 11-25 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance................ Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.................... With Shield Wire...11-25 Figure 11-15 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground. Positive Side. Without Shield Wire.... Positive Side.. Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m .... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.......

....... Without Shield Wire................ Positive Side................ Negative Side......... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m............ Negative Side........................................................... 1 Mile Blocks .. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.................. 1 Mile Blocks........... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.............. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance......................11-38 Figure 11-41 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................11-40 Figure 11-44 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................11-37 Figure 11-38 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground........ Without Shield Wire.............................11-41 Figure 11-47 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............................. Negative Side...............................11-35 Figure 11-35 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground....................... Earth Resistivity 10 ohmm .......................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance..... Earth Resistivity 10 ohmm.............................................................................. With Shield Wire..... 1 Mile Blocks......... Positive Side......... With Shield Wire................. 1 Mile Blocks........ Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.......11-37 Figure 11-39 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.................................................. Positive Side.. Without Shield Wire...... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............... 1 Mile Blocks............................................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............... Without Shield Wire..................... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m....................11-36 Figure 11-37 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground. Without Shield Wire..... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..................... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m ......................................................................... Without Shield Wire....................... Negative Side.......... Earth Resistivity 100 ohmm . With Shield Wire.......................... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m .......................... Positive Side............ Positive Side.........................11-39 Figure 11-43 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ................................. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ........................ Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.................... Negative Side......... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.......................... Negative Side..... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance........................ Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............ Vertical Circuit with Unbalance............... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m....... With Shield Wire..................................................................................................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.....................11-36 Figure 11-36 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground....11-39 Figure 11-42 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ. Negative Side................................................. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ..11-40 Figure 11-45 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ................... Positive Side....... Earth Resistivity 100 ohmm .........11-42 xl ... With Shield Wire................................... Negative Side..... Without Shield Wire................... 1 Mile Blocks.........................................Figure 11-33 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground....... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m........... With Shield Wire. Without Shield Wire.......11-38 Figure 11-40 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground.......11-41 Figure 11-46 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ...................... With Shield Wire...... Positive Side.......11-35 Figure 11-34 Maximum Average Line Current for 25V Rail-to-Ground. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance...................................... 1 Mile Blocks...... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m........ Earth Resistivity 1000 ohmm ............................................................................................................................................................

.... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.................................... Without Shield Wire...................11-49 Figure 11-62 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance............. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance......... 1 Mile Blocks.......... Negative Side.......................................... Negative Side......... Negative Side............ With Shield Wire.11-46 Figure 11-56 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ...... Negative Side....................11-45 Figure 11-55 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............ 1 Mile Blocks ..11-45 Figure 11-54 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ......................................... With Shield Wire.. With Shield Wire...... Positive Side.................... With Shield Wire............11-42 Figure 11-49 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......... Positive Side......................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance................11-44 Figure 11-52 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............................Figure 11-48 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ....... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m........................................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..................................................... Without Shield Wire........................11-47 Figure 11-59 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance....................................................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance....... With Shield Wire... Earth Resistivity 100 ohmm........11-43 Figure 11-51 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................... Positive Side............................................ Negative Side............... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance............. 1 Mile Blocks ........... Earth Resistivity 100 ohmm......... 1 Mile Blocks...... Positive Side... 1 Mile Blocks.............. 1 Mile Blocks .........11-44 Figure 11-53 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........................ Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m....... Positive Side...... Negative Side....... Positive Side................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohmm......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m....... 1 Mile Blocks .. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m....... Without Shield Wire........ 1 Mile Blocks............11-47 Figure 11-58 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.............. Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m...................11-49 xli ............. With Shield Wire........ Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.............................. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..... Positive Side... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance............. 1 Mile Blocks............................. 1 Mile Blocks............... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m.... 1 Mile Blocks... 1 Mile Blocks.....................11-46 Figure 11-57 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ................. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m......... With Shield Wire.......................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance................ 1 Mile Blocks . Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..........................................11-43 Figure 11-50 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.............. Without Shield Wire..... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m...... 1 Mile Blocks ..................................................... 1 Mile Blocks................... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m........... Positive Side..............11-48 Figure 11-60 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........................................11-48 Figure 11-61 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................. Without Shield Wire........... Without Shield Wire....... With Shield Wire................................................................................ With Shield Wire..... Negative Side.........

..................... Negative Side.... Negative Side. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m..... Without Shield Wire...............Figure 11-63 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ...................................... 1 Mile Blocks............... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.......11-53 Figure 11-70 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ... With Shield Wire.................. 1 Mile Blocks.... Positive Side......... 1 Mile Blocks......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.................. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m........... Positive Side........ 1 Mile Blocks..11-52 Figure 11-69 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ...............11-52 Figure 11-68 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m...........11-53 Figure 11-71 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.. With Shield Wire..... With Shield Wire....11-54 Figure 11-72 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............11-56 Figure 11-77 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..... 1 Mile Blocks.........11-56 Figure 11-76 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ................. Without Shield Wire...................11-51 Figure 11-67 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......... With Shield Wire.. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.... 1 Mile Blocks. With Shield Wire.... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.. Without Shield Wire.......... 1 Mile Blocks............. 1 Mile Blocks ......................... Negative Side..........11-55 Figure 11-74 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............................................................11-50 Figure 11-65 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.. 1 Mile Blocks. Positive Side............. Negative Side..... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m........... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.. 1 Mile Blocks..11-55 Figure 11-75 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.............. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance......................... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m...................11-57 xlii ............. Negative Side.............................................................. 1 Mile Blocks....................... With Shield Wire... Positive Side... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m....... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m.......... Without Shield Wire.. 1 Mile Blocks.......... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance................................................11-51 Figure 11-66 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m........... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m....... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance......................................................................................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance..... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.......................................... Negative Side................ Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance...... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.... Negative Side..................................11-50 Figure 11-64 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..... With Shield Wire.. 1 Mile Blocks..... 2 Mile Blocks.............11-54 Figure 11-73 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............... Without Shield Wire......................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m....................... Negative Side....... Positive Side........................ Without Shield Wire.......... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance............ Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m.................................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance... 1 Mile Blocks..................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance................... Positive Side. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m... With Shield Wire................ Positive Side................... Without Shield Wire......................

.Figure 11-78 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ................................. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m............... Without Shield Wire.......................................... Without Shield Wire..........................................................11-59 Figure 11-82 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..................... 2 Mile Blocks....... 2 Mile Blocks.................. Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.......... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m........................... Without Shield Wire.................. With Shield Wire........... Positive Side..................................... Negative Side......... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.11-62 Figure 11-88 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ. Without Shield Wire..............11-63 Figure 11-91 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..............11-64 xliii .... 2 Mile Blocks.. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance. Vertical Circuit with Unbalance...................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.................. 2 Mile Blocks................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance........................11-61 Figure 11-86 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.......................... 2 Mile Blocks ..................................................11-60 Figure 11-85 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......... 2 Mile Blocks ................................ Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.........11-58 Figure 11-80 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..... 2 Mile Blocks.......... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m...... 2 Mile Blocks........................11-57 Figure 11-79 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..... Negative Side.. Positive Side............. Positive Side.. Negative Side...... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance........................ Vertical Circuit with Unbalance..... Earth Resistivity 100 ohmm................... Without Shield Wire........ Positive Side....... Positive Side............... Positive Side..................... Negative Side. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohmm................................ With Shield Wire................. Without Shield Wire................... With Shield Wire............................... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance...................... 2 Mile Blocks ............. Without Shield Wire...............11-61 Figure 11-87 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............................................................ With Shield Wire................... 2 Mile Blocks................................... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m................ With Shield Wire............... Negative Side...................... Positive Side............... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance........ Earth Resistivity 10 ohmm....................................... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance...................................11-64 Figure 11-92 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.....................................................11-62 Figure 11-89 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ....11-58 Figure 11-81 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.. 2 Mile Blocks.......... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.......... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m............ Negative Side......................................................... 2 Mile Blocks ...... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m......... 2 Mile Blocks .... Negative Side. 2 Mile Blocks......... Vertical Circuit with Unbalance.......11-63 Figure 11-90 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ......... Without Shield Wire.................................... Positive Side....................................................... With Shield Wire............. Earth Resistivity 100 ohmm.. 2 Mile Blocks....................... Without Shield Wire.......................................... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m........11-60 Figure 11-84 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ....11-59 Figure 11-83 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..

.............................. With Shield Wire.................. With Shield Wire.................... 2 Mile Blocks.......Figure 11-93 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........... Without Shield Wire.... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.......................... Positive Side..........................11-70 Figure 11-104 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................. With Shield Wire.... 2 Mile Blocks.. 2 Mile Blocks .......... Positive Side..11-65 Figure 11-94 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ...................... 2 Mile Blocks...................................... Positive Side............11-68 Figure 11-100 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ................. Without Shield Wire.. 2 Mile Blocks ..... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m...... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance...... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance...... 2 Mile Blocks.. With Shield Wire.. 2 Mile Blocks...............11-66 Figure 11-96 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.................................. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m....................... Negative Side.......11-72 xliv ....... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..... Without Shield Wire..... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance..........11-65 Figure 11-95 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..11-71 Figure 11-106 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ............. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance..........11-69 Figure 11-103 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ....................................11-67 Figure 11-98 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........................ Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.............. 2 Mile Blocks........ With Shield Wire.. With Shield Wire................ Negative Side.... Positive Side... 2 Mile Blocks....................... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m...... Negative Side............ Without Shield Wire..................... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance......................... Negative Side.............. Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.................... Negative Side......... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance... Without Shield Wire.... With Shield Wire............... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.............. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m................................. 2 Mile Blocks .... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m.. Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m.................................... Positive Side............................................................................11-71 Figure 11-107 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..11-70 Figure 11-105 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......................................... Positive Side......... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m.......11-66 Figure 11-97 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ......................... 2 Mile Blocks................. 2 Mile Blocks........... 2 Mile Blocks........... Negative Side.....11-68 Figure 11-101 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.......... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m..... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance...................................................... Without Shield Wire........... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance............... Without Shield Wire.................. Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance.............. Negative Side........... Horizontal Circuit with Unbalance...........................................11-67 Figure 11-99 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ....... 2 Mile Blocks................ Without Shield Wire.............................. Negative Side. 2 Mile Blocks.... Positive Side. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m.......11-69 Figure 11-102 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ..........................

........11-75 Figure 11-115 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Vertical Circuit........ Without Shield Wire ................ With Shield Wire........................... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m ....................... 110-lb Person............11-78 Figure 11-121 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Delta Circuit...... Negative Side....... Positive Side........... With Shield Wire..... Negative Side.......11-77 Figure 11-118 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Circuit........11-75 Figure 11-114 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Vertical Circuit..11-79 Figure 11-123 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Delta Circuit....11-77 Figure 11-119 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Circuit...............11-80 Figure 11-124 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Delta Circuit....... 155-lb Person....................... Negative Side.............................. Positive Side.. Negative Side...............11-74 Figure 11-112 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ........................... Positive Side..........11-78 Figure 11-120 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Circuit.11-73 Figure 11-111 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance....... Positive Side.......... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m... Power-to-Track Distance for Safe Track Touch Potential....... 2 Mile Blocks. Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m ..................11-72 Figure 11-109 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ.... Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance. Positive Side..... 2 Mile Blocks........................Figure 11-108 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ. 2 Mile Blocks...... Without Shield Wire ....... With Shield Wire...................... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m......... Negative Side............11-73 Figure 11-110 Maximum Average Line Current for 5V Rail-to-Rail with Shorted IJ....... Power-to-Track Distance for Safe Track Touch Potential.. 2 Mile Blocks........ Positive Side.... With Shield Wire ............. Positive Side.. With Shield Wire. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance.... Negative Side........... Without Shield Wire....... Earth Resistivity 10 ohm-m..................................................... With Shield Wire........... 2 Mile Blocks.................. With Shield Wire .......... Negative Side................................... With Shield Wire ...............11-80 Figure 11-125 Allowable Fault Current Vs...... With Shield Wire....... Positive Side............... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance..................11-76 Figure 11-116 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Vertical Circuit.. Horizontal Delta Circuit with Unbalance......11-76 Figure 11-117 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Circuit.................. Without Shield Wire ..... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m...11-79 Figure 11-122 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Horizontal Delta Circuit................. With Shield Wire .........................................11-81 Figure 11-126 Allowable Fault Current Vs........ Negative Side.... Positive Side................. With Shield Wire...11-74 Figure 11-113 Current to Person Touching Signal Pole Line Capacitively Coupled to Power Line for a Vertical Circuit... Without Shield Wire ..11-81 xlv ...... Without Shield Wire.

.......................12-7 Figure 12-5 Geometry for Conductor and Observation Point Above the Earth........................... Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m . Power-to-Track Distance for Safe Track Touch Potential.......... 110-lb Person..................................................................12-11 Figure 12-6 Complex Image Plane Geometry ...........................................12-25 Figure 12-18 Longitudinal Electric Field Excitation of Rails and Induced Voltages ................... End of Rail-to-Remote Earth ...12-14 Figure 12-8 Distances from Power Conductors to Observation Point................. Earth Resistivity 100 ohm-m .................... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m ....................................................11-82 Figure 11-128 Allowable Fault Current Vs........................12-22 Figure 12-15 Summary of Vertical Double Circuit Phase Assignments ............ End of Rail-to-Remote Earth ............................11-82 Figure 11-129 Allowable Fault Current Vs.........11-84 Figure 11-132 Fault-Induced Rail Current Vs........................................................................................................................................11-84 Figure 12-1 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form..............12-18 Figure 12-12 Normalized Residual Component of LEF for Single Vertical Circuit with No Shield Wires .......12-31 Figure 12-24 Ballast Measurement Data Sheet........................................11-83 Figure 11-130 Allowable Fault Current Vs..........................12-19 Figure 12-13 Measured Phase Current Deviation from the Circuit Mean .................... Page 1 of 4.........................12-30 Figure 12-23 Ballast Resistivity Test Arrangement ..... Power-to-Track Distance for Safe Track Touch Potential.....................12-26 Figure 12-19 Equivalent Circuit of Incremental Segment of Rail ............................................................................................... Power-to-Track Distance for Safe Track Touch Potential.....................12-32 xlvi .................................. Page 4 of 4......12-13 Figure 12-7 Approximate Image Depth for Earth Return Conductor.................12-17 Figure 12-11 Magnitude of Balanced Component of LEF for Single Circuit Vertical Circuit without Shield Wires...................................12-29 Figure 12-21 Normalized Voltages........12-15 Figure 12-9 Phasor Components of Total Longitudinal Electric Field (LEF) for Figure 128 ....................12-4 Figure 12-2 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form.................................................12-16 Figure 12-10 Normalized Balanced Component of LEF for Single Circuit Horizontal Line with No Shield Wires ...........................................11-83 Figure 11-131 Calculated Single Phase to Ground Fault-Induced Rail Current for Long Exposure ....................................... Earth Resistivity 1000 ohm-m .........................................................12-23 Figure 12-16 Normalized Balanced Component of LEF for Double Circuit Vertical Center Point Symmetric Line with No Shield Wires ...........................12-30 Figure 12-22 Normalized Voltages............ Page 2 of 4............ 155-lb Person...................................................................................Figure 11-127 Allowable Fault Current Vs..............................12-24 Figure 12-17 Normalized Balanced Component of LEF for Double Circuit Vertical Super Bundle with No Shield Wires.............................................12-27 Figure 12-20 Normalized Voltages.......................................................................... 155-lb Person................................ End of Rail-to-Remote Earth ....12-6 Figure 12-4 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form.............................. Power-to-Track Distance for Safe Track Touch Potential.........................12-21 Figure 12-14 Predicted Rail-to-Ground Voltage Including 3% Current Unbalance ....................................12-5 Figure 12-3 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form................................. 110-lb Person......................................... Page 3 of 4...................................... Exposure Length ...........................

..12-68 xlvii .......... but Without a Degraded Insulator .................................................................................................................................0.12-53 Figure 12-44 Calculated Rail Voltages for the Same Conditions as Figure 12-43.............................12-53 Figure 12-45 Calculated Rail Voltages .................0......................................................12-37 Figure 12-30 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for All 10-ohm IJ’s .........................................................12-65 Figure 12-52 Calculated Rail-to-Rail Voltage Profile Over the Length of the Track Circuit..........................................................12-41 Figure 12-36 Rail-to-Ground Voltage vs Resistance of IJ’s at Zero Reference ................................................................. Degraded IJ Resistance for 1...............................................0............................................................................................................................12-50 Figure 12-43 Calculated Rail-to-Rail Voltages .........................................................12-56 Figure 12-47 Oscillograph Recording of the Rail-to-Rail Voltage on Each Side of the Insulated Joint ......................................12-34 Figure 12-27 Measured Resistance of Rail Insulated Joints............12-42 Figure 12-37 Rail-to-Ground Voltage Profile With One Shorted Insulated Joint .....12-48 Figure 12-42 Flexible Current Probe Being used to Measure Rail Current................12-60 Figure 12-50 Affect of Equipment Impedance on Induced Rail-to-Rail Voltage..........................................................................................................................................12-33 Figure 12-26 Equivalent Circuit at Metal-Electrolyte Interface............................Figure 12-25 Measured Ballast Resistivity at Talmadge..........................12-45 Figure 12-40 Measured Voltages at the Three Signal Locations on the Westbound Track.....................................12-47 Figure 12-41 Sketch Showing the Location and Labeling of the Voltage Measurements Relative to the Rails ...................................................................................... Degraded IJ Resistance for One Mile Track Circuits ................12-35 Figure 12-28 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for All 70-ohm IJ’s ..........12-54 Figure 12-46 Track Sketches......12-40 Figure 12-34 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for 30-ohm IJ Resistance at Location 0...........................................................................................................................................12-39 Figure 12-33 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for 70-ohm IJ Resistance at Location 0.12-44 Figure 12-39 Conversion of Rail-Ground Voltage to Rail-Rail Voltage vs..................................................................12-36 Figure 12-29 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for All 30-ohm IJ’s .............................12-41 Figure 12-35 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for 10-ohm IJ Resistance at Location 0....................12-57 Figure 12-48 Calculated Induced 60 Hz Rail-to-Rail Voltage at Insulated Joint Locations for Selected Operational Conditions .12-59 Figure 12-49 Calculated Results for the Same Four Analyzed Conditions of Figure 1248..........................12-43 Figure 12-38 Conversion of Rail-Ground Voltage to Rail-Rail Voltage vs...................................... Ohio ....... Except with the Ballast Resistivity Reduced to 3 Ohm·Kft ...................................12-38 Figure 12-31 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for 10-ohm IJ’s .......................................... Normalized by “NonPerturbed” Rail-to-Ground Voltage ....................................................5 mile track circuits.........12-62 Figure 12-51 Rail-to-Rail Voltage with a Shorted Track Arrester........................12-66 Figure 12-53 Sketch of Track Circuit for Coupling of Interference from Distribution Neutral Through Shorted Track Arrester .12-39 Figure 12-32 Calculated Rail-to-Ground Voltage at IJ Locations for 10-ohm IJ’s .................

............................12-69 Figure 12-55 Power Line Voltage Coupling to Pole-Mounted Signal Conductor by Electric-Field Coupling ...............13-32 Figure 14-1 Capacitor Bank ............12-93 Figure 12-71 Calculated Fault-Induced Rail Current for Several Fault Locations..................................................................................................12-99 Figure 12-77 Calculated Fault-Induced Rail-to-Earth Voltage for Several Fault Locations....12-94 Figure 12-72 Calculated Fault-Induced Rail Current for Several Fault Locations.......................12-92 Figure 12-70 Single-Phase to Ground Fault Current vs.....................................12-76 Figure 12-58 Exposure of Rail System to 138-kV Transmission Line – Typical Cross Section .......................................................12-81 Figure 12-63 Predicted Open Circuit Voltage of Electric Induction Excited Signal Pole Line Circuits ............................................13-31 Figure 13-2 Railroad Signal Equipment with Marginal Working Clearance ........................................ and Vertical Configurations [84]................................... Fault Location ...............12-77 Figure 12-59 Calculated Space Potential For 138-kV Transmission Line of Figure 12-58 ..12-87 Figure 12-67 Fault-Induced Sequence of Track Arrester Firing Along Corridor...........................................................................................................................................................................................................15-5 Figure 15-2 Typical Frequency Spectrum Measured Rail-to-Rail ............................... Equilateral Delta.....................................................................................................................12-89 Figure 12-68 Fault-Induced Current at Fired Arresters ........12-73 Figure 12-56 Lateral Profiles of the Electric Field at Ground Level for Lines of Flat............. Open or Blown on Right) .........................................................................................................................................................12-97 Figure 12-75 Relation Between Safe Touch Potential and Induced Voltage vs...................................................................................12-98 Figure 12-76 Calculated Fault-Induced Rail-to-Earth Voltage for Several Fault Locations...........14-18 Figure 15-1 Moving Track Alignment Away from the Source can Lead to Increased Interference if a Buried Counterpoise was Used to Mitigate Magnetic Induction .......................................12-78 Figure 12-60 Electric Induction Voltage on Isolated Wire and Current to 1500-Ohm Person versus Excited Length of Wire ..........................................12-85 Figure 12-65 Fault-Induced Rail Voltage Profiles with and Without a Fired Arrester.................14-15 Figure 14-2 Fused Disconnects (Closed on Left............................................................................12-94 Figure 12-73 Fault-Induced Touch-Potential Safety Guidelines (70 kg person) ....... Uniform Soil Resistivity ...........12-100 Figure 13-1 Sample of a Working Clearances Card ....12-96 Figure 12-74 Fault-Induced Touch-Potential Safety Guidelines (50 kg person) ....12-86 Figure 12-66 Fault-Induced Arrester Voltages ................................................Figure 12-54 Secondary Neutral to Earth Voltage [75] ......................15-7 xlviii ..................................12-74 Figure 12-57 Current to Person Touching Conductor that is Capacitively Coupled to Power Line .......................12-79 Figure 12-61 Effect of Total Body Impedance on Shock Current from Electric Induction Excited Isolated Conductor .............................................12-90 Figure 12-69 Calculated Fault-Induced Rail Current for Long Exposure .12-82 Figure 12-64 Fault-Induced Voltage Across Track Lightning Arresters ..........................................................14-16 Figure 14-3 Shorted Surge Arrester...................................................12-80 Figure 12-62 Predicted Current to Earth Through 1500 Ohm Person From Electric Induction Excited Pole Line Signal Circuit.....................................................................................................................

Page 3 of 4.............................16-11 Figure 16-4 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form...16-12 xlix .......... Page 2 of 4.......................15-11 Figure 15-4 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form............15-14 Figure 16-1 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form................. Page 4 of 4............................................ Page 3 of 4.............Figure 15-3 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form.15-12 Figure 15-5 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form......... Page 2 of 4.....15-13 Figure 15-6 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form..... Page 1 of 4....16-9 Figure 16-2 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form...............16-10 Figure 16-3 Electromagnetic Compatibility Information Form.................. Page 1 of 4..................... Page 4 of 4......

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.......................................................................8-3 Table 8-3 Locating Conducted Sources.............................................2-28 Table 2-6 EMC Requirements Using Basic Standards ...................11-15 Table 11-6 AREMA Guidelines for Interference Tolerance of Selected Signal Equipment..............7-5 Table 7-2 Time/Current Zones for AC 15 Hz to 100 Hz (IEC 479-1: Table 4.......................................................................7-26 Table 7-6 Summary of International Electric Field Standards – kV/m......7-24 Table 7-4 Summary of ICNIRP 50/60 Hz Exposure Guidelines.........................................................2-3 Table 2-2 Common Mode and Differential Mode Coupling....................................................................................................................11-11 Table 11-3 Personnel Safety for Steady State Electric Induction to Open Wire Signal Pole Lines ...........................................................................................2-4 Table 2-3 Essential EMC Tests ....................................11-18 Table 12-1 Westbound Track IJ Resistance Measurements (June 2000) ..................7-7 Table 7-3 State Regulations that Limit Field Strengths on Transmission Line Rights-ofWay ..............3-3 Table 3-2 Sources of Current Entering Earth from the Power System .....................4-86 Table 6-1 Damage Table...........................................................................2-25 Table 2-4 Performance (failure) Criteria .................................7-28 Table 7-8 Comparison of MPR II and TCO Guidelines...........................................8-3 Table 8-2 Resolving Track Circuit Unbalance............................LIST OF TABLES Table 2-1 Coupling Mechanisms Between Power Lines and Railroads .........................................7-30 Table 8-1 Diagnostic Flow Chart Tests ..........................1..........................................................................................12-49 li ..........................................................................................................................................................................8-3 Table 8-4 Voltage versus dBV Equivalence..............2-29 Table 3-1 Component Parts of the Power System............2-27 Table 2-5 Basic EMC Standards..............................6-4 Table 7-1 Reactions to Various Levels of Current[33] ............................................................................................5.................................11-13 Table 11-4 Personnel Safety for Faulted Power-line Magnetic Field Induction to Rails .....................................11-14 Table 11-5 Power-Line Fault Induced Rail Current for Lightning Arrester Survival .. 1994) .............................. Taken from AREMA C&S Manual Part 11......................................7-27 Table 7-7 Summary of International Magnetic Field Standards – Gauss (rms) ......................................................................................................8-4 Table 11-1 Personnel Safety for Steady State Magnetic Field Induction to Rails..........11-8 Table 11-2 Signal System Equipment Compatibility for Steady State Magnetic Field Induction to Rails.7-26 Table 7-5 Summary of ACGIH 60 Hz Exposure Guidelines ...............................................................................................3-4 Table 4-1 Signal Aspect (Color) Displayed for Polarized DC Track Circuits..........................................................................

....16-3 Table 16-2 Changes that tend to Decrease AC Interference Levels (Good Things)..6 feet) from Three Configurations of 525 kV Transmission Lines ...........................................................15-3 Table 16-1 Changes that tend to Increase AC Interference Levels (Bad Things).............................................................................................................................12-68 Table 12-3 Values of Field Strength at 20 meters (65..........................13-5 Table 13-3 Steady-State Effects to Equipment Operation Mitigation – Power System and Railroad.........................12-81 Table 13-1 Excessive Common Mode Voltage Mitigation – Power System And Railroad........................................................................................................................................................12-74 Table 12-4 Signal Pole-Line Circuits Used to Evaluate Available Electric Induction Coupled Shock Current.....15-3 Table 15-2 Changes that tend to Decrease Ac Interference Levels (Good Things) ............................................................13-6 Table 15-1 Changes that tend to Increase Ac Interference Levels (Bad Things) ....13-4 Table 13-2 Equipment Damage from Power System Events Mitigation – Power System and Railroad....................................................................................16-3 lii ..........................................................Table 12-2 Conduction Voltage Coupling – Conversion of 60-Hz Voltage on Signal Ground into Rail-to-Rail Voltage by Shorted Track Arrester (15-ohm Signal Ground Resistance) ....................

he joined Commonwealth Edison (Exelon) in Chicago. The definition of “ac power interference” is discussed. he joined EPRI to manage the recently formed EMC Program.F. railroads. to broadband data transmission over power lines (BPL). He is a member of IEEE and AREMA. and governmental agencies. an investigation into poor shunting with the Association of American Railroads. and pipelines. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the organization of the information within the Handbook. EMF management. he was responsible for maintaining effective working relationships with the two dozen railroads within ComEd’s service territory. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem. where his responsibilities included right-of-way and site selection. House earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. the development and delivery of customer training programs including portable track simulators. and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Pennsylvania. While at Safetran he worked in the Technical Support Department on a variety of projects. Michael R. He is a member of IEEE. electric utilities. with a diverse base of customers including railroads.1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND This chapter provides a broad introduction to the issues surrounding the electrical effects that power transmission and distribution can have on railroads. 1-1 .. In 2001. increased transmission capacity. Other projects include the effects of High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI) on power systems. AREMA. and the resolution of specific customer application problems with crossing warning systems. Guidance Design Group for six years. including in-house and field research into ac power interference problems. and now does independent consulting work for Timerider Technologies. Later. and describes the evolution of these issues since the late 19th century. Brian Cramer is the Technical Manager for Electromagnetic Compatibility in the Power Delivery group of EPRI. and CIGRE. Inc. In this capacity he is responsible for research into issues ranging from interference with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). as Technical Expert for Inductive Coordination and Electrical Effects at ComEd. the design of train-motion simulator systems for motion sensors and crossing predictors. followed by more than twelve years at Safetran Systems’ Electronic Division in California. with responsibility for all B-1 bomber electronic countermeasures systems. In 1990. He later worked for Lockheed Electronics performing research and development on advanced phased-array antenna systems. as is the need for common terminology between the two industries. ANSI. and worked for General Dynamics’ R. He is married to a woman who actually understands why he takes pictures of power lines and railroad crossings while on vacation. He worked for AIL Systems as an integration lab manager.

due to voltage drops caused by the resistance of the wires. changes in railroad signaling technology and the widespread use of joint electric utility / railroad corridors have greatly increased the potential for interference. However. a separate pair of wires was usually run all the way from the generating station to each customer. this form of electrical power could be adjusted up and down in voltage as needed. direct current (dc) power systems were in use at numerous locations around the United States. This intern allowed the voltage to be increased dramatically at the generating station for efficient long-distance transmission. using only simple transformers. the amount of current induced into the power lines by the railroad signaling system is insignificant. the very small ac currents (a few milliamps to a few amps) generated by some railroad signaling systems could also cause some induction into the power lines – and in fact this is true. and then transformed down to the necessary voltage(s) for each customer. The very large voltages (thousands to hundreds of thousands of volts) can cause significant electric induction on pole line circuits and train cars. they were generally restricted to small generating systems located within a few miles of their customers. Unlike direct current. over a long distance. it does have a few drawbacks. these effects become greatest with conductors that run parallel and in close proximity to each other. respectively. This is the principle of electromagnetic induction. Where ac power lines and railroad signal circuits are concerned. 1-2 . Initially. The most significant of these within the railroad signaling world is that of ac interference – both conducted interference and induction. where trains are powered by diesel locomotives. But. Thus alternating current. Any power system under fault conditions can create earth currents that conductively couple into railroad systems. Power systems employing multigrounded neutral conductors can provide conductively coupled ac interference continually. this is exactly the situation that occurs when ac power lines are located along a railroad right-of-way. The very large currents (hundreds of amps) carried by the power lines can cause significant ac power to be magnetically induced onto the railroad rails. circa 1893). especially in its three-phase form. the skies above the streets of New York City had become a tangled web of wires by the late 1880s. conceived and promoted by Nicola Tesla and George Westinghouse. even though it provides for efficient transmission and flexible distribution systems. Any conductor carrying an alternating current creates time-varying electric and magnetic fields around it. having been present to some degree since the advent of commercial ac power transmission (New York. To address this issue. One solution. In theory. was to use alternating current. And any other conductor nearby can turn those time-varying electric and magnetic fields into a separate (but related) alternating current. Thus.Introduction and Background Background The problem of alternating current (ac) power lines affecting railroad signal circuits is not a new one. has remained the standard for electrical power transmission throughout the world for more than one hundred years. However. Prior to commercial ac power transmission. Unfortunately.

together with conducted interference. and tort liability associated with railroad signaling systems. particularly for high-voltage transmission lines. power companies have increasingly found themselves scrambling to find real estate for overhead power lines. To date. Aware of the potential for compatibility problems. and allowed the use of just a few wires. In that case. In the increasingly competitive transportation and electric utility markets. the railroad can still experience similar levels of interference. various authorities might assign responsibility. 1-3 . The growing ac power grid in North America was designed to carry large amounts of electrical power into the cities and across the vast distances that often lay between the generating stations and the cities. the railroads have usually asked the electric companies to pay for any needed changes or upgrades to their signal system required as a result of interference arising from the power lines. and railroad signal equipment manufacturers. But just as the elements of the compatibility problem between ac power lines and railroad signaling systems come from many sources.Introduction and Background But let us consider the usual case. the courts wind up resolving disputes. The current induced by the power lines into the railroad rails can be many times larger than the currents used by the railroad signaling system. the use of alternating current for electrical power transmission and distribution removed the need to have dozens of pairs of wires overhead. Ensuing problems will have to be solved with much of the equipment remaining in-place. railroads can only require such agreements if the power lines are on railroad property. and often only a few meters wide. With the growth of urban centers in the United States in the 1800s and 1900s. and in some cases. But even if the power line right-of-way is not on railroad property. this portion of the agreements between railroads and electric utilities has sometimes been a source of considerable friction between otherwise amicable business partners. So historically. With thousands of miles of railroads and power lines now in place. forms the heart of the compatibility problem between ac power lines and railroad signaling circuits. and is merely adjacent to or near a railroad right-of-way. Often the best solution has been to lease a portion of the railroad’s right-of-way. state public utility commissions often address such issues. this current can interfere with proper operation of the signaling system. cost. Of course. there are very few people with experience in solving compatibility problems involving both. It seems like a natural pairing. the problem of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) between power lines and railroad signals is one that cannot easily be avoided by the relocation of either. The railroads were designed to carry large quantities of goods and raw materials into and out of the cities. even though there is a wealth of expertise available in the areas of electric power transmission/distribution. railroads. Underground installation (shielded cable) is seldom a cost-effective solution. So the interference usually occurs in one direction only. so must the solutions. Unfortunately. Thus. With the increasing complexity. In the United States. They spanned the vast distances between major cities and across rural areas. Both systems needed a right-of-way network that was hundreds of miles long. But these few wires still had to be strung somewhere. the economic efficiency made possible by joint use of railroad corridors has often been an economic necessity. and railroad signaling. there has been only sporadic cooperation and information exchange among the electric utilities. This unseen path of induction.

several individual railroads and electric power companies. and telecommunications systems as victims. the motivation for cooperation among all of these parties is economic. there must be a path. International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards refer to the power system and railroads as sources. the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA).ultimately. the railroad signaling equipment manufacturers. and individuals. education. and effective mitigation will benefit the public and all industries involved. has undertaken the task of producing this Power System and Railroad Electromagnetic Compatibility Handbook. instead of receptors. All modern trains use electric motors to drive the wheels. as well as leading railroad signal and electromagnetic compatibility experts. railroad. For an EMC problem to exist three things must be present. because most European railroads use electric traction1. and to work towards developing effective and standardized solutions to these compatibility problems. effective investigation techniques. to whom the authors are deeply grateful. The other is “diesel electric” locomotion. It is hoped that this handbook will provide a basis for discussion. There must be a receptor (i. Shared utility corridors are an economic necessity. For this effort. The electricity from the generator then drives the electric motors to turn the wheels. electric utilities. the power line). will come from the sharing of information resources.e. the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The electric companies benefit financially by getting affordable access to additional routes for their transmission and/or distribution lines. EPRI has enlisted the assistance of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). It is too expensive and time consuming to develop separate rights-of-way. The railroads benefit financially by leasing a portion of their property for use by overhead transmission and/or distribution lines. This handbook contains the pooled information resources of many corporations. What is AC Power Interference? AC power interference in railroad systems is an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) problem. 1-4 . producing. and problem resolution throughout the electric power. and selling EMC-compatible equipment that allows for the safe and efficient movement of trains.g. The scope of this Power System and Railroad EMC Handbook is limited to situations where the railroad is the receptor circuit (sometimes called the “victim” circuit). organizations. There must be a source of the energy (e. These same standards refer to railroads as sources. the railroad). and railroad signal equipment manufacturers. While the primary focus is always on safety . and signal manufacturing industries. Good communication. This source-path-receptor model of EMC is an important element in understanding railroad ac interference. Where diesel electric 1 Electric traction is one of two common ways to propel a train. But these joint use corridors have led to electromagnetic compatibility issues at certain times and in certain places. A diesel electric locomotive has a diesel engine that drives an electrical generator. And the signal equipment manufacturers and consultants benefit financially by designing.Introduction and Background In order to facilitate the process of cooperation among the railroads. which have arisen from the sharing of material resources. And. The most economic solutions to these EMC problems. a nonprofit research institute in the United States founded by a consortium of electric power utilities.

Leisenring stated: “The much talked of California Rules. the results of prior works must be interpreted carefully. These include effects on equipment operation. all aspects of ac power interference are addressed. In the paper. to drive the electric motors that turn the wheels. John Leisenring of the Illinois Traction System presented a paper to the Joint Convention of the Illinois Gas Association. titled “Inductive Interference” [2]. the Joint Committee on Inductive Interference to the Railroad Commission of the State of California published their Final Report in an attempt to address these issues [1]. I mention this simply to show the need for an immediate and complete awakening on the part of the power interests as to the seriousness of the situation.” Then in 1936 something wonderful happened. and urge the hearty support of the National Committee of the National Electric Light Association as well as any State or Regional Committees working on this Problem. prepared but a few years ago. While on the face of it this report seemed reasonable. Most of these programs concentrated on the issues of ac induction. 1-5 . usually delivered through an overhead catenary wire or an electrified third rail. and mitigating electric power interference on railroads. prepared by a committee of both power and signal men. In 1917. forwarded to every state commission in the Union a copy of the California Rules with the. While a study of these prior works is important for a complete knowledge of the field. Several examples of these programs follow in chronological order. Mr. In 1922. last year. suggestion that they be adopted in each state.” “Another advocate of somewhat arbitrary rules for the handling of this problem has recently arisen in the form of the Telegraph and Telephone Section of the American Railroad Association. at least implied. This handbook will provide processes and tools for identifying. A diesel electric railroad is usually a receptor – not a source. which at the time were heralded as the last word in the matter of joint corrective measures.Introduction and Background locomotives power the railroad the situation is completely different. Therefore. In this EMC Handbook. October 7. while the impossible solution of wide separation is the real basis of the report. Because electric traction requires the railroads to have their own electric power distribution systems. Prior Programs Programs to address ac interference challenges on railroads have been undertaken in the past. and the Illinois Electric Railways Association that summed up the utility attitude of the California report and the State regulations that followed. This association. proved to be inadequate and one sided in that they placed no responsibility on the signal companies that can be definitely applied. 1936” was published [3]. The “Report of the Joint General Committee of AAR and EEI on The Inductive Coordination of Electrical Supply and Communication Systems. changes in technology have had a significant effect on the levels of ac interference that can be tolerated. the Illinois State Electric Association. This report said things like: Electric traction uses electricity from another source. damage to equipment. railroads using electric traction can be sources of ac power interference. characterizing. and personnel safety (direct electrical effects on the body). a closer look revealed some unsettling issues.

Joint projects between the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) produced a series of reports and tools: • October 1983 – “Mutual Design of Overhead Transmission Lines and Railroad Communication and Signal Systems”. Railroads. signal maintainers. Terminology Finding unambiguous terminology for this handbook has been a challenge. every effort will be made to use standard terminology. EPRI Report EL-4147. commonly called the “Bluebook”. July 1985 – “Utility Corridor Design: Transmission Lines. and Pipelines”. It is necessary to broaden the study of ac interference from one of identifying the sources of induction. In this way problems can be accurately characterized and effective mitigation implemented in the least amount of time and at the lowest possible cost. technicians. – – – Companion project to 1902-1 Included development of CORRIDOR software to predict magnetic and electric induction into railroads and pipelines Included creation of the Track Circuit Simulator to permit testing of any interference condition on actual equipment installed on simulated track • This work. concentrated on induction. EMC people.Introduction and Background “All railroad and electric power systems should be designed. 1-6 .” While it is not a Standard. installed and maintained to minimize interference problems. The audience for this material includes railroad personnel.” This document was last revised in September 1977. the Railroad and Electric Power Company involved should cooperate to solve the problems. This has lead to a growing number of investigations that are ineffective because they are looking for the wrong kind of problem. Although the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) was working on a revision of the Bluebook. Research Project 1902-2. this twenty-nine year old document. It includes electrical engineers. Volume 1: Engineering Analysis and Site Study and Volume 2: User’s Manual for Computer Program CORRIDOR. was once the closest thing to an industry accepted guide that we had in North America. it has been replaced by this handbook. to an Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) study in which all sources and paths are identified. However. and managers. Research Project 1902-1. Since 1977. EPRI Report EL-3301. mechanical engineers. Many cases of ac interference are caused by conduction through the earth or other paths. Where existing terminology standards are insufficient. government regulators. Volume 1: Engineering Analysis and Volume 2: Appendixes. most of the problems railroads have with newer technologies of signal equipment involve interference that is not coupled through induction. and is now known as “Principles and Practices for Inductive Coordination of Electric Supply and Railroad Communication/Signal Systems [4]. Because of this. power company personnel. When normal practices are insufficient. other work was pursued to advance the state of the art of railroad/electric power inductive coordination. and equipment manufacturers. as with most of the prior work. we define and use our own terms.

This handbook is both . 180.). Organization Reference books are usually either written as a textbook that you must read at length to derive the desired knowledge. We do not call it “induction”. 2 In some fields of study the word “interference” is only used when problems result. So. coupling path. This is usually 60Hz or 50Hz ac. and for some reason people don’t understand “electric power interference”. and mitigate ac power interference. but we use “ac” as in “ac power interference” because people understand it. and if there is too much of it. Most systems that use electrical energy to make things go use ac power. We use it here as electrical energy at these fundamental frequencies and lower-order harmonics (e. This energy may or may not cause problems to the railroad or its personnel.g. That undesired energy is “interference”2. Many of the chapters of this handbook are written with a quick-start version and a detailed version.3 When we use the word “power” we mean the electrical energy used to make things go. Several hundred thousand dollars could be spent mitigating magnetic induction. 240. “ac power interference” is undesired electrical energy regardless of its source. We are talking about alternating current (ac).Introduction and Background The first example of our chosen terminology is “ac power interference”: • When we say ac power interference.not because we have finally found true enlightenment – but simply because we decided to write both books at the same time and bind them together. characterize. As will be explained later. But the railroad doesn’t need this energy (at least not where it is). but can’t use to get in depth explanations. 300. This handbook will also include what we know about the effects of direct current (dc) electric transmission systems. and interference does not necessarily cause problems. only to discover that the energy used a different path and that the mitigation is completely ineffective. 360. multiples of the 60Hz fundamental. In fact “induction” is a path – actually two different possible paths – the energy might take to get to the railroad systems. it is important not to make the mistake of assuming the path is magnetic induction. we don’t use the term “noise” here. the quick-start version is designed to provide sufficient understanding to effectively initiate work in the subject area. such as: 120. we are talking about energy that is undesired. etc. 3 1-7 . If time does not permit this level of study. For reasons described elsewhere. or as a reference that you can go to for specific things. Either way we need to be able to identify. problems can result. or whether problems result. This term is frequently used when ac power interference is present and both the source and path of the energy are unknown. 420Hz. • • AC power interference can come from many sources within the power company systems or from sources outside the power company system. For a complete understanding of the topic read the quick-start version and then read the detailed version. They use the word “noise” to describe undesired energy that does not necessarily cause problems. harmonic number.

1918. A Report of the Joint Committee of the AAR and EEI on Inductive Coordination. Final Report of the Joint Committee on Inductive Interference to the Railroad Commission of the State of California. 2. California State Printing Office. Inductive Interference. John Leisenring. September 1977.Introduction and Background References 1. and the Illinois Electric Railways Association. March 1922. Sacramento. 1936. Report of the Joint General Committee of AAR and EEI on The Inductive Coordination of Electrical Supply and Communication Systems. 4. the Illinois State Electric Association. Chicago. Illinois Traction System. 1-8 . Principles and Practices for Inductive Coordination of Electric Supply and Railroad Communication/Signal Systems. Presented before the joint convention of the Illinois Gas Association. October 7. 3.

He was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1987 for “advances in transmission line theory and its reduction to practice through prototype demonstration. This compact line research was subsequently applied to voltage upgrading of existing transmission lines. the dB Society. James Stewart is an independent consultant based in Scotia. and applicable national and international standards. and is a co-author of the EPRI Transmission Line Reference Book: 115-138 kV Compact Line Design and subsequent EPRI reports on line compaction and DOE reports on high phase order power transmission.arctechnical.2 FUNDAMENTALS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC COMPATIBILITY (EMC) This chapter provides an overview of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and how electromagnetic interference (EMI) from power systems can affect railroads. Inc.” He is presently Chairman of the Transmission and Distribution Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society. He is the President and founder of ARC Technical Resources.com Dr. personnel safety considerations. 2-1 . systems and services for the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) profession since 1989. He has been involved in experimental and analytical research of compact overhead transmission lines. EMC and Microwave instrumentation industries. He has over 30 years of experience in power systems and transmission lines. Jerry Ramie is a 27 year veteran of the Regulatory Compliance. New York. common causes of problems. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE . the EMC Society's Ad Hoc Committee on BPL and is a NARTE-certified EMC technician. Dr. Inc. He can be reached at http://www.EMC Society. having worked for Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation and Power Technologies. It includes interference mechanisms in railway and power situations. which provides training. equipment. the Power Engineering Society P1775 Committee on Broadband over Power line (BPL). Stewart participated in several of these upgrading studies.

If the coupled voltages are greater than the railroad equipment immunity. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) helps ensure the ability of one system (e. Common mode involves equal voltages being present on the two track rails. Such effects include voltages and currents in the railroad facilities caused by unintended coupling to voltages and currents existing on the power system. improper equipment operation is possible. electric power lines). electric field coupling. and magnetic field coupling. resulting in a 2-2 .g. The revenue stream for both industries depends on safe operation and high reliability. and/or the increasing numbers of wireless devices used by the public.g. and differential mode involves different voltages on each rail. reliable operation of railways and power systems. For electromagnetic compatibility issues to arise. railroad signals) to operate in the presence of effects caused by a nearby system (e. This chapter of the handbook is intended to provide railroad and power personnel with a basic understanding of the following to ensure electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) between railroad and power systems: • • • • Electromagnetic interference Interference mechanisms in railway and power situations Common causes of problems Applicable national and international Standards Quick-Start Version Introduction to EMC Whenever power lines are in close proximity to railroads. These trends must be carefully managed to assure the continued safe. Railroads and power providers both carry massive loads that demand safe.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Introduction Safety and reliability are key concerns for the railroad and power industries. The modernization of railway and power control equipment will increase the incidence of electromagnetic interference (EMI) between these new devices and the existing infrastructure. and the coupling path between them. and each is becoming more dependent on semiconductor and communication technologies that are less robust than the simpler electromechanical systems of the past. the receptor of interference. Voltages and currents are coupled into the rails of railroad tracks in two different modes: common mode and differential mode. The coupling path for possibly interfering voltages and currents entering railroad facilities from the nearby power system can involve three distinct but related physical mechanisms: conduction. three distinct entities are required: the emitter of interference. it is necessary to determine whether mutual interference effects are possible. reliable operation. Characteristics of each of these are indicated in the list below.

Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) voltage difference between the rails. Various technical standards and emissions and immunity test procedures have been developed in different parts of the world to assess and deal with EMC concerns. There are methods and procedures that can be applied to both the railroad and electric power systems to deal with and mitigate interference concerns wherever they occur. Common mode voltages can be converted to differential mode voltages by electrical and physical imbalances between the two rails. but may be amperes of current Of concern both during normal power system operation and during faults Tends to be dominant induction path in low impedance track signal circuits Concern for possible misoperation of signals. but only milliamperes of current Receptors are generally pole-top communication wires or long trains parked parallel to power lines Can often be mitigated by grounding methods Tends to be dominant induction path in high impedance pole mounted communication circuits Magnetic field coupling Driven by power line current Generally results in low open circuit voltage (volts). and railroad facilities’ grounds Of concern both during normal power system operation and during faults Effects may change with soil moisture content May include effects due to harmonic currents in the power system Electric field coupling Driven by power line voltage Generally results in high open circuit voltage (kV). American and European outlooks differ. Legal. regulatory and social issues also arise. Table 2-1 Coupling Mechanisms Between Power Lines and Railroads Conductive coupling Conductive path between power line and railroad through the earth Current paths between power system grounded neutrals or shield wires. These are described in the second table below. equipment damage and personnel safety May include effects due to harmonic currents in the power system (usually a conduction phenomena) 2-3 . Differential mode voltages are generally the more significant sources of interference to railroad signals.

both from the standpoint of the source and the receptor. In other words. the requirements apply to the receiver (the “receptor” devise).) Grade crossing equipment is particularly susceptible.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Table 2-2 Common Mode and Differential Mode Coupling Common mode coupling Identical voltage induced per unit length on both rails May be of concern for equipment damage May be of concern for personnel safety Steady-state ac induced in track should not exceed 50 V rms rail-to-ground or across an insulated rail joint Differential mode coupling Voltage difference between rails Of concern for abnormal operation of railroad systems if greater than equipment immunity May be developed from common mode voltage because of unbalanced impedances to ground in track circuit Track circuit balance should be maintained at the best possible level (<10% unbalance. EMC is the art of controlling EMI and its effects. because the interference cannot be eliminated (They are intentional and legitimate transmissions. What constitutes an acceptable value is specific to the application under consideration and must take into account the entire setting of the problem. In this case. (AREMA Manual Parts recommend 5V and 10V of ac immunity. a consideration of corona noise from overhead electric power transmission lines is a question of radio signal strength at the line location and the signal-tonoise ratio to be maintained at the edge of the right-of-way. • For example: a radio receiver that is designed to receive one frequency in the presence of strong signals on other nearby frequencies has a particular set of design requirements. while at the same time not introducing intolerable electromagnetic disturbances to anything else in its environment. lower if practical) Acceptable levels of differential mode interference are dependent on the immunity of the installed signal equipment. In this case. Detailed Version Introduction to EMC Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) relates to the ability of an electrical device or system to function satisfactorily in the electromagnetic interference (EMI) environment in which it is situated.) On the other hand. Electromagnetic interference can result in unintended or impaired operation of an electrical or electronic system or device whenever interfering voltages or currents exceed the acceptable values. but many systems cannot operate at these levels of interference. the requirements • 2-4 .

Interference involves three entities: the source (capable of generating electromagnetic energy sometimes called the emitter). Controlling interference is important to assure reliable operations of both rail and power systems. and the “coupling path” that allows some amount of interfering energy to be coupled into the receptor from the source. or a combination of these things. Electromagnetic interference analyses involve not only an engineering analysis of the physical interference mechanism. This Handbook strives to present concise. This could be shown as the source-path-receptor model for interference in Figure 2-1. Figure 2-1 The Source-Path-Receptor Interference Model Electromagnetic compatibility exists when the source and the receptor both perform their intended function.k. because the only practical way to maintain the required signal-to-noise level is to limit the strength of the interference from the power line. it is said to be “immune”. one set of statistics can be applied at the receiver location. but also the development and application of criteria for evaluation of the interference potential. the “victim”. the receptor (a. If the issue is safety.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) apply to the power line (the “source”). Compatibility is thus the state of having sufficiently little interference generated by the source. such as a malfunctioning grade crossing signal. usable information on how to identify interference problems and indicate solutions for them that work.a. with the source and path delivering less interfering signal than the receptor is designed to accommodate. • • • If radio noise is an annoyance issue to the public. more than enough “immunity” to such interference inherent in the design of the receptor. which can be harmfully affected by such energy). If the system is not affected by interference. 2-5 . sufficient attenuation in the path. much more stringent criteria must be used.

Radiation occurs for more widely spaced objects and involves radio frequency propagation through free space. where current enters the earth and can find its way into railroad facilities. • • • Conduction involves conducting paths. It is also essential to prevent damage to equipment or injury to personnel as a result of elevated voltages during power system faults. Many conductive connections exist between the power system and the ground. Resistance in the earth provides a 2-6 . Railroads ground (or earth) their signal houses. although there are still concerns today with DC currents in the ground causing corrosion. and usually at regular intervals. distribution system neutrals. Power system grounds include substation ground mats. and transmission line structure grounds. or unintentional such as through the earth or lossy insulation. For a description of the power system itself and a more detailed discussion of power system grounding practices. Because the ballast also provides a conductive path between rails and earth. and bungalows. The ballast also provides a conductive path from the earth to the rail circuit. and radiation. Transmission line structures are well grounded because the shield wires require frequent grounding to perform their purpose of lightning protection. or wires connecting the source with the receptor.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Interference Paths This section discusses the paths for interfering voltages and currents to enter railroad facilities. It is important to consider conductive interference both during normal operation of the power system and during faults when very large currents can enter the earth. some of this return current passed through the earth into nearby piping. see the introduction to the power system in Chapter 3. transformers and service entrances. It is essential to preserve proper operation of railroad facilities during normal power system operation. When power and railroad facilities share rights-of-way. buried metallic pipes. The cars were supplied with DC from an overhead wire with the rails providing the return path to the powerhouse. The physical process for conductive coupling between power systems and railroads is illustrated in circuit form in Figure 2-2 and pictorially in Figure 2-3. Power system grounding performs several functions both during normal system operation and during faults. providing a number of possible conducting paths for current between systems. A subsequent section deals with the principles of how these coupled voltages and currents affect the railroad equipment. induction. Methods were developed to mitigate this problem. A multi grounded distribution feeder has grounds on the neutral wire at each transformer. These provide paths for earth currents from the power system to enter railroad facilities. there can be numerous grounds in close proximity. There are three general categories of electromagnetic coupling paths between systems: conduction. causing corrosion of the pipes. whether intentional through wires. Induction results from electric and magnetic fields coupling objects that are in close physical proximity to each other. cases. There was a serious issue with conducted earth currents in the early days of the electric street railroad industry. Conduction involves a conducting path such as the earth.

the division of current between earth and rail is determined by the self and mutual impedances relating earth and rail. Some of those impedances are the resistances connecting the rail to the earth. The relative impedances of the circuit determine the fraction of the current that flows in the earth. A complete analysis includes the matrix of terms for the ground connections themselves. Current flowing through the earth divides between the parallel paths of earth and rail depending on their relative impedances.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) conducting path between the grounds on the power line and incidental connections to ground along the rail. Figure 2-2 Conductive Coupling Between Power and Railroad Systems Figure 2-3 Earth Conduction 2-7 . If the resistance between rail and earth is zero.

therefore railroad and power system physical dimensions are a small fraction of a wavelength. What constitutes “closely spaced” is relative to the frequency and wavelength of the voltage or current. For 60 Hz. Grounding practices for personnel safety must take these touch and step potentials into account. Because the earth is an imperfectly conductive body. The difference in voltage between a person’s two feet is called step potential. For instance.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Another approach to considering conductive coupling is through the concept of ground potential rise. For example. The wavelength (λ) = c / f. At these small fractions of a wavelength. there is a voltage difference between points on the earth. the concept of ground potential rise is important. shown pictorially in Figure 2-4. λ = 5. Care must be taken in doing such a measurement because of the possibility of magnetic field induction in the measuring leads introducing an additional voltage into the measurement. However. a voltage can be measured on a ground rod on a railroad or power system with respect to a ground rod driven in the earth far away (called “remote earth”). there is a resistive voltage drop in the earth from one location to another whenever current flows in the earth. Likewise.000 km. A person standing on the earth touching a metallic object may be subjected to a touch potential due to the voltage difference between the earth and the object. the electric and magnetic fields can be considered 2-8 . inside a transformer magnetic induction is the coupling path for the magnetic field from the primary windings to the secondary windings. where c is 8 the speed of light (3 x 10 m/s) and f is the frequency in Hertz (Hz). Figure 2-4 Ground Potential Rise Induction is the near-field coupling between “closely spaced” objects. especially during faults.

The question of electric and magnetic field coupling is fundamental to EMC between power systems and railroads.00001λ (f=15MHz. in electromagnetics. LPath=0. A useful comparison is the dimensions of a printed circuit board compared with the much larger geometry of a joint railroad power right-of-way. This is because. that is. electric and magnetic field coupling can be considered separately at power frequencies. Thus. for many purposes the fields behave as if they were static fields even though they are actually time-varying. In this respect it is similar to the broader field of EMC. When measured in wavelengths. LS=20cm. In this view. the length of a receptor trace (LR) 0. In the quasistatic region: • • Electric field is a function of the source voltage. and the spacing between layers (LPath) could be 0. At 2-9 . If the receptor is much less than 1/6 λ away from the source. it is in the near field. λ=20m. a power line operating at 60Hz that is 50km long and 50m away from a track block that is 5km long has the same geometry.02cm). A rough equivalence could be viewed as shown in Figure 2-5.01λ. size is measured in wavelengths (λ). Figure 2-5 Wavelength Scaling – when Measured in Wavelengths (λ). not how big something is in meters or feet. An ideal dipole antenna is about 0. all the theory and practices used to design high-speed circuit boards for minimum emissions and maximum immunity are roughly equivalent to designing rail and power systems for minimum signal degradation and maximum immunity to interference.5 λ long. including compatibility concerns in printed circuit boards. Printed Circuit Boards and Joint Railroad Power Corridors Present the Same Geometry On a circuit board the length of a source conductor (LS) could easily be 0. and Magnetic field is independently a function of the source current.001λ. LR=2cm.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) quasistatic.

The voltage source represents the open circuit voltage induced on the object if it is perfectly insulated from ground. and the resistance of the object (possibly a person) contacting the parallel conductor (RP). 2-10 . which consists of a current source (ISC) in parallel with the source impedance (CV and RV in parallel). A pictorial representation is given in Figure 2-9. In this case. however. Figure 2-6 illustrates a capacitive voltage divider connecting the line voltage with the object on which voltage is induced. and a source impedance that is the equivalent reactance of the capacitance network (on the order of megohms). Figure 2-7. people. it is possible for electric field induction to use a Norton equivalent circuit. Because of the small capacitance between line and object.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) either scale. Figure 2-6 Capacitive Coupling to an Object Close to an Overhead Line 1 Note to EMC specialists: Keep in mind. at less than hundreds of kilometers. i.1 Electric field induction is capacitive coupling as shown in Figure 2-6 and is the primary cause of induced voltages on objects the size of motor vehicles. an equivalent source impedance (ZS). The source impedance determines the short circuit current available. conductors are run in parallel with one another over some distance and are separated by insulators suspended over “ground” planes. Thus. the capacitive reactance is large. long trains. sheds. it is a very good approximation to use only the current source. and to neglect the source equivalent impedance as shown in Figure 2-8. RF radiation is not a meaningful coupling path at practical distances. Electric field induction can be represented as a Thevenin equivalent circuit consisting of a voltage source (VOC). or pole mounted communication wires. that with the extremely long wavelengths of extremely low frequency (ELF) rail and power systems the induction mechanism is electric and magnetic field coupling. The resulting circuit for electric field induction is a high voltage (on the order of kilovolts).e.

Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) ZS Figure 2-7 Thevenin Equivalent Circuit for Electric Field Coupling Figure 2-8 Norton Equivalent Circuit for Electric Field Coupling Figure 2-9 Electric Field Induction 2-11 .

and Rp is the resistance of the object (possibly a person) contacting the parallel conductor. It is possible to shield electric field coupling by grounded wires placed above the interference receptors. The equivalent circuit for magnetic field coupling is given in Figure 2-10 for an object parallel to a power line. Rs and Xs are the real and reactive components of the source impedance. frequency-selective filters can be installed between the communication circuits and the ground to provide a path for 60 Hz to drain to earth. Likewise. Any conductance to ground reduces the open circuit voltage. Voc is the total open circuit induced voltage over the length of parallel conductor. Magnetic field induced voltage is expressed in volts per unit length along the parallel conductor. grounded at one end. The voltage may be less than 100 volts. nearby telephone circuits could also be susceptible to interference from this path. or tens of amperes. insulated from earth. and is called the longitudinal electromotive force (LEF. but the short circuit current may be on the order of several amperes. and is significant for objects that parallel the power line for a significant distance. Magnetic field induction is inductive coupling. Alternatively. LEF is a fundamental concept in inductive coordination problems. In the case of electric field induction. Numerical values of the parameters in Figure 2-10 usually give a low voltage behind a low impedance.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) In electric field coupling an open circuit voltage of several kilovolts may coexist with a short circuit current on the order of milliamperes. and contacted at the other by an object grounded through resistance. even on the order of megohms. Figure 2-10 Equivalent Circuit for Magnetic Field Coupling 2-12 . formerly called longitudinal electric field). the high voltages present on transmission conductors can transfer charge onto the high-impedance. Short circuit current is the most reliably measured experimental variable because any leakage resistance. A pictorial representation of magnetic field induction is given in Figure 2-11. such as railroads. The highest possible voltage occurs when there is infinite resistance to ground and only the capacitive reactance connects the object to ground. reduces the voltage. voltage-driven pole-line circuits still used by the railroad industry in many locations.

such as those resulting from switching operations. It is not uncommon to find induced voltages with very large percentage harmonic content compared to the source current. can introduce transients and high induced voltages. capacitor switching operations can result in switching transients and consequent induced voltages. Because mutual reactance is proportional to frequency. 2-13 . Because of their high-frequency content. such as power supplies and variable speed motor drives.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Figure 2-11 Magnetic Field Induction It is important to consider magnetic field induction under both normal operation of the power system and during power system faults. For example. Much higher voltages are induced during faults both because of the greater magnitude of the fault current compared to normal load current.g.) return via the neutral or ground path. It may also be necessary to give special attention to harmonic currents when dealing with magnetic field induction. harmonic currents of three times the fundamental frequency (e. for 60 Hz: harmonic frequencies of 180 Hz. but also because a greater current may be flowing into the earth making a larger inductive flux loop during faults. such as those involved with the sliding contact on catenaries or unintentional due to poor connections. power system transients. can also induce higher than expected voltages into parallel facilities. 360 Hz. Many electronic devices. whether more-or-less intentional. inject harmonic currents into the power system. Arcing contacts. Also. etc. 10 amperes at 180 Hz induces three times the voltage that 10 amperes induces at 60 Hz. some to very high harmonic orders. and for that reason produce greater magnetic field induction.

which is described later in this chapter. as opposed to the near-field effect of electric and magnetic field induction. Magnetic field coupling to signal or telephone wires can be mitigated by closely paralleling the interference receptor wires with a very low resistance well-grounded conductor. shown pictorially in Figure 2-12. Radiation is a far-field effect. The effect is to reduce the magnetic field at the receptor wire location and thus reduce the induced voltage. Power frequency interference does not couple through radiation to railroads at significant levels. The difference between the two rail voltages may cause interference with the track circuit. 2-14 . It is essential to distinguish radiation from electric and magnetic field coupling of power frequency voltages and currents.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) A complete description of electric and magnetic field coupling to objects in proximity to electric power lines is given in the EPRI publication Transmission Line Reference Book 345 kV and Above [5]. The two rails may have slightly different voltages induced because of the relative geometry of the rails and the power lines. or because of different leakage impedances to earth. Circulating current induced by the magnetic field in the shield conductor (labeled “Ground Wire” in Figure 2-12) produces a magnetic field that opposes the magnetic field from the power line. Magnetic induction causes rail-to-ground voltages to appear on both rails simultaneously2. Figure 2-12 Shield Conductor for Magnetic Induction 2 This is common mode induction.

The wavelength is a function of the material in which the fields exist. the free space wavelength can be safely used. Many sources use a factor of 6 resulting in a far field definition of r > λ. and traveling in a coherent electromagnetic wave to the receiver (like a distant radio station’s signal). and f is the frequency in Hertz (Hz) or cycles/second. The interference is the rest of the energy in the circuit. to a “bit” inside a computer chip. To understand how interference affects railroad systems it is necessary to understand these two modes. That is. λ = 5. Here we are referring to the more general definition of signals as time-varying voltages or currents used to communicate information.000 miles) in free space. The near field region (where quasi-static effects dominate) is at distances where k times r is much less than 1 (k * r << 1). A factor of 3 for “much greater than” gives the far field as r > ½ λ. and solving for r gives r << 1/6 λ for the near field. The boundary region between the near field (quasi-static) region and the far field (radiation) region is centered at k * r = 1. When someone points out that this is true for free space.the information we want. the “antennas” of either system are too short to be effective radiators or receptors of EM radiation at 50 or 60 Hz. But. or power lines are relatively “short” by comparison. For meaningful radiation to occur. there are two “modes” that the energy can take: differential mode and common mode. less than 250 kilometers distance is definitely near field. and how interference affects function and safety. So. the far field region (where radiation dominates) is r >> 1/6 λ. By “signals” we don’t mean railroad signals. you are in the near field. This is often rounded to r < 1/20 λ as the near field. and greater than 5. where c is the speed of light (3 x 108 m/s).) Conversely. but what about the wavelength in a conductor such as the wire – isn’t it shorter? The answer is: yes. For a perfect conductor the fields are entirely outside the wire (in free space). the railroad would have to be on a different continent from the power line.000 km. track. with a 60 Hz power line. from whatever sources. (A factor of 3 is often used for “much less/more than” leading to r < 1/18 λ. radiation is not a significant form of coupling between ac power lines and railroads. how they are used in electrical railway circuits. And to be in the far field at 50/60 Hz. λEarth ~ 650 meters 2-15 . Skin depth in a reasonably conductive material is: 1 where: µ for non-magnetic material ~ 4π x 10-7 DS = ——— σ for typical earth ~ 10-2 (πfµσ)1/2 Therefore. So. Still want more?! OK. wire is not a perfect conductor. so about 5% of the fields exist inside a copper wire.000 kilometers is definitely far field. both desired and undesired. but not by much. and both the source and receptor must be effective antennas. We are going to explain these modes in terms of “signals”. if your distance is much less than 1/6 λ. two things are necessary: the receptor must be in the far field of the source. This signal can be anything from the energy powering a doorbell.000 km (3. Differential and Common Mode Signal Types When electrical energy is imposed on a circuit. where k is the wave number (k = 2π / λ) and r is the distance (m). The desired signal is the energy that carries the information that the circuit was meant to deliver. What about the wavelength in the earth. The signals are the good stuff .Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) The “far field” condition (much greater than 1/6th of a wavelength3) is when the magnetic and electric lines of flux are orthogonal to each other. Approximating 2 π as 6. for 60 Hz. or even the energy in a railroad track circuit. such as a pipeline? The wavelength in the earth is about one skin depth (DS). and the pole. Since 95% of the fields exist in free space. Therefore. The wavelength of 60 Hz power is 5. For the very low frequencies used in steady-state railroad and ac power work. 3 The wavelength (λ) = c / f. So. the electrical energy on the circuit.

that is. So. So. the positive terminal is connected to one conductor and the negative terminal is connected to the other conductor. they both carry an ac current. In the circuit that powers the outlet your computer is plugged into. as in Figure 2-13. Figure 2-14. Path to the Load. in order to be a complete circuit. How the source applies our signal to these two conductors determines whether the signal is differential mode or common mode. 2-16 . and Path from the Load Differential Mode Signal “Differential mode” signals are “different” from each other. Figure 2-13 Complete Circuit with Source. the “hot” wire and the neutral wire come from different taps on the transformer secondary winding.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Every circuit must have a continuous path for the current to follow. but there is always a ground reference that is the return path. but the currents are 180 degrees out of phase. This is a differential mode signal. Digital logic sometimes appears to be a single wire. For a circuit driven by a battery. out of phase or showing opposite polarity at any given instant in time. from the source end of the circuit we see two conductors heading off into the distance to deliver information (energy) from the source to the load. This is also a differential mode signal. Load.

2-17 . In reality all conductors are grounded. and is therefore more effective. but connect nothing to the other terminal. Figure 2-15. If there were leakage resistance to ground along the path. As no current flows in this circuit from the common mode signal. The reference we often use is called “remote earth”. at least through parasitic capacitance.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Figure 2-14 Circuit with Differential Mode Signal Common Mode Signal With “common mode” signals both conductors receive the same excitation. If you hook both wires of a circuit to one terminal of a battery. then both conductors are energized at +24 Volts. Because capacitive reactance decreases with increasing frequency. and connect the negative terminal to the earth. a common mode current would flow in the two conductors. So. Remote earth is presumed to be at zero Volts. For this to make sense. This is a common mode signal. nothing happens. The same voltage is applied to both. it appears to be a very inefficient means for delivering information. This capacitance to ground makes some complete common mode path possible. a capacitance-completed common mode path has lower impedance at higher harmonic frequencies. if you take your 24 Volt battery and hook both conductors to the positive terminal. there needs to be some reference.

There is a good reason for this. then a dangerous situation could result. Figure 2-16. Common Mode Interference Most circuits that carry information (signals) have their two conductors close together. Also. It means that whatever electromagnetic energy couples into one wire via magnetic or electric induction will be nearly the same as what couples into the other wire (for a well balanced circuit). we need to learn about differential mode and common mode interference. common mode interference can cause some problems. In many applications they are even twisted together. However. they can fail. If the voltage exceeds the insulating capability of any components. For this reason it usually does not interfere directly with operation of the receptor circuit. Common mode interference does not result in differential current flow in the receptor circuit. and how they impact electromagnetic compatibility. With the same excitation applied to both wires this induced interference is common mode. if the energy in the receptor circuit exceeds levels that are safe for human exposure.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Figure 2-15 Circuit with Common Mode Signal Interference Types Now that we know what differential mode and common mode signals are. 2-18 .

then they can be exposed to different fields and have different voltages and currents induced. However.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Figure 2-16 Circuit with Common Mode Interference and Differential Mode Signal Differential Mode Interference Differential mode interference is the case where the undesired energy on the two conductors is not the same.e. in phase. The other way differential mode interference gets into circuits is for common mode interference to be converted to differential mode interference by unbalance of the receptor circuit. if the conductors are separated by some distance. The differences in field exposure and earth conduction exposure are almost always very small for the rail gauge spacing of about five feet.this is called differential mode interference. An extreme (but fairly common) example of this is shown in figure 2-17. (This can happen inside a poorly wired equipment enclosure as well as on the track. differential mode interference should be considered when high-current power lines are closely paralleling the track. Differential mode interference comes about in two ways. in the case of railroad track rail spacing. The currents that result in the receptor circuit from differential mode interference can make it difficult for receivers (i. Differential mode interference has the ability to disturb the operation of railroad signal equipment at interference voltage/current levels far below those needed for common mode interference to cause problems. It can differ in magnitude. this directly induced differential mode interference is usually not significant. First.) However. Common mode 2-19 . or in frequency or waveform. the “load”) to detect their intended signal. Any time that the undesired energy on the two conductors is not exactly the same .

creating an extreme circuit unbalance. or differing resistance to ground (Figure 2-18). If the source impedance were zero. Current would actually be limited by the impedance of the current loop.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) interference of 4 V ac rms exists on both conductors. This simple analysis ignores the source impedance. Now with one conductor at 4 V ac rms and the other at 0 V. Then one conductor is grounded. However. this still illustrates the extreme case where a common mode voltage is entirely converted to differential mode. Different leakage resistance to ground from the two rails through the ballast is a form of unbalanced impedance that can result in differential mode interference. the differential mode interference can vary anywhere from 0 V to 100% of the common mode interference level. there would be a dead short circuit across the voltage source. When railroad signal problems occur due to differential mode interference. Figure 2-17 Common Mode Voltage Converted to Differential Mode With varying degrees of receptor circuit unbalance caused by either source impedance differences to the two rails. this interference usually results from a combination of common mode coupling and receptor circuit unbalance. the differential mode interference is now 4 V ac rms. Figure 2-19. The differential mode interference is 0 V if there is no connection to ground. 2-20 .

Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Figure 2-18 Circuit with Different Resistances to Ground Figure 2-19 Circuit with Unbalance: Common Mode Interference Converted into Differential Mode Interference Receptor Circuit Unbalance The diagram in Figure 2-20 shows the relative polarity of both differential mode and common mode voltages in the railroad signaling system. differential mode is desired in the track or pole-line circuits. For proper operation of railroad signals. These track or pole-line circuits require good circuit balance for the signaling voltages to reach their destination without undue 2-21 .

”Balance” of the line implies that the resistance.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) distortion. 2-22 . If an “unbalancing” condition exists.k. a. that is. and interference with the rail system becomes possible. this common-mode energy now appears as differential across the control or signal input terminals.a. With one line held to ground potential (0 volts). interference with the railroad control or signal system will be the likely result. lightning arresters) Shorted insulated joints (results in unequal rail lengths) If one of the lines to the track circuit is grounded. capacitance and inductance of each conductor should be the same with respect to ground. Several major unbalanced conditions and their causes are: • • • • • Open wires in track or pole-line circuit Wires in track or pole-line circuit with abnormally low resistance to ground Abnormally low resistance from one or both rails to ground Failed rail-to-ground surge protective devices (SPDs. if the railroad control or signal lines are not balanced for some reason. the common-mode interference from earth conduction or either induction path still gets impressed on the rails. Figure 2-20 Differential Mode and Common Mode Voltages on Railroad Signals There are several causes of unbalanced conditions in rail circuits within the railroad control or signaling system itself. creating an unbalance.

and the receptors are the telecommunication equipment located nearby. European Model The “European model” for railroad interference could be viewed as shown in Figure 2-21. Self-powered (usually diesel-electric). Electrified locomotives are typical in the European Union and many other countries while diesel electric locomotion is more widely used in the Americas.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) European and North American Models The railroad industry employs two types of locomotion: 1. The three major types of coupling (magnetic and electric induction and earth conduction) are listed. Induced and conducted harmonics are produced by the non-linear rectification used to produce the dc and traction ac 2-23 . Electrified (third or fourth rail. the source of EMI is the electrified rail network or ac power equipment. Figure 2-21 European Interference Model In this view. and 2. In Europe the EMC Directive of the European Union (89/336EEC) mandates that emissions shall be kept below the legal levels specified. This logic attempts to ensure electromagnetic compatibility by pre-deployment testing of the equipment or subsystems to recognized international standards for both emissions and immunity. Known railroad sources of interference would include transient magnetic fields and conducted switching transients from the switching operations in the rail substations. and that the equipment shall demonstrate an intrinsic (designed in) resistance to outside interference (as the relevant testing standards demonstrate). overhead wire or “catenary”).

and earth conduction. and the receptors are the track or pole-line used by the railroad. which has high common-mode voltage rejection. the “North American model”4 for interference mechanisms is more relevant. often causing abnormal operation. electric induction. The name “European Model” is used because European standards presume electric traction. 4 It is important to note that the “European Model” is applicable wherever electric traction is used. noise from dirty insulators. This common-mode interference voltage is usually ignored by the railroad equipment. if an unbalancing condition is present it can force this common-mode interference to be impressed as differential-mode interference onto the leads of the control or signaling equipment. The same major coupling paths of magnetic and electric induction and earth conduction are also listed. The name “North American Model” is used because most trains in the Americas do not use electric traction. [6] North American Model In the U. In either model. In either model. The source of interference energy is shown as the distribution or transmission equipment used in the electric power system. corona. As with all power substations. wireless and telephone systems. 2-24 .S. or telecommunication equipment. and gap discharges between metallic parts all contribute to the local electromagnetic environment and provide a coupling path to the outside power. the dominant coupling paths are magnetic induction. as shown in Figure 2-22. and other diesel-electric rail areas. However. depending on what is the source and what is the receptor. and that the “North American Model” might be appropriate wherever diesel electric locomotion is used. Figure 2-22 North American Interference Model The source-path-receptor model can be viewed as European or North American in nature..Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) train power at these installations. a “common-mode” voltage can result on the railroad control or signal lines from any of these three paths.

Remember that for power-frequency interference on railroads we are primarily concerned with induced energy. regardless of where the problem may reside or manifest itself. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is a fact of modern life. Sources 5 The EMC community uses “radiated” to include both induced and radiated energy. and electrical potentials on exposed conductors is addressed in Chapter 7. electric fields. 2-25 . These tests are performed to ensure that source emissions do not exceed receptor immunity. Traditionally. It is important in any complex distributed system like the shared environment of railroads and power systems that electromagnetic compatibility is assured. This can be visualized as a simple 2x2 matrix of tests needed to determine if a product or system was “electromagnetically compatible.” A simple way of labeling these kinds of tests is shown below as the matrix of Table 2-3. the coupling paths for this interference were either conducted (through wires or earth) or induced (or radiated) through free space. and the European Union sets exposure limits through the IEC. conducted immunity. CENELEC and other standards organizations. radiated emissions. Causes of interference should be addressed using the most expeditious and cost-effective method. Table 2-3 Essential EMC Tests Emissions Conducted Induced (or Radiated) Conducted Emissions Radiated Emissions5 Immunity Conducted Immunity Radiated Immunity Conducted emissions. Any piece of equipment used in the shared environment of rail and power systems could be both a source and a receptor of emissions. both electric and magnetic. The United States sets limits on this field exposure through OSHA. and radiated immunity are the four essential types of tests. The issue of personnel safety from direct exposure to magnetic fields. with many new sources of interference and new receptors being introduced all the time. We use their term here because EMC standards use this term. Emissions & Immunity Testing The coupling mechanisms most prominent in modern shared rail and power environments are: • • • Magnetic Induction Electric Induction Earth Conduction We’ve mentioned that interference consists of emissions coming from “sources” and ending up as problems in “receptors”.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Personnel Safety All employees of electric power companies may be exposed to high levels of extremely low frequency (ELF) power-frequency electric and magnetic fields.

The varying amplitude of current being demanded by a product can cause differing brightness from incandescent lamps connected to the same lines. The product sits on a turntable and is rotated to obtain the maximum emissions. The tests are typically run with a fixed receiving antenna located 10 meters from the product being tested. The product is connected to a line-sampling device that senses the radio noise that is coming from the product and delivers it to a measurement receiver where it’s compared to the allowed limits. Each industry should take appropriate action to monitor and address them. the shape of the current demanded by the product under test can be seen as a power-line emission. Types of Immunity Tests For higher reliability prediction of the potential for interference. I/O.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) need to be controlled and monitored for changes in their emissions over time. Also. How often and how deeply the product draws current from the main power lines can affect other devices nearby on single-phase lines. This “flickering” of the lighting is considered a flicker emission and is regulated in Europe as a form of power-line related emissions under the EMC Directive [10]. These methods place amplified RF voltages onto the power & I/O lines of the equipment to assess the resistance to induced common-mode interference voltages [12]. The site for radiated emissions testing can be an open area test site (OATS) or a 10-Meter anechoic chamber. such as a switched-mode power supply demands. using capacitive or inductive clamp injection techniques. Types of Emissions Tests Radiated emissions tests set limits on how much RF energy a product can radiate through space. it will be rich in harmonic content. and the field strengths compared to appropriate limits. Conducted emissions tests measure how much energy the product can leak back into (and possibly re-radiate from) its power cord. and assumes several forms that represent known threats to electrical & electronic equipment. Immunity to interference needs to be assured so that the systems may function reliably in the environment for which they were intended. both installations being without radio signals or reflections [8]. Continuous RF energy radiating onto the chassis of a system can occur in urban areas with strong local transmitters. These harmonic emissions (currents) will distort the main electric lines and affect distribution transformers by adding low-order odd harmonic power to their neutral lines. immunity testing can be used to quantify the product’s resistance to outside interference. If the current waveform is non-sinusoidal. Such energy or the effects of its modulation could affect high-reliability products. 2-26 . or data lines of high-reliability distributed installations requires conducted immunity testing of those lines. Each industry needs to understand their sources and their receptors. and testing for radiated immunity ensures compatibility in the intended harsh environment [11]. sometimes causing overheating and damage [9]. Larger products are tested on all sides. Conducted immunity methods are used for this simulation because they are repeatable. thus assuring the electromagnetic compatibility needed in critical systems like railroads and power systems [7]. To simulate the effects of radiated RF energy from local transmitters onto the power.

A “competent body” assembles a technical file that includes an EMC management plan. 15. needs resetting Non recoverable (damaged) Power-line related tests try to simulate several effects such as power-frequency magnetic fields. switching oscillations. low-energy conducted events on power and I/O lines can result from switch arcing. These plans include testing each subsystem to appropriate EMC standards. works after test Non self-recovering upset. arcing switch contacts.” That is. To simulate the damage inflicted by these “indirect” strikes. if no “harmful interference” is generated. Regulatory Structure There are two world-views on interference. the situation may require equipment modifications or mitigation of the interfering condition before operation resumes. In the American view. with two regulatory environments that reflect them: the American and European Union structures. both emissions and immunity performance of rail or power equipment is to be assured by testing before the equipment is placed into service. 19. 16] Other line interference tests simulate line dips and interrupts. in the form of electrostatic discharge (ESD) [21]. the situation is legal. and low frequency conducted disturbances. or nearby lightning storms. Table 2-4 Performance (failure) Criteria Type A B C D Criteria No failures. worked normally during test Self-recovering upset. and are simulated with electrical fast transient (EFT) testing on power and I/O lines [22]. In the European view. 18. Other threats are transient in nature like static discharge. impulse magnetic fields and damped oscillatory magnetic fields that are threats in heavy industrial settings like rail or power installations [14. Humans (users and service people) are also a threat to modern MOS-based circuitry because they can transfer charge into the product through touch.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Immunity Performance Immunity to any type of interference is quantified by monitoring the equipment under test (EUT or product) during a test for “failures” of the types shown in Table 2-4 [13]. and then testing the whole vehicle/assembly or power installation for emissions (if practical). [17. If the interference generated is “harmful” or interferes with licensed services. surge testing is conducted on power. 20] These power problems are simulated with special transient generators and programmable ac sources while observing the product for the signs of “failure” such as those in Table 2-4. 2-27 . emitting electromagnetic energy is acceptable as long as any interference thus generated is not “harmful. I/O and telecommunications lines [23]. harmonic and inter-harmonic immunities. The electromagnetic effects of lightning strikes can be destructive to wire-connected products within about five miles. Fast rise-time.

conducted immunity and radiated immunity. Table 2-5 Basic EMC Standards Type of Disturbance Radiated (radio waves) Conducted (in wires) Power-line related Emissions Military. U. Europe Military.S. for example). or U. U.S. interharmonic tolerance. Europe Europe. types of equipment.S. magnetic fields. common-mode disturbances Europe Europe Europe. EMC Standards in other Industries Eleven immunity tests. and they reference the type of disturbance being tested for (conducted emissions. By extending this simple model to the other types of interference widely responsible for equipment malfunctions. testing Electrostatic Discharge Electrical Fast Transients Lightning (surge) Standards have been written to quantify these various characteristics and to measure how little a product emits (emissions tests) and to predict how well it will resist several forms of outside interference.S. The tests shown are written for European. radiated emissions. Europe Military. These standards are also the basis for voluntary EMC standards used by providers of power installations and medical products in the EU and U. dips & interrupts. military. These basic standards describing emissions and immunity characteristics displayed by real-world electronic equipment and systems are shown in Table 2-5.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Basic EMC Standards The fundamental types of EMC tests were given in Table 2-3. Europe. harmonics/flicker Immunity Military. & some U. and the four emissions tests make up the “basic standards” for EMC testing in the European Union (EU). oscillatory waves. Europe Military. A matrix of these EMC standards requirements might look like Table 2-6. These basic standards are also the fundamental tests for assessing EMC performance of railway components and subsystems in the European Union.S. or how immune it is (immunity tests).. a larger matrix can be developed. Table 2-5. 2-28 . and include conducted emissions..

S.) Power installations (EU) Medical Products (U. are shown in Figure 2-23. The railway rolling stock and control & signaling industry in the U.S.S.) Medical Products (EU) Railway C&S (U. Also note that the European and American aircraft and automobile industries also use their own EMC testing standards for emissions and immunity that are internationally recognized. which only requires RF emissions and surge immunity testing.S.S.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Table 2-6 EMC Requirements Using Basic Standards Power installations (U. Radiated emissions and conducted emissions are required on more sophisticated wayside equipment using microprocessors. except AREMA (U. (through AREMA) only imposes EMI radiated emissions testing to FCC Part 15 on rolling stock and radiated & conducted emissions limits on wayside equipment. 2-29 . railways).S. interrupts and variations Harmonic & interharmonic tolerance Common-mode line disturbance All these EMC product standards call out similar basic standards for emissions & immunity to assess conformity. The limit lines for radiated emissions from microprocessor-based railroad control and signaling equipment in the U.) Railway C&S (EU) EMC Requirements using Basic Standards Emissions Immunity D D D D D D Radiated Emissions D D D D D D Conducted Emissions D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D Harmonics & Flicker Emissions ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) Radiated RF fields EFT (Electrical Fast Transient) Surge (lightning strike) Conducted RF Voltages Power-frequency Magnetic Fields Pulsed Magnetic Fields Oscillatory Magnetic Fields Line dips.

pole-line. FCC at 10 m AREMA Limit 400 FCC Limit 350 300 250 µV/m 200 150 100 50 0 0. 26. U. AREMA vs. for control or signaling equipment. secondary. This radiated emissions limit is extended down to 50 kHz to prevent conducted low frequencies from inducing interference into nearby control or signaling circuits. have probably not been installed or tested to CIGRE 36. since the Standard is new and voluntary (optional). Surge is one of several immunity standards in the EU’s basic standards series.1 1 MHz 10 100 1000 Figure 2-23 FCC Part 15 Radiated Emissions Limits for Digital Devices The red limit line shows the maximum E-field strength permitted for radiated emissions from ordinary digital devices in the U. capturing the maximum emission amplitudes. and EU legal environments are also different in regards to EMC enforcement. measured with average detection..04.01 0. 2-30 . including primary. which were also installed before the EMC Directive mandated EN 61000-6-5 emissions & immunity tests.S. those in the U.S. and power circuits [24. The same could be said of most power installations in Europe. AREMA also specifies the lightning surge protection required in North America for several railway applications. No other EMC immunity standards are required in the U. 25. and tertiary levels for track.S.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Radiated Emission Limits.S. The blue line shows the limits established for North American railway digital devices. This railroad digital device limit is measured with peak detection. such as control and signaling equipment with microprocessors. Regarding power installations. 27].

This informal system has left some gaps in EMC standards for the railway and power industries in the United States: • • • Power installations are not currently tested to CIGRE 36. 2-31 .S. thus announcing the rise of broadband and wireless technologies...Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Legal Environments In the U. The “chips” that run everything from clocks to wayside equipment and power plants are becoming smaller inside. A manufacturer’s compliance with this “new approach” Directive is indicated by testing to all relevant EMC emissions and immunity basic standards and stating such in the Declaration of Conformity that accompanies each product shipped with the required “CE Mark. but immunity standards are not universally applied. U. The operators of the interfering device shall remedy the interference condition at their own expense before the resumption of its operation [28]. power products. there are some emissions standards in force to avoid the creation of “harmful interference”. etc.S. such as computers. the concept of “harmful interference” takes precedence. industrial process & control. and old technical barriers still remain.S. as well as “incidental” radiators such as power equipment. but that isn’t exactly the case. The various parts of Title 47 affect intentional and unintentional radiators. aircraft.04 EMC Standards Electrified railways & their power stations do not have EMC standards in place Railway control & signaling equipment in the U. such as amateur radio. This shrinking geometry allows the addition of more features and capabilities. These new devices always feature faster clock speeds and wider-bandwidth I/O ports including video and wireless (microwave) signals. TV. states that emissions shall be kept below legal limits and that the products have “intrinsic” (designed in) immunity to outside interference to enable it to function properly in its intended environment.” At first glance. scientific measurement. All these trends point to increasing occurrences of EMC problems with and between these devices and the transportation electronic infrastructure. broadcast. autos. etc. 89/336 EEC. the concept of “compliance” is upheld. The law requires operation to cease if the product or installation is causing “harmful interference” to licensed services. In the U. it would appear that Europe has legislated away EMC problems between the railway and power systems. The EMC Directive. is tested to very few immunity standards Social Environments Changes in society have caused decreases in the number of new wired telephone lines being installed. There are many national systems in place. and their lower power consumption uses smaller voltage signals. Each industry. including fiber optics. much of which was installed before there were EMC standards written for them.S. telecommunications. has had to impose “voluntary” immunity standards upon itself. Often. stated in the Code of Federal Regulations (47CFR Part 15). industries have simply adopted the European immunity requirements that they had to meet anyway to sell their products into the EU. medical products. In the EU.

Addressing the gaps Are these gaps an American problem? Clearly. but bottom-up implementation of change (improvement) is slow to materialize and often follows problems. particularly telecommunications. which is a little sloppy and somewhat uncertain. Because of the increasing reliance on “chips” and broadband wireless technologies. distributed systems like rail & power cannot be tested before they are built. commercial and light industrial products to ensure compatibility (reliability). railroads and power installations are vulnerable to “intentional EMI” or sabotage because of their long conductors (acting as antennas). the doctrine of “harmful interference” allows the building of a “system” first and then its evaluation for EMC performance afterwards. The lesson of the past eight years of the EMC Directive in the EU is that orderly transition to emissions and immunity standards testing is better than no transition. but success is still determined after the completed system is installed. De-commissioned military equipment is available throughout the world at auction prices and some has been re-purposed for bad intent. In commercial aircraft. The “competent body” that assembles the technical file for the complete system for the railroad or power provider drafts an EMC management plan. only subsystems testing is possible. In railway (and bus) transportation.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) In a transportation setting. some with 2-way capability) and wireless connections such as Bluetooth or WiFi (IEEE-802. market forces have been slow in driving vendors to adopt voluntary EMC standards. as the U. and all CD players and other personal electronics emit RF energy that could interfere with some aspects of passenger rail operations. these arguments are somewhat flat. Large. Some PDA’s even offer 2-way wireless e-mail and gaming. engine control computers fried. and other instances of high power microwave damage have been documented [29]. In high-reliability life critical industries. In effect.) The European “compliance” approach has the benefit of orderly implementation of prudent testing standards for all consumer. (Particularly for the various Immunity threats in Table 2-6. and most of us do so. but much of their existing infrastructure was installed previously. Gambling machines have been compromised. the uncontrolled passenger. 2-32 .S. pipelines. all of us are familiar with the warnings that flight attendants give before take-off to turn off your cell phone and computer. Heavy industrial products are now being addressed in the power and railway industries. Problems with electric wheelchairs brought about the adoption of European-style EMC basic standards by the FDA in 1995. medical device industry experience has shown. Many manufacturers have complained of a greater market barrier to entry into the EU posed by these basic standards. even those within Europe. Top-down imposition of an EMC “Directive” chafes many people.11b) with laptop computers or personal digital assistants. all industries. Neither system is perfect. Recalls & problems have thus defined the “edges” of progress against interference conditions. however. the passenger expects to use intentional radiators such as cell phones (in several bands. They complain about the higher development & unit costs associated with testing to these basic standards and designing their products to pass them. these trends come with the new worldwide threat.

and to respect those of the other industry. further work is underway on the interoperability of the various national railways. omitting the other threats simulated in the basic standards. until recently. which can be sold in any part of the world quickly. improvement in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requires each industry to address its sources and its receptors. Power providers have a CIGRE standard (using the basic standards suite) that was rarely used in their acquisitions. rolling stock and wayside equipment is being tested for emissions and immunity before being CE marked. These facilities are featured in their sales presentations. In Europe. European power providers now acquire equipment tested to essentially the same basic standards suite. Many “new” European standards were based on existing American standards. The same idea could apply to the implementation of the basic standards through CIGRE for power equipment sold in the U. railway equipment is tested for FCC radiated & conducted emissions and ANSI surge only. AREMA could be the framework for further implementation of the basic standards for railway equipment. but a recognized International EMC standards structure could then be established. These trends are already emerging since railway and power equipment manufacturers have already installed EMC testing facilities in the U. In the U. In the US. other than some military installations.S. In the EU. citing enhanced reliability benefits..S. Railways Need To: • • • • • Identify counterparts in the power industry and maintain communication with them Incorporate EMC considerations in the planning and design of facilities Insist on EMC basic standards testing for new equipment Maintain good electrical balance in rail and pole-line circuits Provide training for staff on interference diagnosis & correction techniques Power Providers Need To: • • • • Identify counterparts in the railroad industry and maintain communication with them Incorporate EMC considerations in the planning and design of facilities Insist on EMC basic standards testing for new equipment Maintain good balance of currents on distribution lines to the extent practical 2-33 . Neither railways nor power systems are hardened to “intentional EMI” (IEMI) or sabotage anywhere in the world. as required.S.. For the existing railway and power installations in Europe or America.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Summary We currently have two systems of EMC standards in the world that are in the process of “harmonization” in many industries. Limits or methods may require adjustments. more “harmonization” with the basic standards would enhance compatibility and reliability in the railway and power equipment industries. decreasing their time to market and increasing their world market share. and vice versa. “World-designed” products are becoming the norm.

Limits for harmonic current emissions. IEC/CISPR 16-1. October 2000. Association of American Railroads & Edison Electric Institute. 9. 1993-08. Trends in device physics and control electronics are causing a proliferation of many new EMI sources and receptors. 10. Radio disturbance & immunity measuring apparatus. 6. References 5. Transmission Line Reference Book 345 kV and Above: Third Edition. Limitation of voltage fluctuations and flicker in low-voltage supply systems. 11. radio-frequency. July/August 2001. 2-34 . In response to this need. 1998-11. harmonized set of EMC (and other relevant) standards for “world-designed” products and systems. 7.. CENELEC. EPRI. 1995. Safety critical EMC on railways. September 1977. IEC/EN 61000-3-2/A14.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) • • • • • Maintain distribution line neutral conductors in good condition to reduce earth injection Consider mitigation for harmonic currents Sense and diagnose defective capacitor banks Consider mitigation for electrical noise from switching operations Provide training for staff on interference diagnosis & correction techniques Railway Signal Equipment Manufacturers need to: • • • Incorporate EMC considerations in the planning and design of equipment Comply with voluntary EMC basic standards testing for new equipment Develop new technologies to replace existing grade crossing train detection systems Systems-level EMC is becoming more important in design and operations of the railroad and power installations. the reliability or safety of the railway and power infrastructure could be compromised if EMC is ignored rather than managed. CENELEC. Radiated. IEC 61000-4-3. International Electrotechnical Commission. The management of systems-level EMC requires a plan and a standardized testing regimen to validate design decisions and the EMC performance of the subsystems. Approval Magazine. John Whaley & Dave Kearney. st 1 Ed. IEC/EN 61000-3-3. Principles & Practices for Inductive Coordination of Electric Supply and Railroad Communication/Signal Systems. With the increasing use of semiconductor-based control equipment. CA: 2005. International Electrotechnical Commission. 1011974. world market forces in all large industries are encouraging the adoption of a single. electromagnetic field immunity test. 8. Testing and mitigation of the completed systems is still required to assure electromagnetic compatibility within and between the finished railroad and power systems. Palo Alto. and electromagnetic compatibility will be a growing concern in the future.

st 18. News & World Report.3. International Electrotechnical Commission. Code of Federal Regulations. Electrostatic discharge immunity test 1st Ed. 2001. IEC 61000-4-16. 1999 47CFR15. 2-35 . 19.1. International Electrotechnical Commission.. IEC 61000-4-13. IEC 61000-4-11. 13. 2001-03. 28. International Electrotechnical Commission. International Electrotechnical Commission. Recommended Design Criteria and Functional/Operating Guidelines for Secondary Surge Protectors for Electrical Surge Protection of Signal Systems. Test for immunity to conducted. IEC 61000-4-4. AREMA C&S Manual. Revised 1996. 2001-03. Part 11. 29. 17. 22. Immunity to conducted disturbances. IEC/EN 55024. AREMA C&S Manual. 1998-01.3. Voltage dips. Power frequency magnetic field immunity test 1 Ed. September 1998.2. 24. 20. common mode disturbances in the frequency range 0 Hz to 150 kHz 1st Ed. Limits and methods of measurement. 27. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61000-4-2. IEC 61000-4-5. Revised 2003. Revised 2003. short interruptions and voltage variations immunity tests 1st Ed. 2001-03. 2002 (pages 54-56). Recommended Design Criteria and Function of Solid State AC Primary Surge Protective Devices (SPDs) for Communication and Signal Systems. Recommended Design Criteria for Surge Withstand Capability of Electronic Signal Equipment for Signal Systems. Part 15 – Radio Frequency Devices U.Fundamentals of Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) 12. Damped oscillatory magnetic field immunity test 1 Ed. 1995-01.. Volume 1.3.. 1995-02.. Harmonics and interharmonics including mains signaling at a. Title 47. Govt. 2001-03. International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61000-4-10. Oscillatory waves immunity test 1 Ed. 1999-05. International Electrotechnical Commission. Part 11. 21.33 pages 664-665. AREMA C&S Manual. 23. Information technology equipment – Immunity characteristics. International Electrotechnical Commission.. Part 11. 1996-04. International Electrotechnical Commission.... Pulse magnetic field immunity test 1st Ed. Crossed Signals – The wireless threat to our electronic infrastructure.. U. IEC 61000-4-9. December 16. 1995-05. 26. Electrical fast transient/burst immunity test 1st Ed. CENELEC. induced by radio frequency fields 1st Ed. Revised 1996.S. 15. revised October 1.3. IEC 61000-4-12. st 14. International Electrotechnical Commission.6. Part 11.. IEC 61000-4-8.. Recommended Design Criteria and Function of Primary Surge Protective Devices for Communication and Signal Systems. 25. power port 1st Ed. st 16. IEC 61000-4-6.c. International Electrotechnical Commission.S. Surge immunity test 1st Ed.3. Printing Office. AREMA C&S Manual.

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Inc. and is a co-author of the EPRI Transmission Line Reference Book: 115-138 kV Compact Line Design and subsequent EPRI reports on line compaction and DOE reports on high phase order power transmission. he joined EPRI to manage the recently formed EMC Program. railroads. increased transmission capacity. EMF management. This compact line research was subsequently applied to voltage upgrading of existing transmission lines. and CIGRE. He later worked for Lockheed Electronics performing research and development on advanced phased-array antenna systems. Pennsylvania. as Technical Expert for Inductive Coordination and Electrical Effects at ComEd. Stewart participated in several of these upgrading studies. Later. he joined Commonwealth Edison (Exelon) in Chicago. ANSI. In this capacity he is responsible for research into issues ranging from interference with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). and pipelines. and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). He has over 30 years of experience in power systems and transmission lines. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem. Brian Cramer is the Technical Manager for Electromagnetic Compatibility in the Power Delivery group of EPRI. with responsibility for all B-1 bomber electronic countermeasures systems. He has been involved in experimental and analytical research of compact overhead transmission lines. he was responsible for maintaining effective working relationships with the two dozen railroads within ComEd’s service territory. to broadband data transmission over power lines (BPL). Dr. In 2001. Other projects include the effects of High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI) on power systems.” He is presently Chairman of the Transmission and Distribution Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society. where his responsibilities included right-of-way and site selection. He worked for AIL Systems as an integration lab manager.3 OVERVIEW OF POWER SYSTEMS This chapter provides an overview of the electric power transmission and distribution systems. 3-1 . He is a member of IEEE. Dr. having worked for Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation and Power Technologies. New York. with specific concentration on the factors impacting electromagnetic effects on railroads. He was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1987 for “advances in transmission line theory and its reduction to practice through prototype demonstration. In 1990. James Stewart is an independent consultant based in Scotia. AREMA.

Lightning protection is an important part of system design for reliability and dictates grounding practices at both the transmission and distribution level. For example. but the local power company personnel should always be consulted for confirmation of the types of equipment and issues present. transmission. Prominent characteristics of these areas of the power system are identified in the table below. grounds are applied at each service entrance to limit voltages to ground at the customers’ locations. including which pieces of equipment and operational conditions affect the railroad environment. Safety and fire protection considerations have led to secondary system grounding requirements to prevent damage or injury in the event of a cross between primaries and secondaries. and distribution. The samples depicted in the photographs should help the reader identify potential issues. This section is provided to provide a minimal background in power system design and operation with emphasis on the aspects of the power system that most contribute to the railroad’s ac interference environment. Some power companies also distinguish subtransmission as lying somewhere between transmission and distribution. Quick-Start Version Introduction to the Power System The electric power system consists of three main divisions: generation. Photographs will be used to assist in recognition of equipment and configurations. transmission.Overview of Power Systems Introduction For railroad personnel to fully comprehend the issues involved in mitigating ac interference in their systems. conducted current into the earth from power system ground connections is the source of conducted interference. Likewise. substations) are continuously kept in service with a minimum of down time. reliability considerations are paramount and all components (lines. and distribution. Other EMC considerations include electric field coupling from the voltage 3-2 . Customer generation and operational issues will be included. transformers. Other considerations such as personnel safety and protection of equipment also enter into the specification of grounding practices. they must have a basic understanding of power system design and operation. Reliability criteria dictate how the system must perform in the event of various levels of contingency. A general overview of the power system is provided covering electric company generation. Sources of earth current and their characteristics are given in the second table below. such as the unanticipated loss of a transmission line segment. The reader should remember that electrical equipment for a given function could vary in appearances. As such. This information is summarized in tabular form in the quick-start version. The power system exists to supply uninterrupted electricity to its customers. equipment with different functions can look very similar. From the standpoint of electromagnetic compatibility between electric power and railroad facilities. Each aspect will then be reviewed in some detail.

and short term emergency limits Loading may be limited by system stability. underground circuits are short because of charging current limitations Loading limits for lines and loading areas including normal. and weather Not distinguished in many systems. if any. may be reconfigured from time to time Loading is especially variable as customers turn devices on and off May be overhead or underground. direct customer connections. with underground especially in urban or new residential areas Subtransmission Distribution 3-3 . lower level bulk power connecting transmission and distribution substations 23 – 115 kV May serve large loads directly Local connections to supply customers or groups of customers 4 – 35 kV Short lines with many taps. or conductor temperature Loading follows a cycle with time of day. Table 3-1 Component Parts of the Power System Generation Transmission Converts sources of energy such as fuel. or nuclear material to electricity Bulk power transport connecting generating stations to substations serving load areas 69 – 765 kV Long lines with few. long term emergency. falling water. taps or customer connections May be overhead or underground. season. and branches. laterals. voltage control.Overview of Power Systems on overhead lines and magnetic field coupling from line current in both overhead and underground lines.

For many purposes it is reasonable to consider the generation. For example. transmission. and distribution functions generally extending over a large land area. there are exceptions. Some small generators feed directly into the distribution 3-4 . structures connected together through shield wires Fault current Distribution lines Neutral grounds on multi-grounded primaries Secondary grounds at service entrances and distribution transformers Normal load current and fault current Current may be rich in harmonics Capacitor banks with blown fuses are a common source of harmonic interference Especially significant on single-phase portions of feeders Current variable as load changes Substations Substation ground mat is generally the lowest resistance path to earth With multiple distribution lines leaving a substation. This system has evolved over more than 100 years.Overview of Power Systems Table 3-2 Sources of Current Entering Earth from the Power System Transmission lines Structure grounds. As with all generalities. the earth around the substation can be “rich” with neutral current Detailed Version Introduction to the Power System The interconnected electric power system is an integrated entity comprising generation. Transmission lines are point-to-point affairs. the transmission system is designed to efficiently transport bulk electric power long distances from generating stations to substations serving a given load area. reaching down to each customer. and distribution functions separately because they have different design requirements and constraints. Some large industrial customers receive power directly from the transmission system. The distribution system is designed to locally supply power to the end user. transmission. Distribution lines are complex.

The control possibilities that exist with DC. together with relative freedom from inductive and capacitive reactance. make it appealing for long-distance heavily-loaded applications where the cost of converter stations at 3-5 . These transmission and distribution facilities represent a very large investment in fixed assets.Overview of Power Systems system. Figure 3-1 Overview of the Electric Power System In North America the electric power system is predominantly 60 Hz ac with three-phase transmission and primary distribution. Europe uses predominantly 50 Hz ac systems. In addition to transmission and distribution. some utility companies also distinguish a “subtransmission” system intermediate between transmission and distribution. especially for long lines carrying heavy loads. Some DC transmission lines exist.

although some single-phase transmission exists in the Northeastern United States to supply the northeast corridor passenger railroad. On a distribution feeder the main substation circuit breaker must be coordinated with downstream fuses and reclosers (a. The long-term emergency ratings may not be approached indefinitely. As a result elaborate precautions are taken for reliability. On a three-phase system the phase-to-phase voltage is √3 (≈1. two-phase. Limitations on loading of transmission and distribution facilities are more complex than may be generally thought. primary distribution voltages generally range from 4. The required isolation time depends on whether the fault involves transmission or distribution. Generation must be rescheduled or other changes made within the time defined by the short term emergency rating in order to keep the electrical system components operating within long term emergency ratings.a. and short-term emergency conditions. Loss of a single transmission line cannot be allowed to push another line beyond its short-term emergency rating. Transmission protection involves various levels of backup protection. some 25 Hz power remains. A faulted line that has been electrically isolated is said to have “tripped”. selectivity to identify the faulted object and not to falsely trip something that is not faulted. subtransmission voltages generally range from 23 to 115 kV. In addition. and in some places a few 2-phase customers remain. Voltage ranges for transmission and distribution vary by geographic location and company. Relay protection is part art and part science. power systems and their components typically have ratings for normal. automatic reclose breakers) along the feeder to allow isolation of a fault with minimum disruption of service to customers. Excess A “fault” is a short circuit failure from one phase wire to another. Primary distribution lines are three-phase with single-phase laterals. or single-phase with increased distance from the distribution substation. backup protection will operate to remove the fault. and individual companies have developed sets of reliability criteria necessary for proper operation of the system.5 kV. One limit on power lines and equipment is their thermal capacity. There can be some overlap between what is considered transmission and what is considered distribution. and involves coordination of a number of different protective devices.73) times the phase-to-ground voltage. This discussion will focus on 60 Hz ac power systems.Overview of Power Systems the ends of the line can be justified. 1 3-6 . Voltages are generally specified on a phase-to-phase basis. A significant part of reliability centers on relaying and system protection. Transmission voltages in the United States generally range from 69 to 765 kV. Various reliability councils. so in the event of the failure of a relay to detect a fault or a circuit breaker to interrupt the fault. Relay protection involves sensitivity to detect faults. The power system must reliably supply power to the customers with a minimum of interruption. power pools. Almost all transmission is three-phase. A “relay” is a device that senses a fault. although at the expense of additional system components being tripped. In order to attain this.8 to 34. especially in residential areas. A faulted line section or other system component must be electrically isolated from the rest of the system in a 1 very short time .k. states. or to ground. long-term emergency. The “N-1” criterion demands that the overall power system continue to supply the entire load with any single element out of service. and sufficient speed to maintain stability and limit damage. In rural areas primary distribution lines can be three-phase.

A line trip resulting from a fault on a heavily loaded system can cause a redistribution of load among parallel paths. changes in the terrain. Load cycles are factored into thermal ratings of underground cables. for example the thermal time constant of an underground cable is significantly longer than the thermal time constant of an overhead line. Lines have an electrical phase angle difference between ends. Reduced clearance generally results from increased line sag. As the system swings to attempt to attain a new equilibrium operating condition. a broken wire) or reduced life (e.g. The transmission system also is faced with stability concerns. Shunt capacitors and reactors are used for voltage control. The result can be structural failure (e.g. Although. with numerous lines. This is the technical background for many blackouts. A power system may face voltage collapse under heavy loading conditions with insufficient sources of reactive power. but reduce the power flow on the line. An overhead line achieves its new temperature in a few minutes. Because thermal damage can be cumulative and is a function of temperature and time. there are voltage drop criteria to be met to ensure voltages remain within acceptable limits. fault. while an underground line takes many hours to reach a new equilibrium temperature. Normal thermal ratings are established such that no damage or reduced equipment life will result from continuous operation at these levels. This further loads the rest of the system. and generators. the line protection operates. and construction. Thermal ratings are a function of season of the year and weather conditions. which is related to power flow on the line. because of the series inductive reactance of power transmission lines. if the angles open too far. If this angle exceeds 90 electrical degrees. Active devices such as static var compensators are increasingly applied for voltage control. the condition is mathematically the same as a fault. but not overhead line conductors. In addition to load capacity considerations. and an additional line trips. attempts to increase the load increase the angle. an unstable condition. the springs may break. The overall power transmission system is very complex. Such voltage collapses have been the cause of blackouts. the power system can handle a certain amount of load if the changes are gradual. Analysis of this level of complexity requires digital computer load flow. both steady state and transient. Different contingencies must 3-7 . if the load is applied suddenly. Worst-case clearance usually results from either high loading conditions (conductor heating) or heavy ice accumulation on the lines. If the angle opens to 180 degrees during swinging. Another limit on power lines is their clearance from the ground or objects. A cascading failure may result. This makes a difference in how normal and emergency ratings are determined. and stability programs to study conditions over a widely ranging area. Thermal characteristics are different for different things. as are transformer taps and adjustment of excitation of generating units. but may become unstable for the same load if the changes are sudden. as well as good engineering practice. reduced clearance can also result from growth of trees. However. expected transformer life reduced from 30 years to 20 years). An analogy to power system transient stability can be made by considering a collection of weights suspended from a number of springs. The springs can hold a certain amount of weight if the load is applied gradually. Standards. Likewise. long-term emergency ratings and shortterm emergency ratings are established. Sometimes clearance limits are reached before thermal limits. buses.Overview of Power Systems heat over time weakens metal and causes a variety of problems. the system can become unstable. These limits are a function of voltage and are established by various Codes. regulatory bodies.

Thermal rating is more of a mechanical than an electrical engineering issue because it is primarily a heat transfer phenomenon. and stability. Overhead Transmission Lines Overhead transmission lines consist of a number of components: foundations. Historically. For example. steel pole. Among those factors is whether the structure is a tangent (straight line) structure. through high speed communications. voltage collapse. Mechanical engineering design variables include such things as dampers to eliminate conductor damage due to aeolian vibration in wind. and steel lattice. than on the overhead system. Other facilities near power transmission and distribution lines must therefore adapt to their continuous presence. This whole area of system engineering has been complicated by deregulation. and electric and magnetic field coupling to nearby objects. but more quickly repaired than underground construction. sometimes relaying would be designed so that under certain conditions a line trip would also transfer trip2 a generating unit to preserve stability. especially on heavily loaded portions of the transmission system. Electrical. Transmission line structures come in a number of different types: wood pole. light angle structure. Overhead construction is less expensive. the generating and transmission systems were designed together to make an integrated whole. and thermal ratings of conductors. voltage control requirements. ice galloping. to connect the insulators to the structures and the insulators to the conductors). A single line can have many different structure configurations. Outages on the underground system tend to be less frequent. and more subject to disruption by weather. concrete pole. The design of structures and foundations is a civil engineering function. the power system is required to operate with all facilities intact as much as possible. Transmission and distribution facilities may be overhead or underground. Mechanical loading requirements differ widely depending on several factors. insulators. and civil engineering all are involved in design of overhead transmission lines. Operating procedures were developed to handle different types of contingencies. Underground systems have different electrical characteristics from overhead systems due to the greater line capacitance in underground systems. Combined overhead and underground lines are becoming more common. various types of hardware (e. conductors. Electrical concerns include insulation for power frequency voltage. Maintenance outages are few and far between. They can be self-supporting or guyed. Reliable operation of the transmission system is an increasingly difficult challenge. or pushing other lines or equipment beyond their short-term emergency ratings. For example. Outages are also few on the distribution system. making it necessary to construct a portion of the line underground. 2 3-8 . mechanical. switching surges. where the generation siting and transmission planning functions have become decoupled.Overview of Power Systems be evaluated to ensure that they do not result in instability. commands fault clearing switches at another location to trip. especially where customer outages may also be involved. or A “transfer trip” is when a relay senses a fault at one location and. but of longer duration. and lightning. as well as electrical environmental effects such as radio and television interference. it may be impossible to secure a right-of-way for a portion of an overhead transmission line route. and overhead shield wires.g. As a result of the constraints of thermal limitations. structures. audible noise.

The number of shield wires and their placement relative to the phase conductors are crucial to achieving acceptable shielding failure performance. Figure 3-2 Overhead Transmission Structure Types The overhead shield wires are installed above the phase conductors and provide the primary lightning protection for transmission lines. Lower voltage transmission or distribution circuits may be constructed underneath the main circuit (“underbuild”). called shielding failures and backflashovers. or more three-phase circuits in addition to the shield wires. A shielding failure occurs when lighting is not intercepted by the shield wires and directly strikes a phase conductor. An additional function of the shield wire is to provide a return path for power frequency fault currents. The shield wire must be sized to handle the maximum fault 3-9 . two.Overview of Power Systems heavy angle/dead end structure. Lightning failures of transmission lines result from two mechanisms. Individual transmission line structures may support one. This tends to happen for lightning flashes having relatively low stroke current.

a double circuit three-phase line with 2 shield wires would have 8 total conductors. that is. Because electromagnetic waves travel approximately 300 meters per microsecond. it is essential that the shield wires be grounded to earth through low resistance grounds at each structure. Contamination performance and leakage distance considerations are the reason insulator strings are longer for the same voltage transmission line in areas such as seacoasts with extensive salt contamination.5 microseconds. the leading edge of the current wave on the shield wire has only traveled about 450 meters. Lightning is a phenomenon best considered as a current injection of thousands of amperes in a microsecond time frame.Overview of Power Systems current it might be called upon to carry. Other designs use the wood as part of the impulse insulation strength with the down lead spaced away from the poles for a distance near the insulator attachment points. and occasionally the unbalance can become a significant percentage of the average phase current. which covers the entire line. This is backwards from a shielding failure where the conductor rises to a higher voltage than the structure. Perhaps the most important single parameter for preventing lightning backflashover is reducing the footing resistance to earth of the structures. The shield wire reduces the zero sequence reactance of the circuit. There is insufficient time for the traveling wave to travel down the line to find a good ground to prevent flashovers. Leakage distance is one of the insulator characteristics presented in insulator catalog data. As part of the lightning protection. Thus. leakage current in the wood in this arrangement is a potential cause of pole fires. for a lightning impulse cresting in 1. for balanced conditions there is no current returning anywhere other than in the phase conductors. making it necessary for each structure to be well grounded. lightning performance is a very localized phenomenon as opposed to power frequency insulation. three voltages of equal magnitude spaced 120 electrical degrees and three currents of equal magnitude spaced 120 electrical degrees. Thus. For balanced conditions the three phase voltages sum to zero and the three phase currents sum to zero. From the standpoint of electromagnetic compatibility. However. which is in turn related to the type of insulator and its leakage distance. Sometimes the connection points are connected to the down leads to firmly ground the structure end of the insulator. Power frequency voltage insulation design is especially related to the contamination performance of the insulators. A backflashover occurs when the lightning-caused voltage rise on a structure is sufficiently above the impulse strength of the insulation so that the voltage flashes over from the structure to the conductor. the transmission line can be considered as a set of conductors equal to the total number of phase and shield wires. This is typical in the transmission system because neutrals are grounded at Y-connected transformers in substations. especially in high lightning activity areas. Figure 3-9. there is always a small amount of unbalance in the phase currents. But in reality. For example. In addition to lightning. 3 3-10 . The effect of the shield wires on fault current flow is desired by system protection engineers for enhanced relay protection. increasing the fault current. wood pole structures have down leads connecting the shield wires to grounded electrodes (ground rods or butt wraps) at the base of the poles. For acceptable lightning performance. Transmission lines are frequently considered to be well balanced. When the three phase currents do not sum to zero3. There are two approaches to grounding the point where the insulators connect to wooden structures. transmission lines must be designed for adequate power frequency voltage and switching surge overvoltage conditions.

for the fault duration. currents significantly greater than load current 4 One cycle lasts 1/60 of a second at 60 Hz. a current may flow in the shield wires as a result of the connection they create between the substation ground mats. In addition to normal load current. Sometimes attempts are made to segment shield wires to reduce losses or for other reasons. currents on the order of tens of thousands of amperes flow for short periods during faults. but the drawbacks may preclude using anything other than a continuous shield wire. Current may also flow in the shield wires for other reasons. 3-11 . both for stability reasons and to limit arc damage.Overview of Power Systems some of the unbalance current returns in the shield wires and some returns in the earth. Some of this current flows between earth and the shield wires at the structure grounds because of the relative impedance differences of the different paths. A transmission line connects substations that may be separated by a number of miles. transmission line fault currents are short-lived. However. Figure 3-3 Double Circuit Line with 2 Shield Wires – 8 Total Conductors Current also flows in the shield wires as a result of magnetic field coupling from the phase conductors. As the potential of the ground mats of the substations may be different. Fault clearing times on transmission typically last 2 to 6 cycles. Thus. It is necessary to isolate and eliminate faults within a few cycles4.

a. Cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) (a.a. Low Pressure Fluid Filled Cable (a. the fault current returns both in the earth and the shield wires. This is the predominant type of transmission cable in old installations in North America. or in the case of submarine cables a wrap of armor wires. Solid Dielectric Cable or Extruded Dielectric Cable): These are cables with solid insulation. grounded at only one end. generating heat and reducing the cable ampacity. Occasionally direct buried.Overview of Power Systems occur. A third option is “cross-bonding. a plastic material. 3-12 . these cables may be installed in steel or plastic pipes. A circulating current arises in the sheath because of magnetic induction between the central conductor and the sheath. a second semiconducting covering. This preserves the function of the sheath in grading the electrical stress in the cable insulation. Power loss is reduced. lowering the external magnetic field. Three phases are installed in a single pipe. Step and touch potentials are concerns at structures and substation fences during faults. The magnetic field from the circulating current partially cancels the magnetic field from the phase current. In order to reduce the power loss and increase cable ampacity. that is. construction of three phases in a relatively small single steel pipe results in low external magnetic fields and the least induction to parallel objects. the sheaths may be single point grounded. The division of current between earth and shield wires depends on the relative impedance of these two parallel paths. The outer protective covering may be lead. substantial currents flow in the structure grounds as the fault current seeks the proper division between earth and shield wires. and the protective outer covering. Grounding of the cable sheaths has an effect on circulating current in the sheaths and on the magnetic field outside the cables. The circulating current and resulting magnetic field cancellation are functions of the electrical resistance of the sheath. a conducting sheath. but eliminates the circulating current. the main cable insulation. Self-Contained Fluid Filled Cable): These are cables where the insulating fluid is at relatively low pressure internal to the phase cables. a semiconducting covering. The circulating current in the sheath results in a power loss in the sheath. Both near the fault and near the substation.k. They may be installed in steel or plastic pipes. When faults from phase to ground occur.” where the ground path may go from one end on the sheath of phase A to the sheath of phase B at approximately the 1/3 point along the cable. but external magnetic field is increased. The grounded conducting sheath is necessary to insure a uniform electric field gradient within the cable insulation and prevent locally high fields that would degrade the insulation and cause electrical failure. although it is rarely installed today. and are typical of lower transmission voltages. Multi-grounded sheaths have the sheaths grounded at least at the two ends of the cable. This type is typical of 345 kV cables being installed today. Of the three cable types. Underground Transmission Lines Underground transmission lines fall into three main categories: • High Pressure Fluid Filled (HPFF) Cable: These are paper-insulated cables installed in steel pipes filled with insulating fluid maintained under high pressure. • • Each conductor of an underground cable has a construction consisting of the central core conductor.k.

As with overhead lines. not only during normal operation. and laterals. but especially during abnormal conditions such a restoration from a power failure. an overhead line can withstand flashovers without damage. This preserves the redundancy in grounding of multi-grounded sheaths while virtually eliminating sheath currents. Distribution engineers refer to the high voltage side of the distribution line as the “primary” and the low voltage connection to the customer as the “secondary. Charging current also is a concern for voltage control. Overhead transmission lines have widely spaced conductors with air acting as the insulating dielectric.Overview of Power Systems to the sheath of phase C at approximately the 2/3 point along the cable.” and then serve loads through many branches. underground lines have greater capacitance per mile than overhead lines. A distribution line starts at the distribution substation. Current flowing into the line capacitance is called “charging current. and a single-phase 7200 to 120/240 volt transformer would provide 120/240 volt secondary service to a group of houses. underground transmission systems have some fundamental differences from overhead systems. If the cables are installed in a steel pipe. may proceed for several miles along what is termed an “express feeder. In contrast.470 volt feeder may start at a substation. The induced voltages along the three segments approximately sum to zero. 3-13 . This is especially important because if cable insulation is damaged. Underground transmission lines have closely spaced conductors with solid dielectric material with a higher dielectric constant. a three-phase 12. a 7200 volt single-phase tap can branch off down a side street. the steel pipe itself is the primary return path for fault current to ground. distribution lines have rather complex topology. Overhead Distribution Lines Whereas transmission lines are generally point-to-point (although there are occasional threeterminal lines). it is necessary to consider fault currents and the paths they follow. Thus.” For example. making the sheath current small. Careful coordination of shunt reactors may be required to limit overvoltages. taps.” Because of this charging current. the charging current limits how long a cable circuit may be before charging current uses up the entire cable ampacity. a long and costly repair is required. At higher voltages.

it may not have been practical or economic to convert the entire feeder. they may be on pin-type insulators on candlestick brackets.470/7200V Primary with a Multi-Grounded Neutral Distribution voltages and grounding techniques are dependent on local history and practices. necessitating joint use agreements.470-volt wye-connected multi-grounded lines.470-volt feeder through transformers called ratio banks by the line crews.Overview of Power Systems Figure 3-4 Distribution Transformer Feeding Single-Phase 120/240V Load from a Three-Phase wye-Connected 12. Construction practices differ with locality and operating company. or on post insulators mounted directly on the poles. perhaps to 12. There may also be a mixture of voltages and grounding practices on a single feeder. Messenger wires for telephone and cable television cables are metallic conducting paths parallel to the distribution circuit neutral and carry some of the neutral current. For cost or other reasons. Wires may be supported on pin-type insulators mounted on crossarms. Isolated sections may remain 4800-volt delta fed from the 12. or reinforced concrete. among other possible configurations. steel. The same poles used for power distribution lines are also frequently used for telephone and cable television wires. 3-14 . For example in some locations it was common years ago to install 4800-volt delta-connected feeders with transformers connected line-to-line. Poles may be wood. Over a period of time these feeders may have been upgraded.

with different philosophies often present in the same geographic area. So.Overview of Power Systems Figure 3-5 Distribution Pole with Telephone and Cable Television Wires Primary Feeder Grounding Distribution primary feeder grounding practices are different in North America from what they are in Europe. 240 volts in Europe) contribute to these differences in design philosophy. Different secondary voltages (120 volts in North America. Different practices prevail in different parts of North America as well. As far as grounding is concerned. depending on the age of the feeder. primary feeders can be described under several broad categories: • • • • • 4-wire multi-grounded. the length of secondary wires is limited and the primaries are relatively long with branches and taps giving significant complexity. except for urban secondary network systems. The general practice in Europe is to feed many customers from a single secondary of considerable physical extent. which then lead to differences in feeder grounding practices. 4-wire single point grounded 3-wire ungrounded 3-wire grounded (unigrounded) 5-wire 3-15 . In the United States few customers are fed from a single transformer.

both during normal operation and during faults. Figure 3-6 4-Wire Multi-Grounded Feeders The neutral wire in this arrangement is grounded at the substation. A low resistance path from neutral to earth still exists in the event of a failure of a single ground connection.Overview of Power Systems 4-Wire Multi-Grounded Feeders In North America. and more than half of a typical distribution feeder is single phase. A three-phase multi-grounded feeder consists of 4 wires: 3 phase conductors and a neutral wire often mounted on the pole below the phase wires. Transformers are connected phase-to-neutral in this arrangement. The neutral wire in parallel with the earth forms the path for unbalance currents to return to the source at the substation. Ground connections are frequently made to the neutral wire at least every 500 to 1000 5 feet along a feeder. The neutral acts as a physical barrier. 5 3-16 . The neutral wire in parallel with the earth forms a low impedance path for fault current back to the source. at transformers. a neutral path still exists to the substation through the various connections to earth. the earth serves as a return conductor for part of the unbalance current. Most customers in the United States are single phase. System fault protection can more easily clear faults with a multi-grounded neutral. with code requirements of a minimum of four grounds per mile . 4-wire multi-grounded feeders are the most common choice today for cost and safety reasons. The ease and low cost of supplying single-phase loads is a major reason for use of the 4 wire multi-grounded system in the United States. One phase and the neutral supply single-phase loads. Lightning arresters are also grounded to the neutral wire. Because the neutral wire is in parallel with the earth. Typically the division is assumed to be approximately 50% in the neutral wire and 50% in the earth. Even if the neutral wire is severed. A very important advantage of the multi-grounded neutral design is the significant safety benefits it provides both for customers and power company crews. and possibly elsewhere. allowing the use of single bushing transformers with a single surge arrester and fuse per transformer. very old feeders built under earlier versions of the NESC (Code) might not have four grounds per mile. as In the United States.

the local voltage to ground rises on the other two phases6. The multi-grounded configuration has lower equivalent zero sequence reactance and lower voltage rise on the un-faulted phases. One consequence of the use of the multi-grounded neutral is that current flows into the earth at the neutral wire grounding locations. Multi-grounded systems allow the use of insulators and arresters with lower voltage ratings (but still at least line-to-ground voltage). because they require a good low resistance local ground connection for proper operation. Grounding the neutral helps prevent dangerous step and touch voltages during such faults. 4-Wire Single-Point Grounded Feeders The 4-wire single-point-grounded system also consists of three phase wires and a neutral wire. Ungrounded systems require insulators and arresters that are rated for at least the full line-to-line voltage. In a single-point grounded system. 7 6 3-17 . The presence of a fault would be identified by a change in the three phases’ voltages to ground. In contrast . Since distribution transformers are connected line-to-neutral. especially from the 1920s through the 1940s. The difference is that the neutral wire is grounded only at the substation. Another significant advantage to the multi-grounded feeder is limitation of neutral shift and local voltage rise between phase conductors and ground. Many feeders of this type were installed in the North America. both during normal operation and during faults. it still may be significant during normal operation. The insulators and lightning arresters selected are a function of the amount of voltage rise possible on the un-faulted phases. On a threephase feeder. and time would be allowed for location and repair of the fault.Overview of Power Systems well as providing a solid fault current path when a phase conductor contacts the neutral wire. a benefit of the 4-wire single-point grounded system is that there is no return current injected into the earth during normal operation. This arrangement has been used in special situations. Single-point neutral grounding presents a problem for grounding of lightning arresters. The prevailing theory was that during a single phase fault to ground the other phases would rise to line-to-line The amount of voltage rise on un-faulted phases is related to the ratio between zero sequence equivalent reactance and positive sequence equivalent reactance of the system at the fault location. during a single-phase fault to ground. On the other hand. if the neutral wire is open. 3-Wire Ungrounded Feeders The original premise of the ungrounded feeder fed from a delta-connected transformer was the ability for the feeder to continue to operate in the presence of a single fault between a phase and ground. A concern with the single-point grounded system is the safety issue if the neutral wire were to break or become open7. especially under fault conditions. the path to the substation is severed. the neutral path to the substation is preserved through the various ground connections and the earth even if the neutral wire is open. there is the possibility of significant overvoltages with an open neutral wire if there is only one ground connection located back at the source.in a multi-grounded system. While the current flow into the earth is much greater during faults.

This requires insulators and arresters rated for line-to-line voltage rather than line-to-ground voltage.Overview of Power Systems voltage above local ground. length of circuit. fire. they generally have been converted from ungrounded feeders to multi-grounded feeders. Lightning arresters still require local low resistance grounds. Many times the cost of converting the entire feeder to higher voltage was not justified because of the amount of load. Arcing ground faults could also excite resonances and result in very high overvoltages and consequent damage. or other reasons. Because of this. Figure 3-7 3-Wire Ungrounded Feeders The problem with this approach is that in reality. This condition results in a voltage on the unfaulted phases possibly considerably in excess of phase-to-ground voltage with consequent possibility of insulation damage. Thus under certain circumstances. Especially during a fault condition a series resonance may occur between capacitance and the feeder and/or transformer reactance. all systems are grounded through parasitic capacitance in the absence of a resistive connection to earth. As ungrounded delta feeders have been upgraded by increasing voltage. The same reasoning was applied in industrial installations that had ungrounded wiring. it is possible to have the line-to-ground capacitance resonate with the system inductance. or personnel injury. For example. an isolated housing development may not have been converted because of the need to change all the pole transformers. many multi-grounded feeders continue to have ungrounded portions fed from transformers 3-18 .

It is similar to the 3-wire ungrounded feeder in that there are only 3 phase wires to the feeder. but loses the advantage of being able to operate in the presence of a single fault to ground. The 3-wire unigrounded system is more common than the multi-grounded system in California and much of the rest of the world outside the United States. and has been widely used in industrial applications. European practice is to serve a larger number of customers per transformer than in North America. some current can flow in the earth during faults to ground. The need to string 3 rather than 4 wires is a cost saving that led to the use of 3-wire systems in the early years of the power industry. A “zig-zag” connection was developed specifically for that purpose. Most of the unigrounded systems in California have solidly grounded neutrals. European residential customers may be supplied with 2 phases of a 3-phase secondary. Its use in California results from California’s rules for overhead line construction that require overhead neutral conductors be mounted on insulators and that the grounding conductors for the primary neutral be separate from those of the secondary neutral. Most European transformers are three-phase and much larger MVA than the mostly single-phase American transformers. except that the neutral conductor is not taken out of the substation. However. This connection has the disadvantage that single-phase laterals require blowing of two fuses to clear faults. care must be taken to ensure that the grounding transformer does not become disconnected and allow the neutral to float (the zero sequence path must be closed). It is not uncommon to have multi-grounded and ungrounded feeder segments in the same geographic area. Grounding transformers have also been applied to distribution feeders.Overview of Power Systems (called ratio banks by linemen) on pole pedestals. 3-wire ungrounded systems are less expensive than 4-wire feeders for supply of 3-phase loads. When a grounding transformer is used. European distribution systems are normally 3-wire with all loads being three-phase or connected line-to-line. Blowing of only one fuse can subject customers to extended periods of abnormally low voltage. Some European countries have restrictions on the use of the earth as a parallel return path based on protection of communication circuits from interference. although some have low impedance reactors to limit fault current. Many industrial systems have been converted from ungrounded to grounded systems by installation of grounding transformers. so no current flows in the earth during normal operation. European practice has no need for a primary circuit neutral. Ungrounded systems have no return path through the earth. 3-19 . twice the 120 volts used in North America. With the higher secondary voltage. This reduces magnetic field and conductive and magnetic field induced interference. This has the advantage of holding feeder voltages closer to ground. 3-Wire Grounded (Unigrounded) Feeders A 3-wire grounded feeder (also called unigrounded system) is like the 4-wire single point grounded feeder. The use of ungrounded systems has been declining for many decades in the United States both in primary distribution feeders and industrial installations. As a result. The European standard secondary voltage ranges from 220 to 240 volts. as opposed to the United States practice of serving residential customers with two 120-volt connections 180 degrees out of phase. This discourages use of multi-grounded neutrals. In contrast to North American practice.

so this arrangement is not used in the United States. with European practices more widely followed. The multigrounded ground wire performs the safety functions of the neutral in the multi-grounded feeder. where grounded neutrals were reestablished at each step-down transformer. 3-20 . Both 3 and 4-wire systems are used outside of Europe and North America. a neutral. This is an inexpensive approach for use in sparsely settled areas with long feeder distances and little load. voltage control and safety are issues. This is similar to a 3-phase building branch circuit. In some parts of the world a combination of the two is used. and a safety ground. This was a common practice in some rural locations in Canada. The secondary grounding provides the safety grounding in this arrangement. With longer and more elaborate secondaries. The American National Electrical Safety Code (IEEE C2-1997) prohibits the use of the earth as the sole conductor for any part of the circuit. The 5-wire design has 3 phase conductors. The isolated neutral carries the unbalance return current back to the substation isolated from earth. and a multigrounded ground wire. Other Systems A single wire earth return primary is used in some remote and rural parts of the world. and the resistance of ground connections is critical. Perhaps the worst is where 120-volt secondaries are combined with European style primaries. but has yet to be used for an actual application.Overview of Power Systems European designs frequently have a multi-grounded secondary neutral of considerable extent with many houses on each transformer. European primaries generally do not have as many taps as in North America. In an earth return system the earth carries all the return current. This approach has been demonstrated in a prototype project. an isolated neutral grounded at only the substation. 5-Wire Feeders The 5-wire design is a new approach developed as an attempt to reduce stray voltage and magnetic fields and to provide a detection mechanism for high impedance faults. which has 3 hot wires. Such a system combines the limited distance possible at 120 volts with acceptable voltage drop with the more expensive primary configuration. Transformers are connected between phase wires and the neutral. Lightning arresters are grounded to the multi-grounded ground wire. However.

it can continue to operate with a single phase faulted to ground. Secondary Feeder Grounding The typical residential service in North America is 120/240-volt single phase with the neutral point grounded. The reactor is tuned to cancel the line-to-ground capacitance. and in Canada by the Canadian Electric Code Part 1. a very common one being 120/208-volt 3-phase grounded wye. Other services are available to commercial and industrial customers. As an ungrounded system. The National Electrical Safety Code prescribes primary feeder grounding for the United States. and sometimes a delta service with the midpoint of one side of the delta grounded. European systems sometimes use a 3-wire resonant grounded system where the substation transformer is wye connected. forming essentially an ungrounded system. with the neutral grounded through a reactor called a Peterson coil. This latter is called a “red leg delta” system. fault current is reduced to the point where transient faults clear themselves. Secondary feeders and building service entrances are covered by the National Electrical Code in the United States. In practice it has often been difficult to keep the Peterson coil properly tuned to the system capacitance. The National Electrical Code requires that service entrances be grounded to a metallic water pipe plus an additional 3-21 . By tuning out the capacitance.Overview of Power Systems Figure 3-8 Single Wire Earth Return Primary High-resistance or high-reactance grounding is rarely used on distribution circuits in North America. Delta service is occasionally found with a corner of the delta grounded.

3N harmonics (in other words. Transformer secondary neutrals are grounded. In contrast. If there is a primary neutral. leaving no neutral path current. Figure 3-9. The positive sequence currents sum to zero in a balanced 3-phase system. any negative sequence currents in the phase wires resulting from unbalance sum to zero. the waveform and harmonic current of neutral and ground currents can be quite different from those of phase currents because of the zero sequence effect. the zero sequence current returns entirely in the neutral path. With the increase in harmonic currents has come an increase in neutral wire currents and currents in ground leads and consequently in the earth. Other Considerations Related to Ground Currents An additional consideration regarding neutral and ground currents in three-phase systems results from current harmonics. Phase and Neutral Currents . primary and secondary neutrals are connected together. switching power supplies in computers and other electronic equipment.0% Harmonics 1. electronic fluorescent lamp ballasts. harmonic currents have been increasing. 3 times any integer times power frequency. The impact of this is to make a number of additional locations where the power system is connected to earth and consequently where current can enter the earth. With the proliferation of electronic devices such as adjustable speed motor drives. Likewise.5 -1 -1. and similar items.5 0 -0. leaving no current to flow in the neutral path. Figure 3-10.5 0 100 200 300 400 A Phase B Phase C Phase Neutral Figure 3-9 Positive Sequence Currents Sum to Zero in a Balanced 3-Phase System 3-22 . As a result.5 1 0.Overview of Power Systems ground such as a driven rod. 180 Hz for example) are zero sequence harmonics whose current returns in the neutral path.

as described in Chapter 2. multi-grounded primary feeders and grounded secondaries have important safety advantages that drive their use. when part of the current returns in the earth. or falls on an asphalt road surface. Therefore. Because some of this energy can couple into the track circuit conductively. If a phase wire contacts a tree branch. but remains to be proved in practice.5 0 100 200 300 400 A Phase B Phase C Phase Neutral Figure 3-10 Zero Sequence Harmonic Current Returns in the Neutral Path Another source of occasional ground currents results from high impedance faults on overhead distribution feeders.5 0 -0.3% Harmonics 1. 3-23 . For this reason the current density in the earth from neutral return current is usually at its highest near the distribution substation.5 1 0. and provides another possible point of ingress of current into the earth. Such a condition can persist for some time before detection and repair. ac interference in the track may peak near adjacent substations. However. the current loop is enlarged. as compared to when all of the current returns in wires on the poles.5 -1 -1. and thus below the level needed to operate the feeder protection. distribution feeder designs that minimize current in the earth reduce possible interference effects. Impact on EMC Current in the earth affects nearby railroad facilities in two ways. Current in the earth conductively couples to the railroad facilities’ grounds. the fault current may be less than normal load current. Also. among other conditions. The 5-wire design is an attempt to have the best of both worlds.Overview of Power Systems Phase and Neutral Currents . Substations Near Railroad Tracks Distribution neutral current returns to the transformer that is its source. thus increasing magnetic field strengths and consequent magnetic field induction.

Overview of Power Systems Underground Distribution Lines Underground distribution lines are constructed of solid dielectric cables. It is increasingly common to see combination overhead and underground feeders where a portion of the feeder is overhead and a portion is underground. Spot networks are often used for industrial and commercial loads. the same general layout as with overhead feeders. A fault that takes out a cable takes out the feeder. Figure 3-11 Pad Mounted Transformers The most common underground feeder configuration is the radial feeder. Pole mounted potheads make the transition straightforward. As with overhead construction. the network system has often been used. A network system is fed from several sources through several transformers with an interconnected mesh of secondary connections such that the loss of any circuit element would allow all the customers to continue to be served. Such a feeder has a single source point. While complex and expensive. 3-24 . thus combining the characteristics of both in one feeder. either direct buried or in pipes or duct banks. as in city centers. Where high reliability is required. except for the area between an intermediate coordinated fuse and the substation. there are threephase primary feeders with many branches. and branches out to supply the loads. Pad mounted switches and transformers may be utilized. Each phase has a central core phase conductor and a concentric neutral conductor operated in a multi-grounded fashion. the network system has found wide use in urban areas. including single-phase taps.

While this practice can allow primary neutral current to flow into the secondary customer neutral wire.Overview of Power Systems Figure 3-12 Pole Mounted Potheads for Overhead/Underground Transitions Underground feeders are less subject to damage from weather than overhead feeders. Residences in North America are usually supplied 120/240 volts single phase. In addition. Many commercial customers take service at 120/208 volts three-phase. usually to a water pipe plus an additional ground rod. Because of the low voltage employed by residential and many other customers. Secondary Distribution Secondary distribution concerns the low voltage connections provided to the great majority of customers. for example because of a downed primary wire falling across a secondary wire. Lightning arresters are still required. Secondary grounding practices in the United States are specified in the National Electrical Code (NEC) for reasons of fire protection and human safety that go back 100 years. Dig-ins and similar occurrences damage cables. Some large industrial and commercial customers are directly connected to the primary feeder and are said to take primary service. except possibly in network systems. Locating the resulting fault can be a challenge. secondary connections are generally short. the primary and secondary neutrals are to be bonded together in most cases. The code requires that customers’ service entrances be grounded. Other voltages are sometimes employed. 3-25 . but damage from lightning is still possible. it also limits the voltage rise that can occur if the primary and secondary phase wires accidentally become interconnected. Bonding the primary and secondary neutrals has advantages and disadvantages. for example 480 volt three-phase commercial customers. at the transformer.

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specializing in wayside devices. and governmental agencies. 4-1 . Areas of special interest include track circuits. including in-house and field research into ac power interference problems. switch machines. followed by more than twelve years at Safetran Systems’ Electronic Division in California. and the resolution of specific customer application problems with crossing warning systems. He has since worked as a signal engineer for General Railway Signal and Union Switch & Signal throughout the past 25 years. He is a member of IEEE and AREMA. Mr. Mr. Guidance Design Group for six years. Feely attended the University of Pittsburgh and Penn Technical Institute. While at Safetran he worked in the Technical Support Department on a variety of projects. as a signal maintainer on the subway-elevated lines of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. PA. manufacture. with concentration on the issues relevant for electromagnetic compatibility. Bennett R.4 OVERVIEW OF RAILROAD SIGNAL CIRCUITS This chapter provides a comprehensive explanation of railroad signal systems. relays and light signals. beginning in Philadelphia. the design of train-motion simulator systems for motion sensors and crossing predictors.F. Michael R. circuits and systems. Feely has been engaged in the railway signaling profession throughout his career. and worked for General Dynamics’ R.. Through his work and studies he has gained detailed insight and expertise in technical and commercial matters pertaining to the design. Inc. the development and delivery of customer training programs including portable track simulators. He is married to a woman who actually understands why he takes pictures of power lines and railroad crossings while on vacation. electric utilities. installation and maintenance of railway signaling equipment. Feely’s broad range of experience also includes participation in important projects such as NYCT’s Canarsie CBTC project and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Improvement project. an investigation into poor shunting with the Association of American Railroads. and now does independent consulting work for Timerider Technologies. He holds several patents in the field of railway signaling. House earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. with a diverse base of customers including railroads.

the first indication of an ac interference problem will usually come from the Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors used to control the warning devices at grade crossings. bells) 6. dc track circuits. Otherwise. the chapter may be used as a compendium of railroad signaling history and background information from which the reader will be able to draw some insight into related or similar railroad signaling equipment. etc. systems designed to detect specific hazards to railroad operations (e. Quick-Start Version The current state of modern railroad signaling is the evolutionary result of decades of history. etc. line-wire circuits. particular attention should be paid to these systems. because there is a great deal of older signaling equipment still in use. systems designed to measure a train’s position or motion with respect to a fixed point (e. switch machines. crossing flashers. systems designed to provide safety-critical information to trains or motorists (e. slide fences. the detailed version of this chapter may serve as reference material on that equipment. Once the specific equipment suffering from an apparent case of ac interference is identified. Yet the historic elements remain relevant.g. Crossing Predictors) 4.) 2. etc. coded track circuits.) 5. systems designed to communicate information (such as a train’s location) along a railroad line (e. systems designed to physically reconfigure the railroad tracks to construct a particular route of travel for a train (e.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Introduction This chapter is designed to provide the reader with a little of the needed familiarity with railroad signaling equipment. Therefore. crossing gates. The most common types of railroad signaling equipment usually fall into one (or more) of the following categories: 1.g. systems designed to detect the presence of a train within an area defined by a track circuit “transmitter”. 4-2 .g.g. switch locks. They are often the most sensitive detectors of unwanted ac electrical energy on railroad tracks. dragging equipment detectors. Motion Sensors. wayside signals. cab signals. AFO track circuits. and a track circuit “receiver” (e. radio communications) 3.) Although most of the types of equipment listed above can suffer from ac interference due to nearby ac power transmission and distribution systems.g. and some can even help create it.g. This “legacy” equipment also serves as a springboard for the development of new ideas. switch heaters.

and hence its profitability. unwanted ac energy can get onto railroad tracks by magnetic induction. and frequencies used on the railroad (think signalto-noise ratio). A real or expected increase in train traffic is often the motivation for railroads to install signal systems. the most important questions to keep in mind in this context are: 1. This ac energy can prevent signaling equipment from working properly by either preventing the proper transmission or reception of the signaling currents. a signal system must be maintained in good working order. high-speed digital communications. While the primary purpose of early signaling systems was improved safety. 4-3 . or by permanently damaging the signaling equipment. But once installed. How can the normal performance of this specific signaling function be restored in the presence of unwanted ac voltages or currents? 6. Detailed Version Railroad Signaling Circuits – Introduction Railroad signaling is the branch of Electrical Engineering concerned with the electric and electronic systems designed to promote the safe and efficient movement of trains. voltages. and now includes radios. unless the proper paperwork has been filed with.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Having an understanding of the specific use of a piece of railroad signal equipment. How can the presence of unwanted ac power-line-related voltages or currents affect or impair the normal operation of this equipment? 4. is key to understanding its susceptibility to ac interference. What specific function does the affected piece of railroad signal equipment perform? 2. it was quickly recognized that signaling technology could also substantially improve a railroad’s productivity. or ordinary conduction (via both intentional and unintended paths). When coming to grips with any unfamiliar piece of railroad signal equipment. Although historically focused on equipment using “Track Circuits”. How does it perform this function? 3. and approved by. this field continues to expand. In general. How susceptible to ac interference is the affected piece of railroad signal equipment? 5. and finding the answers to the questions above. What alternative technologies or equipment types could be used to avoid this problem? Identifying the functions and operating characteristics of a piece of railroad signaling equipment. are the essential foundations upon which an investigation and resolution of ac interference problems must be based. and remain essentially unchanged. and modern computing technologies. Railroad signal systems are required in the United States by the rules of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for some railroad operations. the FRA. and how it performs this function. and are an economic necessity on many heavily traveled lines. electric induction.

As such. as there is a great deal of older signal equipment still in use. and other components that have been in continuous service for more than fifty years. electromechanical. and the longevity of the electrical. a track circuit consists of: 1. railroad tracks are often viewed as purely mechanical components. Due to the rapid pace of advances made in railroad signaling over the past several decades. In this section. However. a means of detecting the presence of electrical energy. we will begin by discussing the various mechanical parts of railroad tracks and railroad cars that are used by the signaling circuits to detect the location or presence of a train. the rails of the track have also been the most essential electrical components of railroad signaling. current railroad signal systems frequently have brand-new microprocessor-based equipment working side-by-side with relays. Railroad Track – Part of the Track Circuit Unlike most other surface vehicles. such as a battery. many components of these track circuits are hidden away in the equipment enclosures located along the railroad right-of-way. but has been continuously changing and improving since the earliest beginnings of railroad signaling in the 1870s. in which the signal system takes appropriate action to protect the safety of trains and the public. a source of electrical energy. 2. the rails of the track became part of an electrical circuit known as a “track circuit”. Track circuits of one type or another can be found on almost any railroad in North America. it is the track itself that steers the train. The engineer has control of the train’s throttle and brake. wires. There is also a brief summary discussion of signal equipment EMC issues at the end of the chapter. 4-4 . Thus. this narrows the field by very little. roller coasters. Where appropriate. Although the authors have tried to restrict this chapter to only those signaling systems that are currently in use. the fail-safe nature of the equipment assures that the vast majority of failures will be so-called “right-side” failures. The most novel part of Robinson’s patent was that it used the electrical transmission characteristics of the track itself to detect the presence of a train. At its most basic. trains are not steered by their operator or pilot. as well as a few systems used elsewhere. This basic principle has been a fundamental part of railroad signaling practice for the past 130 years in North America. The hazards arising from EMC issues are especially worrisome to the signal maintainer. such as the coil of a relay. but cannot control its direction of travel beyond the selection of forward or reverse. we will discuss the Electro-Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) issues associated with each type of equipment as it is introduced. As with monorails.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The technology of railway signaling is well established. and industrial conveyor systems. But since the time of Robinson’s track circuit patent in 1872. An electrical current was transmitted down the track using both rails. and electronic devices used. because the cause and effect relationship is often transient and thus difficult to observe and analyze. This will be followed by a review of most of the various types of railroad signaling equipment currently in use in North America. Fortunately.

tie plates. the wheels and axles of railroad locomotives and cars. the contacts of a relay). the rails of the railroad track). rail joints. In railroad signaling. bondwires.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits 3. Railroad Rails and Ties – Mechanical and Electrical Properties Figure 4-1 Picture of Railroad Tracks 4-5 . piece-by-piece.e. 4. an output which provides information about the presence or location of a train to other parts of the railroad signaling system (e. We will begin our explanation of track circuits by building up a track circuit. a medium through which to transmit the electrical energy from the source to the detector . starting with its most basic mechanical components. gauge-rods.in such a way that the energy will be noticeably changed by the presence or location of a train (i. gauge-plates.g. the medium that provides a means of transmitting the energy from the source to the detector consists primarily of the rails of the track. railroad ties. but also includes the dirt and rocks under the tracks. and many other seemingly “mechanical” components. somehow they often get missed in a first introduction to signal systems. Even though these parts are physically large.

1 to 0... Rail steel has a high tensile strength (roughly 120. without recognizing their individual components. But industry-standard profiles are by far the most common ones found on railroads in North America today. The rail steel may also contain small amounts of Nickel.s.000 p.5% Silicon. were formerly maintained by AREA.. 4-6 . this basic formula is always evolving. for some new rail steels1). and 136 being among the most commonly used today. The standards for these profiles or “sections”. equals 1 k. Most of the railroad rails currently in use are of approximately this composition.. and 140 lb. which merged with several other railroad industry organizations on October 1st. the American Railway Engineering and Maintenanceof-way Association. even though they may appear to have only a mechanical purpose at first glance.70% to 1.i. Molybdenum.. The undesired elements Phosphorus and Sulfur are held to maximums of 0. the first two things we notice are usually the rails and the ties.i. If we stop to take a detailed look at railroad tracks. using the approximate weight (in pounds) of a three-foot (1 yard) length of rail made in accordance with the dimensions specified for that particular rail section. This has happened throughout the history of railroading.037%. as railroads have searched for more durable rails to carry the everincreasing axle weights of their trains.s. Rail steel is usually rolled into rails having an industry-standard cross-section or profile. 136 lb. as they are called. with 115. 1997 to form AREMA. and rail manufacturers continuously improving and modifying it.provided they are willing to pay for it.i. 132 lb..s. 133. Chromium. Next we may see the railroad spikes or screws attaching the two. respectively. in order to reduce the life-cycle costs and improve the performance of the rails. there are many other track components that play important roles in railroad signaling. and contains roughly 0.000 p.035% and 0. researchers. First.67% to 0. and 0.s. 119 lb. with railroads. 1 1.i. the American Railway Engineering Association. or Vanadium. 133 lb. to over 200. The standard AREMA rail sections are listed by weight. and is designed to handle the heavy impact and cyclic loading that railroad rails must withstand. consider the steel used for the rails. Modern railroad rails are made from very tough Manganese-alloy steel.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Railroad Tracks Railroad tracks are such a common part of our modern world that we often take them for granted. 0.25% Manganese. This alloy is slightly more than 97% Iron. However.000 p. However. although anyone can have a special rail of their own design made for them by any of the major rail manufacturers . Standard sizes include 115 lb. considerable work-hardening characteristics.80% Carbon.

the foot. It provides much of the flexural stiffness of the rail. the web is the thinner portion of the rail in-between the head and the foot. Figure 4-3 Thermite Weld in Rail 4-7 . which distributes the weight of the train over a much larger area. The foot is the broad base of the rail. which can withstand the intense pressures from the wheels of the train. The head consists of the thick upper portion of the rail. Obviously. Rail) The three major parts of a rail are the head.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-2 Typical AREMA Rail Section (133 lb. This is also the part that experiences most of the wear when in service. and the web.

and may provide a better weld. but requires the use of expensive equipment. Figure 4-4 Function and Designation of Rails Brace rails and check rails provide additional stiffness to the running rails. or one of several arc-welding processes. with flash and thermite welding being the primary processes used in the construction of new track. in that it can be performed in the field by a small crew (2-3 people) equipped with relatively inexpensive tools. However. 4-8 . with the pieces of rail spanning multiple cars. These long “ribbons” of rail are carried on specially built sets of rail cars.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Steel rails can be welded via thermite welding. All of these types of processes can be used in maintenance operations. flash welding. Minimizing the number of rail joints reduces the maintenance costs. and noise associated with jointed rail. and thus the number of welds that must be made in the field. and are mechanically attached to them. Thermite welding is economically attractive. but other rails may be added to provide additional safety of one type or another. This is usually done where the tracks pass through a tunnel.5 inches apart (North American standard gauge). or past some other potentially hazardous structure. Using such extended lengths of rail minimizes the number of rail joints needed. The two running rails (the ones the wheels roll on) are still spaced at the usual 56. some may have as may as six. Although most railroad tracks have only two rails. Flash welding is much faster. to allow for easy transport on a single railroad flat car. over a bridge. rails are increasingly being supplied in “continuous” lengths more than 500 feet long. poor ride quality. Rails were once cut into 39-foot or 80-foot lengths at the steel mill.

This is of particular concern in tunnels that curve. depending on the tensile or compressive forces present in that part of the train. In a worst-case scenario. A partially-derailed car could scrape along the walls of the tunnel. and were pulled by a steam-driven locomotive.when chariots and other horse-drawn wagons were constructed with a common axle width.and it is. 4-9 . With little steering to be done.or fully-derailed portions of a train could shift towards the inside or outside of the curve.5 inches. Eventually these trains acquired flanged steel wheels rolling on steel rails. Knowing that engineers have a habit of choosing nice round numbers for standards. this number may seem a bit unusual . This practice made good sense at a time when muddy dirt roads were the norm.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-5 Guard Rails Minimize Damage Caused by Derailed Wheels Guard rails are intended to help guide a derailed wheel which is rolling in-between the running rails. The running surfaces of the guard rail are not used. The standard rail gauge for North America is 56.extending for a hundred feet or so on either side of the bridge. But the width (gauge) of the axles and tracks remained essentially unchanged. This gauge size may have deep historical roots reaching back to the time of the Romans . these guard rails could prevent a partially-derailed railroad car from destroying the supports of the highway bridge. The consistent axle width allowed the wheels of each cart or wagon to follow easily in the tracks of the one ahead of it. It is also not uncommon to see a pair of guard rails installed in tracks which pass under a highway bridge . “trains” of wagons were assembled by connecting the reins of each animal or team to the rear of the wagon ahead of them. This is the nominal distance between the inside surfaces of the heads of the rails (known as the “gauge faces”). which could lead to a more serious accident. and the roads were often deeply rutted. This helps avoid damage by keeping a derailed car of a moving train from straying too far from the centerline of the track. with the guard rail merely acting as a “fence” to limit the amount of lateral displacement of the wheel/axle. where partially. with potentially disastrous results.

Figure 4-6 Pictures of Railroad Ties. in order to provide clearance between the “gauge faces” of the rails (the vertical sides of the rail heads which face the center of the track). but are finding increasing use on heavy freight lines. Although ties were once made almost exclusively of wood (oak in particular). gauge rods. plastic. depending on the “class” of track that is being constructed or maintained. Thirdly. cost. and other factors. and other mechanical track components. at least at the voltages and currents used in railroad signaling circuits. Reinforced cast-concrete ties are most commonly used by commuter railroads carrying passengers due to their uniformity and durability. they must do both of the above without creating an electrical connection between the two steel rails (a shunt or short-circuit). ties made of steel-reinforced concrete. Wood is usually an acceptable insulator. railroad tracks are usually constructed a small fraction of an inch wider than this. Each material has its own particular advantages and disadvantages with respect to load-carrying capability.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Even though the standard North American rail gauge is 56. This third requirement is what allows the track circuits to function properly. 4-10 . Second. tie plates. but steel ties and steel-reinforced concrete ties must be specially constructed or otherwise insulated so that there is no electrical connection between the rails. they must spread the weight of the train over a large enough area to prevent the track from being worked down into the earth with the passing of each axle. The clearances and tolerances allowed for this vary.5 inches. spikes. First. This is done to reduce the amount of noise and friction generated by the flanges of the wheels against the gauge faces of the rails. The easiest of these to see are the large wooden timbers known as ties (the British call them “sleepers”). steel. where their low-maintenance characteristics make them worth the additional cost. service life. Steel ties are most often used in specific locations such as bridges and tunnels. and the flanges of the wheels on the locomotives and cars. and even exotic woods like Azobe have become increasingly common. Wood and Concrete The purpose of the ties is basically threefold. gauge plates. they must hold the rails at a fixed distance apart. The rails are held “at gauge” by ties.

Due to their (Conductive) Steel Construction The rails do not rest directly on wooden ties.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-7 Bridges Pose Special Track Circuit Problems. and grip the foot of the rails to hold the rails “at gauge”. but instead rest on steel plates known as “tie plates”. and the Installed Assembly at the Foot of a Rail 4-11 . They also help to tilt the rails slightly inward. Figure 4-8 Close-Up Pictures of a Tie-Plate. These steel plates distribute the compressive load applied by the foot of the rail over a larger area of the tie. a Spike. and provide pre-spaced holes through which to drive the spikes.

Normally. It should be kept in mind that steel or concrete ties can fail in a shorted manner if they are defective in their manufacture. This usually occurs during the coldest winter temperatures. the effect of temperature on railroad rails is to change the amount of tension or compression within the rails themselves. Other methods use large screws or spring-steel clips to attach the rail to special tie plates. or clips hold the rails and ties together. 4-12 . the rails still have a limited ability to move along their length. the longitudinal tensile stresses on the rails can exceed the tensile strength of the rail steel. However. along with a rubber or plastic insulator placed between the rails and anything else that might cause a direct electrical connection (a short or shunt) from one rail to the other. as long as the overall track structure is intact. track spikes are still the most commonly used method of attaching rails to ties. This can be of particular concern where the rails are attached to the beams of steel bridges. Figure 4-9 Picture of a “Pigtail” Rail Clip and Insulating Pad on a Concrete Tie The spikes. but some back-and-forth creep with thermal expansion and contraction is unavoidable. and transverse to the track. generally do not have the capability of effectively shunting the track. the rails can shift their position slightly along the route that the track follows. It usually amounts to less than an inch at any given point. This differs significantly from wooden ties which. and result in a broken rail or “pull-apart”. both vertically. That is. Curves and other structures tend to limit this somewhat.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Although they are an old symbol of the railroads. In the case of concrete or steel ties. or special ties. although they can become more conductive when soaked or otherwise contaminated with conductive foreign materials. In extreme cases. screws. thus placing an electrical shunt across the railroad track. spring clips are used.

in the form of pressure from the foot of the rail. over a larger area. sand. ties. real-world ballast always provides some degree of electrical leakage from one rail to the other. To a mechanical or civil engineer. mud. railroad track is a pair of flexible beams that serve to support and guide a train. 4-13 . Any discontinuity in the track’s vertical section modulus (the amount of vertical deflection when under a load) will result in a soft or hard spot in the track. many types of rock easily satisfy this requirement. The ties also serve to hold the rails in an upright position. road salt. Therefore they are often looking for the cheapest mechanically-suitable material they can get. Ballast Supporting this varied assembly of rails. railroads use an enormous quantity of crushed rock ballast. However. ties. These discontinuities result in increased dynamic loading of the track structure. clips. insulators. rain. organic solids. spikes. this kind of problem usually happens during very warm weather. the rail may even break when this happens. environmental contaminants. But the insulating properties of the ballast rock are always tempered by the presence of other more-conductive substances. dirt. especially when dry. and ballast. Uniformity is the key to safe and economical track. Even though railroad tracks are constructed with the intent of preventing an unintentional electrical connection between the rails. the strength of the spikes. and often the most overlooked.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits If the rail is under compression. tie-plates. And the ballast (the rocks underneath the ties) and sub-grade materials located around and below the ties can be viewed as elastic media with varying and sometimes unpredictable compressive and shear strengths. Higher train speeds and heavier axle loads greatly magnify the adverse effects of profile irregularities and poor track geometry. mechanical and electrical component of the track: the “ballast”. screws. and keep them separated by a uniform distance (the “gauge” of the track). Being comprised primarily of metallic oxides and silicates. and tie plates securing the rails may be exceeded. As would be expected. Sometimes this leads to bad choices. Good ballast rock has a very low amount of electrical leakage or conductance. which diminishes the useful life of the rail. The term “ballast” can refer specifically to the crushed rock upon which the ties are laid. and ties is the most humble. this term is also used generically to refer to the mix of rocks. rust. like using crushed foundry slag containing an excess of conductive solids. Not all foundry slag is bad however. causing the rail to break away from the ties and bow outwards. It all depends on the electrical conductivity of the material used. and assorted kinds of “goo” that make up the part of the earth’s surface that the tracks pass over. and some slag makes excellent ballast. Because of its mechanical properties in supporting the track. snow. grease. spilled loads. The railroad ties and associated components serve to spread the weight of the train. In some cases. and therefore a high electrical resistivity or resistance. resulting in a “sun kink”.

and isolate it from the rest of the railroad at both ends. as do the units of ballast resistance used by railroads. and then measured the resistance between the rails with the proper type of ohmmeter3.S. The most-widely used unit of measure for ballast resistance is Ohms per 1000 feet of track2. it is very important to distinguish between ballast resistivity. 2 The actual dimensions of track ballast resistivity are “Ohm·Kft”. If we were to take a 1000-foot section of track with no other equipment connected to it. for short. This misuse of units is simply a result of the oversimplification of ballast resistance to make it more understandable to new signal maintenance personnel (see example above). as it would result in increasing rail-to-rail ballast resistances with increasing track length. and multiply the reading in Ohms by the length of the section of track as measured in Kft. The meaning of ballast resistance is best illustrated by an example. Instead of Crushed Rock The resistance of railroad track ballast can be measured by a variety of similar techniques. an ohmmeter using an ac signal source must be used for accurate measurements. even though you will most often hear this described as “Ohms per Kft” or “Ohms per 1000 feet” on most railroads.&S Inc. Thus the expression “Ohms/1000 feet” is incorrect. or Ohm·Kft. As either number may be used by personnel doing studies of the impact of a proposed ac power line on a nearby railroad line. 3 4-14 . and ballast resistance.) Here we see Rails Resting on Concrete Ties that are Themselves Set in Concrete.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-10 Modern Track Construction Techniques can Provide Very High Ballast Resistance. A 2000-foot section of track built on identical ballast would have a rail-to-rail resistance of only 2 Ohms. the ohmmeter would indicate the ballast resistance in Ohms for 1000’ of track. A 1000-foot section of track built on ballast with a resistance of “4 Ohms per 1000” would have a resistance of 4 Ohms from rail to rail. like those seen in the testing of ground rods. attention must always be paid to the units (dimensionality in use). To make this same measurement on an isolated section of track of any arbitrary length. In track circuit simulations. But in each case the concept remains the same. the correct dimensions for this are actually Ohm·Kilofeet. we would simply multiply the reading on our special ohmmeter. when in fact the exact opposite is true. Due to electrochemical polarization effects. However. This is the ballast resistivity in Ohm·Kft. (U.

Where used. or can help the ballast rock retain water. The poorer (lower) the ballast resistance. This can help to avoid the nuisance activation of Crossing Predictors. to over 100 Ohm·Kft. These may include: • • • • Road Salt (Particularly at Grade Crossings) Sand and other inorganic “fines” Spilled bulk chemical loads such as coal. from less than 0. However. ballast resistance still accounts for the majority of the loss. Contaminants in Ballast Although ballast materials themselves are chosen for their mechanical and electrical properties. The attenuation of most ac voltages transmitted through railroad tracks (and their associated ballast) can be very high. In general. industrial chemicals. The salting of roads in the winter also plays a significant role in contributing conductive materials to the ballast at a grade crossing. ballast resistivity can vary greatly. It should be recognized that ballast resistance is an average measurement. due to the added effect of the inductive impedance of the tracks. or fertilizers Spilled grain. the shorter most track circuits must be. Some very long ac track circuits operate with as much as 70 dB of attenuation between the transmit and receive ends of the circuit. and have increased the minimum ballast resistance. can affect the electrical characteristics of the ballast. in order to allow for the use of track circuits of reasonable length. Ballast resistance (leakage conductance) accounts for most of the loss in signal strength when transmitting an electrical signal via railroad tracks.25 Ohm·Kft of track.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits In the real world.0 Ohm·Kft or higher will generally improve the operation and reliability of most track circuits. maintain their tracks to even higher standards of resistivity. Some railroads. due to the shunting action of the ballast. which shunts some of the current applied to the track by the track circuit’s transmitter. and there will always be places along a track circuit that will be significantly above or below this average. processed agricultural products such as soybean meal. which can become mixed with the ballast over time. particularly at lower railroad signaling frequencies from zero to a few hundreds of Hertz (Hz). which can become more susceptible to the effects of ac interference from power lines under conditions of low ballast resistivity. Many of these ballast contaminants are long lasting. these can both be affected by the presence of other materials. and have been beneficial to track circuit performance. 4-15 . The most common place for an isolated section of low ballast resistance to occur is at grade crossings. and have deep historical roots. Automated processes for maintaining the ballast have helped improve the uniformity of the ballast. or cattle feed Anything that is inherently conductive. with a thorough understanding of the effects of ballast resistivity. or that can form a conductive solution in water. concrete ties have also generally raised ballast resistances. A ballast resistance of 4. most railroad track ballast is maintained at 2 Ohms/1000’ or higher. This is due to the restricted drainage present at most grade crossings. and is highly preferable.

the familiar sound of a passing train was produced primarily by the rhythmic “clickety-clack” of the train’s wheels rolling over the small gaps between the ends of the individual pieces of rail at each rail joint. This is not a transmission line in the sense of a high-voltage line used to transmit power. The electrical characteristics of railroad track are what make all of the different types of track circuits used for railroad signaling possible. it has not completely eliminated them.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The substitution of mechanical refrigerator cars for ice-cooled “reefers” in the early to middle 1960s eliminated the longstanding plague of salt-brine drippings in switching yards and rail terminals. Specifically. 4-16 . Keeping all of these bolted rail joints in good condition despite the passage of trains and temperature fluctuations was a significant track maintenance chore. There are basically two types of rail joints: insulated rail joints (called “insulated joints” or just “I. Figure 4-11 Ordinary and Insulated Rail Joints From the earliest days of railroading.J. And the retirement of large stoker-fired steam locomotives has reduced the presence of other conductive materials in the ballast. we will look at railroad track as an electrical transmission line. Although the ever-increasing use of continuous welded rail has greatly reduced the number of rail joints used on railroad tracks. but as an electrical conductor. Railroad Track as an Electrical Transmission Line In this section. we will begin discussing the characteristics of railroad track. such as carbon and ash. as they provided room for movement as each piece of rail expanded and contracted with temperature. These gaps were both necessary and unavoidable. but a transmission line in the sense used by radio and communications engineers. This conductive solution can produce extremely low ballast resistances. Both types of joints mechanically connect the ends of two pieces of rail together. But blackish deposits in the ground. but insulated joints do so while electrically insulating the two rails from one another. thought to be locomotive firebox coals and ashes.’s” for short). can still be found just below the surface at locations along older railroad lines. and un-insulated or ordinary rail joints (simply called “rail joints”). not as a mechanical component of a transportation system. which were sometimes discarded along the tracks.

Another way of attaching a bondwire or rail connection is the welded connection. from one piece of rail to the next. a consistent low-impedance flexible connection known as a “bond wire” is attached between the ends of the rails joined by a rail joint. Bondwires In order to work reliably. as well as some degree of electrical connection (generally poor and variable). with the joint bars bolted to each rail end with two or more large bolts on each side of the joint. welded connections for bondwires and track wires are often more reliable than mechanical rail connectors. mechanical rail connectors come in several different varieties. Often referred to generically as Cadweld® (Cadweld® is a registered trademark of Erico International Corporation). These bolts pass through holes drilled or punched in the joint bars. as well as the holes drilled in the webs of the rails to be joined. They also have a means of connecting a wire (roughly #6 AWG or larger) to the pin using a crimped connection of some type. Some signal equipment manufacturers strongly recommend their use with their signal equipment. Figure 4-12 Welded Bondwires and Mechanically-Attached Bondwires Sometimes called “chickenheads” or “chicken-necks”. The joints are constructed using a strong steel joint bar on either side of the rails to be joined. most of which have a tapered portion which is driven into a cylindrical hole drilled through the web or into the head of the rail. signal circuits that use the rails as electrical conductors require that the rails within each circuit be connected together electrically in a low-resistance and reliable fashion. These can also used to attach the wires of the track circuits to the rail. 4-17 . As a permanent connection to the rail.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Bolted rail joints provide a mechanical connection. and can vary widely as the pieces of the joint shift their positions relative to one another over time under the influences of temperature and passing trains. Because the impedance of the electrical connection at an ordinary rail joint is much higher than optimum for track circuits. this form of bondwire connection welds a short “pigtail” wire directly to the head or web of the rail using aluminothermy and a clamped-on mold.

as well as its propensity to rust. This means performing a physical and visual examination of every single bondwire within the affected track circuit.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Any type or style of electrical connection to the rails would be suitable. The limited conductivity of the iron. bondwires were made of iron. it is usually due to gross mechanical damage or corrosion. In the early days of railroading. there may literally be hundreds of welded connections within a track circuit. Examples of several of these are shown below. This is sometimes called “walking the bonds”. experienced signal maintainers know to check their bondwires first. “railhead bonds” (both welded and pin-type). 4-18 . and were mechanically attached to the web of the rail with a “channel pin”. Over time. Fortunately these are easy to find and fix. frequently contributed to high resistance connections. When they do fail. By pulling on each bondwire with an improvised tool. These pins held the bond wire in a groove in their side. the cause is found to be a broken bondwire damaged by vandals. which collapsed and held the wire tightly when the pin was driven into a hole in the web of the rail. and some are welded to the rails. one or more of them will eventually fail. Some of them are mechanically attached to the rails and coated with a protective layer of anti-oxidation grease. which connect the adjacent ends of two rails together at a rail joint. as long as it provides a consistent low-resistance connection from the wire to the rail. But some simply work themselves loose from the rail due to improper installation and the normal flexing of the rails as each axle of the train passes by. some of which can mimic the symptoms of ac interference. More difficult is the case of a corroded bondwire that has lost most of its strands to corrosion inside of one of its crimped or welded ends. given enough years of service. and highcurrent bonds. Today’s welded rails and welded copper bond wires can almost eliminate the effects of bond wire resistance from track circuit calculations and considerations. All too often. This is why the inspection is both visual and mechanical. The high resistance created by a corroded or otherwise damaged bondwire can be very difficult to find. as well as a host of other problems. the maintainer tests the mechanical integrity of each connection. When the behavior of a track circuit constructed using jointed rail and bondwires becomes erratic or unreliable. Bad bondwires can also lead to a loss of broken rail detection capability in the vicinity of rail joints. constructed of a length of locally-available recyclable material (commonly known as a stick). Bond wires still come in several styles. including “long bonds”. High-resistance bondwires can create many different problems. In the case of bondwires.

and High-Current Bonds 4-19 .Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-13 Jointed Rails with Railhead Cadweld Bonds. Long Bonds.

03 Ohms per 1000’ of (single) rail is often used. standard gauge railroad tracks have a calculated characteristic impedance that is roughly four times as high (1200 Ohms).06 Ohms.03 Ohms per 1000’ of rail. This is a maximum resistance value. the massive cross-sectional area of each steel rail gives it a resistance roughly equal to two #4/0 AWG (pronounced: “four-ought”) conductors in parallel. Even though the -5 4 electrical resistivity of the rail steel is approximately 7. Other values may differ from this by a few orders of magnitude. i. the railroad rails themselves are generally good conductors of electricity.e.K. but a value of 0.0 x 10 Ohm-centimeters .Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Rails Regardless of what size rails are used. They actually just measure the magnitude and phase of the impedance of a length of track with a shunt from rail-to-rail at a point some distance away from the point of measurement. Many Electrical Engineers have wrongly assumed that Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors operate on the principle of Electrical Time-Domain Reflectometry. Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors. 6 area . This works out to roughly 0. For example. with track circuits also detecting all shunts that are lower in resistance than this. or how they have been electrically bonded together to form continuous conductors. In the United States. the FRA even specifies the required minimum sensitivity of all track circuits used in rules 234. it can still be a good one if the conductor is large enough in cross-sectional 5. an even wider range of resistances per unit length of rail is created. This is unsurprising. given their large cross-section. due to the large differences in size and other physical factors. Even though the dc resistance of railroad rail is quite low. the characteristic impedance of the track is rarely of concern for most track circuits.” rail is just over 13 square inches. However. and Australia. or in what form they have been supplied. This equates to about 16. Some have approximated this impedance as roughly one Ohm per Kilometer of rail at 60 Hz. railroad track can be viewed as a lossy but workable communication transmission line. requiring the track circuits to be able to detect the presence of a shunt placed across the track. This is the characteristic measured by the most commonly affected railroad signal circuits. For most calculations. but this figure varies somewhat in the available literature. When combined with the various rail sizes (weight per yard) used. the resistance of the rails has an insignificant effect on the results. not unlike the old 300-Ohm “twin-lead” antenna wire once used to connect antennas to television sets. It is for this reason that ac track circuits often use the lower audio frequencies (below 1 KHz). of 0.72 x 10 Ohm-cm). 4 It should be noted that the values given in the literature for the resistivity of rail steel vary widely. The Shunting Action of a Train’s Axles The idea that the solid steel axles and wheels of the train provide nearly a “dead short” from one rail to the other is presently the basis of almost all train detection and railroad signaling in North America and parts of the U. it still exhibits significant impedance to an alternating current. the cross-sectional area of an AREMA standard “133 lb.6 million circular mils.229 and 236. for the railroad EMC specialist. or some other sophisticated method. However.56. So although high-manganese rail steel might not be an electrical engineer’s first choice of materials for an electrical conductor. Electrically speaking. or roughly -6 41 times the resistivity of copper (1. 5 6 4-20 . What is of concern for track circuits is how the electrical characteristics of the transmission line (the railroad track) change when a short or shunt is placed across it.

When the insertion loss of the shunt drops the signal level at the receiver below a certain threshold. the track circuit then declares that section or “block” of track to be “occupied”. and prevents it from reaching the receiver. This modulation is often necessary in order to make sure that the receiver will only respond to electrical signals from the correct transmitter. the carrier may be modulated using any combination of amplitude. or current level7. Furthermore.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Many track circuits perform train detection by transmitting an electrical signal from one end of an independent section of track. frequency. and monitoring the strength of the received signal at the opposite end. or phase modulation. 4-21 . voltage. Figure 4-14 Unoccupied Track Placing a shunt across the track anywhere between the transmitter and receiver effectively “shorts out” the signal from the transmitter. 7 Alternating or otherwise time-varying currents are used in all track circuits except simple dc track circuits. Electrical Engineers call this reduction in signal level “insertion loss”. This electrical signal is often essentially constant in power.

These are devices which detect trains at highway grade crossings. Although dc track circuits were developed first. Many of them are used for simple presence detection.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-15 Occupied Track This is indicated electrically by the position of the track relay’s armature (see figures above). and generally creates an inverse relationship between the length of the track circuit. The limited bandwidth of railroad track tends to discourage the use of higher frequencies. using either alternating or direct current at as much as a few amps. Most track circuits operate with a rail-to-rail voltage of 3 volts or less. The higher rail-to-rail voltages used by these track circuits can effectively “punch through” the film on the rail. since that time there have been a number of different types of track circuits that use ac electrical signals to detect the presence of a train. Simply stated. just as dc track circuits are. or even a pedestrian walkway. Other ac track circuits such as Motion Sensors and Predictors view the track somewhat differently.) present on the running surfaces of the rails. higher frequencies are generally used for shorter track circuits. spilled loads. where railroad tracks cross a highway. street. These track circuits normally use an ac signal that usually falls within the “audio” frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 KHz. and the highest useable operating frequency for the ac track circuit. although frequencies outside of this range have also been used. The most notable exceptions to this generalization are the high-energy track circuits used where there are insulating or semiconductive films (rust. etc. and lower frequencies are generally used for longer track circuits. but usually much less. and improve the ability of each axle to provide an effective shunt to the track circuit. road. 4-22 . These films can prevent the wheels of the trains from making adequate electrical contact with the rails.

When a transmission line made from two low-resistance parallel conductors is shorted (shunted) at one end. The magnitude of the impedance (primarily composed of inductive reactance) of this long narrow loop of rail is roughly 3 Ohms per KHz per 1000’ of track.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-16 Grade Crossing They have transmitters and receivers that are located very close together.47 microhenries being a good value to use for most calculations involving Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors which are operating at frequencies between 86 Hz and 970 Hz. and performing several calculations based on the ac voltage which results. the weight (section) of rail. depending slightly on the frequency used and other factors such as ballast resistance. Since the magnitude of the resulting ac voltage is proportional to the impedance of the loop. Shunted railroad track “loops” have been observed to have between 0. the magnetic permeability of the rail steel. These systems view the track as a shorted “transmission line”. to the shunt. etc. Since track circuit engineers deal with thousands of feet of track in each signal circuit. sometimes being connected to the rails within a few inches of each other.47 millihenries per 1000 feet of track. and 4-23 . and other factors.). The exact value of this inductance varies with the frequency. and as long as the distance from the receiver/transmitter at the crossing.57 microhenries of inductance per foot of track (varies with frequency. this is often thought of as 0. with 0. In the case of railroad tracks. whose physical length (distance from signal equipment to the short or shunt) can be measured. the physical composition of the ballast and ties. audio-frequency ac signal to the track. and all that remains is the inductance of the conductive “loop” that has been formed. our “loop” is 56-1/2” inches wide.43 and 1. the capacitance of the line effectively disappears. Motion Sensors and Predictors measure the impedance of the loop formed by the two rails of the track and the axle(s) of the approaching train by applying a constant-current.

4-24 . a “termination shunt” is connected across the track (from one rail to the other) at a location some distance away from the crossing. In the real world. it is often used in more than one way at the same time. the velocity of the train can also be calculated. but also to simultaneously check the physical integrity of the track itself. Train Position (unidirectional approach) 100 (% of unoccupied impedance) 80 60 40 20 0 100 80 60 40 20 0 Train Position (% of approach unoccupied) Figure 4-17 Impedance vs. but may simply consist of a very large capacitor (>100. the magnitude of this voltage can be used to determine the train’s position with respect to the Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor installed at the grade crossing.000 uF). we can see that railroad track can be used as a transmission line for carrying electrical signals from a transmitter to a distant receiver (simple occupancy determination). Idealized Impedance vs. Termination shunts are usually made from a series-resonant Inductor-Capacitor (L-C) combination. a single circuit can be used not only to detect the presence of a train. In this way. or a short length of heavy-gauge wire (≥ #6 AWG). By measuring the way that this voltage changes over time. Thus.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits the impedance is proportional to the distance from the receiver/transmitter to the train. Train Position In order to establish the outer limit(s) of the area within which the Motion Sensor or Predictor will look for approaching trains. Probably the most important aspect of railroad track circuits is that the track itself is used as part of the circuit. This also places an upper limit on the impedance of the track circuit used by the Motion Sensor or Predictor. or as a variable-inductance loop for measuring a train’s exact location and/or velocity relative to a grade crossing (crossing prediction or motion sensing).

insulated rail joints differ in one important respect. Even with just a single locomotive or railroad car on the railroad. then the track circuits could tell us which half of the railroad the locomotive was currently occupying. This would probably require a very small railroad. the track circuit would always appear occupied. 4-25 . If we scale this concept up to the size of even a small short-line railroad. the ability of a signal system (or train dispatcher) to determine the exact location of a train is limited by the number of track circuits used. Insulating materials are also applied between the joint bars and the rails themselves. and the track circuit would declare the block of track to be “occupied”. While they provide a solid mechanical connection between the two rails being held end-to-end. as indicated by the red signals. sooner or later we will run out of different frequencies to use. The received signal level would drop to nearly zero.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits For example. And the same thing would happen if an unintended short (false shunt) developed across the track between the transmitter and receiver. and get a fresh start in each separate section. the amount of current arriving at the receiver would drop to nearly zero. say. However. a bit more than 100 feet long. For example. Insulating sleeves known as “thimbles” are placed over the shafts of the bolts. These joints are similar to the usual rail joints. the number of track circuits needed for adequate resolution of a train’s position quickly grows into the dozens. And a large railroad will have thousands of track circuits along its routes. which use joint bars and bolts to mechanically connect the ends of two rails. But if we split the railroad into two separate track circuits. As trains normally are not permitted to enter an occupied block. and can be connected to the same tracks simultaneously. As most track circuits simply determine whether or not that section or “block” of track is occupied. each of which were large enough to completely contain the locomotive or railroad car. This sort of information isn’t very useful to a train dispatcher or anyone else. The only solution to this problem at present is to partition the tracks into electrically separate pieces. we could imagine a railroad constructed so that the entire railroad was contained within the boundaries of a single track circuit. there are many reasons for constructing track circuits of much shorter length. and a roughly 3/8" thick block of insulating material (usually phenolic) is placed between the ends of the rails (called an “end post”). Insulated Joints Although there is a maximum physical length for each different type of track circuit. insulated rail joints are used. In order to electrically divide the tracks of the North American railroad network into pieces of a manageable size. Often adhesives are used to complete the assembly. and unite it into a single mechanical unit known as a “bonded joint”. or perhaps both. the occurrence of either a short or an open in the track makes the system “fail safe”. turning the signal lights at each end of the block to red. they do not provide an electrical connection. which is determined by its design and the laws of physics and safety. Although there are track circuits that can operate at different ac frequencies to avoid interfering with one another. a very large track circuit. and the block would be declared “occupied”. if a rail were to crack and pull apart in cold weather.

normally within a few feet of one another. a length of rail (< 20 feet long) is sawn out of the existing track with an abrasive cutoff saw and removed. Figure 4-18 Typical Insulated Joint Installed in Rail. they are usually the responsibility of the railroad’s track department. Insulated joints are usually installed in pairs. Although insulated joints are an important electrical component of many track circuits.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Some types of insulated joints can be assembled in the field from their individual components. with one insulated joint in each rail of the track. In nearly all instances. This can create a significant delay in the correction of an ac interference problem caused by a failed insulated joint. and welded. or grade crossing warning systems. However. insulated joints are installed only where necessary. can play a key role in EMC problems on railroads. Insulated joints. they must receive the cooperation of the track department in order to get the joint(s) replaced. as a component of the track circuits used for block signaling. which adds significantly to the joint’s initial cost of purchase and installation. The insulated joint assembly is then installed in its place. Arranging for the replacement of an insulated joint can require additional time. For this reason and others. This means that when a signal department employee finds one or more failed (shorted) insulated joints. Rather than drill and prepare two rail ends in the field. 4-26 . insulated joints are increasingly being supplied in the form of a prefabricated insulated joint installed between two short (< 10 foot) lengths of rail. with Polyurethane-Encapsulated Joint Bars The design of an insulated joint represents a necessary engineering compromise between mechanical strength and insulating properties. interlockings. As such. railroads seek to minimize or eliminate the use of insulated joints whenever possible. Each insulated joint installed creates an additional maintenance expense. Its presence in the track structure creates a structural discontinuity that tends to impair both the strength and long-term physical stability of the track. they are still considered primarily as mechanical components of the track by most railroads. especially failed ones.

The strength and quality of Insulated Joints have improved since the widespread deployment of Continuous Welded Rail (C. but leaves the signal system only a single insulated joint failure away from its next case of trouble. The mating surfaces of the rails and joint bars are carefully prepared by sandblasting to ensure high bond strength.W. Dividing or isolating electric propulsion current return paths. caused by nearby ac power lines. the signal and track departments will work together just long enough to find and replace one of the two failed insulated joints. The older styles of conventional Insulated Joints. If there is a strong electromagnetic field at the rails. the various reasons for their application include: • • • • • • Electrical separation of adjoining track circuits. Insulated joints are simple in concept. and there is a clear indication of a problem (e. This has sometimes led to a stated or un-stated railroad policy of not dispatching track maintenance personnel to replace an insulated joint until the operation of the signal equipment has clearly been affected. The most successful solution to this problem to date has been the bonded insulated joint. In a worst-case maintenance scenario. Insulation of intersecting rails (as at a switch or diamond) to prevent the short-circuiting of a track circuit. When enough insulated joints have failed. Balancing unequal rail resistances and currents (used with impedance bonds in electric propulsion territory). dividing the track into physically shorter signal blocks (reduces the induced ac voltage). The problem with this approach to Insulated Joint maintenance is that it only takes a single shorted insulated joint to electrically imbalance the track.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The design of most track circuits allows them to withstand the failure of one or more of the insulated joints isolating the track circuit from the rest of the railroad trackage. 4-27 . i. lacked sufficient strength to resist the enormous longitudinal forces that can develop in continuous welded rails during rail temperature extremes.e. which began in the late 1960s. Electrically transposing the rails in order to maintain the desired polarity at the opposite end of the track circuit.R.). The bonded insulated joint is secured with both epoxy adhesive and bolts. The joint bars are electrically insulated from the rails by a fiberglass mesh that is impregnated with adhesive. to a degree sufficient to affect the track circuit.g. The bolts are carefully tightened to specified torques to avoid damage to this insulation. which can interfere with the operation of the railroad signal equipment. even when it isn’t). This is usually enough to return the signal system to “normal” operation. Mitigation of induced current in the rail. Although they are always used to provide a mechanical end-to-end connection of rails while providing electrical isolation. this imbalance can result in unusual rail-toground and rail-to-rail voltages on the track. but quite diverse in their reasons for use. one or more track circuits are indicating that the track is occupied. in order to provide a high shear strength between the rails and joint bars. the track department will be dispatched to work with the signal department to find and correct the problem.

Figure 4-20 Sectional View of Rail and Typical Encapsulated Insulated Joint (Portec Rail Products. with short pieces of rail on either side of the joint. 4-28 . The rails are then welded or (rarely) bolted to the bonded insulated joint assembly. and replacing it with the assembly. its higher cost limits its use to heavily used mainline trackage where the additional reliability is worth the additional cost. the Permali joint) have been widely used for many years.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-19 Cross-Section View of a Typical Bonded Insulated Joint (Portec Rail Products. Non-bonded insulated joints continue to be widely applied. The bonded insulated joint is installed by cutting out a length of rail equal to the length of the bonded insulated joint assembly. Inc.) Other types of insulated joints such as the laminated densified-wood insulated joints (e. Fiberglass and polyurethaneencapsulated insulated joints are the most common types used for new installations or renewal work. manufacturers have continued to develop even stronger and more durable insulated joints. Due to the still-excessive failure rate of most modern insulated joints in heavy freight territory. Because the bonded Insulated Joint cannot be repaired in the field.g. and can sometimes still be found on older rail lines.) The bonded joint assembly is delivered to the field as a pre-assembled unit. Inc.

as well as being allowed to go faster than is actually safe (green vs. and ignores the current following a leakage path through the surrounding ballast. no additional clarification of what constitutes an acceptable inspection is provided within sections 234. Instead. these are still subject to inaccuracies caused by the leakage paths mentioned above. prevent current from flowing between the rails separated by the insulation in an amount sufficient to cause a failure . 4-29 . instrumentation of this type is not commonly found on railroads. they require only that the insulated joints be maintained so as to “. Perhaps because of this design characteristic of railroad track circuits. and 236. . Railroad signal systems must be designed to ensure that 8 electrically failed Insulated Joints do not create the risk of a “false clear ” condition. relatively simple and foolproof. This includes being allowed to move when it is not safe to do so (green or yellow vs. electrically. However. This is due to the presence of electrical leakage paths through the ballast and around the insulation of the Insulated Joint.271 specifies that “Insulated rail joints. The advantage of this type of technique is that it only measures the current flowing through the insulated joint. . once installed in the track. the accurate measurement of Insulated Joint resistances.235. . 235. Surprisingly. This makes the testing of Insulated Joints. prior to their installation. or both. and generally will not interfere with the operation of the signal system. is much more difficult. These frequencies are above the range normally used by railroad signal equipment. the FRA rules do not require periodic testing of insulated joints. and track connections shall be inspected at least once every three months”. The reason for using such high test frequencies is twofold: • • The poor “high-frequency” transmission characteristics of the rail help to minimize the influence of ballast leakage paths on the measurement. and require careful interpretation of the data they provide.” of the track circuits (rules 234. Under ideal conditions. .Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Insulated Joint Failure Modes As is the case with other components of the signal system. and measure the resulting current (insulation resistance measurement). bond wires. red). The only requirement above and beyond this is found in the section of the FRA rule book devoted to Grade Crossing Signal System Safety.some of which involve the use of clamp-on ammeters installed directly around the insulated joint. 8 A false clear is a condition in which a train is given a signal indication which is more permissive than it should be. where rule 234. yellow). the electrical resistance of an insulated joint should be nearly infinite at ordinary signal system voltages. 2005). insulated joints may fail mechanically. or 236 of the rulebook (revised July 8. However.59). Although there are commercially available “Insulated Joint Testers” which apply an ac voltage of a frequency in the range of 3 to 60 KHz across the insulated joint. There are also other techniques for testing insulated joints installed in railroad tracks .

missing. it only means that the insulation they provide is now less than adequate (there is no upper limit on the insulation resistance of a “good” insulated joint). This is always a result of poor track maintenance. the battering effect of the wheels of passing trains can actually deform the heads of the rails enough to make them touch. • • • • • • Figure 4-21 Metallic Dust and Slivers Tend to Accumulate. This condition is often difficult to diagnose. Sometimes a track crew will mistakenly install an insulated joint so that the gap between the rails rests on top of a metal tie-plate. as it can be hidden behind the joint bars. Burrs and sharp edges from rail cutting or bolt-hole drilling.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits When insulated joints fail in the electrical sense. Permanent dielectric breakdown due to excessive voltages from lightning. or improperly installed components. missing. This in turn tends to attract ferromagnetic particles. The battering effect of railroad wheels rolling across the gap between the rails tends to magnetize the ends of the rails. Rail Batter. Joint run-together due to expansion and movement of rails. The most common causes of insulated joint failure are: • Accumulation of metallic dust or slivers across rail ends. In other cases. Loose. thus bridging the gap. or severely compressed. etc. Bridging Rails at Insulated Joint 4-30 . Over time. rail spikes have been installed so as to bridge the gap. Improper installation. This can happen when the insulating end-post between the rails is old.

The heating elements of these heaters are often deliberately grounded to the rails of the track. and other devices and systems. and velocity of trains. but these are still not track circuits. in order to detect the presence of railroad axles. In order to better understand the details of how track circuits work. A variety of track circuits can be used to provide a fail-safe means of determining the presence. flashing red lights. connected to the tracks.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Track Circuits Except for a few experimental and alternative techniques for detecting trains. a track circuit is an electrical circuit that performs one or more specific functions such as: • • • Detection of trains. or locomotives within the track circuit. and axles as some of its electrical conductors. but is still not a track circuit. These components are used in conjunction with a relay and a battery. involves the electric resistance heaters (called snow melters. but what many people fail to realize is that the tracks themselves are used as the primary return path. bells. a track circuit is simply a low-voltage dc electrical circuit. This track occupancy information is then used by the signaling systems at wayside signal locations. Yet propulsion current circuits are not considered track circuits. this definition isn’t narrow enough to be useful. but most of it returns via the rails. and surrounding structures. cars. or switch heaters) installed at track switches. These are used to keep the movable parts of the track at track switches from either freezing together. Another example of a circuit that is connected to the rails. and a return path. track. At its simplest. almost all train detection in North America is done via track circuits. or axles Detection of broken rails or “false” shunts Communication of signal control information between wayside locations 4-31 . length. Rails often form a part of grounding circuits intended to mitigate or equalize voltage potentials between the train. the trains used in many so-called “light rail” commuter systems are propelled by electric motors which obtain power from either an overhead “catenary” wire. wayside signals. wheels. Some of the current may return through the earth to the transformer at the propulsion substation(s) supplying the power to the train. which rely much more heavily on so-called “axle-counter” techniques (discussed below). which uses railroad mechanical components such as rails. the current supplied to the traction motors must have a source path. location. This contrasts sharply with European signal practices. What Is (and What Isn’t) a Track Circuit? The FRA defines the track circuit as: “A circuit of which the rails of the track form a part. or an energized “third rail”. For example. and some crossings to control the operation of switches.” Unfortunately. interlockings. Where railroad signaling systems are concerned. we will begin with the basics. gate arms. especially where electric traction systems are in use. In each case. or not moving correctly due to blockage by snow or ice. But these circuits are not track circuits either. cars. The source is obvious.

number 130.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits • • • • • Route locking of switches. 1872. a United States patent (see figure below). etc.661 was issued to William Robinson for an electrical track circuit. moveable bridges. Robinson’s Patent Today’s railway signaling technology could not have achieved its high degree of safety and reliability without one key invention: the track circuit. Communication of cab signal or ATC information from wayside-to-train Communication of non-vital train ID data from train-to-wayside Detection of a train’s presence and velocity at grade crossings “Distance-to-couple” measurements in switching yards. Figure 4-22 Robinson’s 1872 Track Circuit Patent 4-32 . On August 20.

the presence of a train is detected by the observed change in path characteristics when the train occupies the rails of the circuit. with the battery as the source.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits As with many inventors of his time. a relay. one to each rail. connected together via the rails of the track. through the rails. the Track 9 (both rails) or Rail (singular). 4-33 . The terminals of a primary battery were connected. We will refer to the normal operation of a track circuit in terms of the Transmitter. Although Robinson’s method of using this circuit to control a wayside signal may differ slightly from modern techniques. when there is no train present within the block). technical advancement was slow at first. Robinson’s track circuit consisted of a battery. such a track circuit could be viewed as fitting a Source-Path-Receptor model. Thus. Robinson’s work was based on trial-and-error. as shown below. Although track circuits were widely accepted. A basic dc track circuit consists of a Transmitter (the battery or other power source). rather than studious and organized scientific inquiry. this was still the humble beginning of all modern track circuits. At the opposite end.e. Figure 4-23 Basic DC Track Circuit When the current flows in an uninterrupted fashion from the battery. and the Receiver . the rails as the path. to the coil of the relay (i. while the track was unoccupied. at one end of the circuit. and the relay as the receptor. and did not make any further significant contributions to the field of railroad signaling prior to his death in 1921. with detailed mathematical analysis of track circuit parameters beginning in earnest in the 1920s. This action causes the relay’s armature and moveable contacts to make contact with one of two sets of fixed electrical contacts. the coil of a relay (track relay) was connected across the rails and received energy from the battery through both rails. 9 Conceptually. Robinson sold his interest in the track circuit to George Westinghouse in 1881. and a length of track that was isolated from the rest of the railroad by the use of insulated rail joints. and a Receiver (the relay). causing the relay’s armature to be attracted toward the relay coil. then the coil is energized. aided by good luck.

or axles occupying the track circuit. such as wayside signals. it will shunt (most of) the current coming from the battery. 10 The terms “front” and “back” are used to refer to the contacts of the relay which are touched by the armature contacts in the “energized” and “de-energized” positions. Here is an example of basic track circuit operation. Figure 4-24 Basic Track Circuit Schematic Most often. cars. or railroad car enters the track circuit. With almost no current energizing the coil of the relay. They can also be used as inputs to the vital logic of a complete signal system. called a signal “indication”. telling other trains not to enter. The armature contacts are referred to as the “heel” contacts. a green signal light at the entrance to the block could be lit via the “heel” and “front” contacts of the track relay10. to the crew of a train as to what train movements may safely be made. locomotive. When at least one axle of a train. Wayside signals are normally located along the side of the track. 4-34 . and will prevent it from reaching the coil of the relay at the other end of the track circuit.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The electrical circuits opened and closed by these relay contacts can then be used to control other signal equipment. Wayside signaling will be discussed in much greater detail. below. The important thing to remember is that it all starts with the track circuit. This would tell the crew of any train approaching that track circuit that there were no trains. the armature of the relay will move to its de-energized position. we think of track circuits as being what controls the “aspect” of the wayside signals. or grade crossing warning systems. The contacts closed in this position could then be used to light up a red signal light at the end of the block. respectively. cab signals. If no train is present within the track circuit. and are used to display a particular “aspect” which conveys information. as the track circuit was already occupied.

06 Ohms or less. which underlies this technique of train detection. anywhere within the physical boundaries of the track circuit. track circuits are adjusted so that the presence of a shunt of 0. and move the relay’s armature from its energized position. 11 The term “tread” is still used to refer to the smooth rolling surface of a railroad wheel. Since the wheels and axles of most railroad cars and locomotives are assembled by pressing two steel wheels onto a solid steel shaft using hundreds of tons of pressure. to its de-energized position. This can and does form an effective low-impedance path from one rail to the other. will always result in the coil of the track relay being de-energized. 4-35 . In practice. is that it only takes one axle to shunt enough current away from the coil of the relay. and will move the armature to its fully de-energized position. even though it has none of the raised features of the tread of a rubber tire.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-25 Occupied DC Track Circuit One assumption. provided that the tread of each wheel makes good electrical contact with the rail. the finished assembly actually does have a very low resistance or impedance from the tread11 of one wheel to the tread of the other.

Of course. Correct adjustment of the track circuit. Because of the less-than-infinite resistance of the track ballast (see Ballast. Figure 4-27 Track Circuit Showing Broken Rail 4-36 .56. and periodic rail and ballast maintenance are all key ingredients in track circuit reliability. Moreover. but there are practical limits to this. and often are. as the resistance of the ballast changes. above). in response to the ever-changing amount of moisture in it. the track circuit must be adjusted so that a normal but significant drop in ballast resistance will not falsely de-energize the track relay. the track circuit could be adjusted to respond to shunts of higher resistance. Safetran Systems Type ST Plug-In Rely (w/o cover) This is required by FRA rules 234. the track circuit must be adjusted so that the conductance of the ballast is not enough of a “shunt” to deenergize the track relay.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-26 Relay Armature and Coil. the use of good-quality ballast materials.229 and 236.

this decline in route mileage does not accurately reflect the state of the industry. Current trends suggest that both the number and physical length of track circuits will continue to increase in the future. it presently consists of about 170. In 1872.S. Years would pass.. loose connection. this was still science fiction. William Robinson had little reason to consider the effects of induced currents or other foreign currents on the performance of his track circuit. Perhaps the first hint of things to come was when the insulated joints separating two adjacent track circuits became defective. dead battery. Track circuits of some form will remain in use for many years to come. Although the U. New opportunities for improved track circuit performance and economics continue to appear. and peaked at 254.000 route miles. In Mr. Another common source of track circuit interference. This feature represents the genesis of the closed-circuit principle in railway signaling. Railroad History The history of railroad signaling in North America is necessarily intertwined with the history of the railroads themselves. The use of battery-powered direct-current track circuits eventually led to the development of track circuits using alternating currents. and the Tesla/Westinghouse ac system did not come into use until 1893. as railroads in the U.000 route miles in 1916. and microprocessors were applied to track circuits in 1981. But the technology of track circuits continues to evolve. which was not considered in the nineteenth century. before truly vital track relays and associated signal apparatus were developed to form a complete block signal system. Robinson’s time. sophisticated encoding and decoding techniques such as trellis modulation.5. rail network was being greatly overbuilt by speculators prior to 1900. However.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Another very desirable characteristic of Robinson’s track circuit was its fail-safe. Thomas Edison’s urban dc utility systems were still 10-12 years away. and digital signal processing are just now being applied to some new signaling equipment. mimicking occupancy by a train. Any condition such as a broken rail. this solution cannot be applied where neutral (polarity-insensitive) track relays are used. Railroads at this time had no easy means of solving this problem other than to transpose the polarity of adjacent track circuits. frequency hopping. will tend to deenergize the track relay. have seen a four-fold increase in gross ton-miles 4-37 . however. which is required by FRA rule 236. etc. Robinson’s track circuit quickly underwent necessary refinements such as the placement of bond wires around each joint bar to ensure consistent conductivity where loose joint bars were a problem. Track circuits have formed the foundation of almost all railroad signaling today in North America. Transistors were used in track circuits as early as 1956. was the electric propulsion of trains. However. closed-circuit design. Borrowing from trends in modern digital communications. allowing energy from one circuit to falsely-energize the adjoining track relay. And the principles of the track circuit have changed little since their inception. And other sources of track circuit interference such as impressed potential cathodic protection systems were not even invented until the mid-twentieth century.S. and use polarity-sensitive relays.

single-fault tolerant. Grade Crossing Warning Systems are the equipment used to detect an approaching train at “highway-rail intersections”. and provide a warning to motorists and pedestrians. which may not be directly related to the functions of either Signal Systems or Grade Crossing Warning Systems. The third category of equipment discussed in this chapter is that of auxiliary systems. including their susceptibility to interference from ac power systems. No value judgments will be made here. when railroads held a preeminent position in the American economy. but this difference in engineering philosophy has both beneficial and adverse impacts on the performance characteristics of Grade Crossing Warning Systems worldwide. Signal systems must do all of these things. One of the keys to this increase in productivity has been the development of signaling systems. Unlike the practices in some other countries. However. motive power (locomotives). employees. The principal objectives are to keep the trains routed onto the correct tracks.) Today’s much larger freight traffic load is handled by a small fraction of the trackage. General Types of Signal Equipment An overview of many different types of railroad signal equipment will be provided in this section. and keep them from colliding with one another or derailing. For the purposes of this chapter. we have grouped the equipment into the following three general categories: 1. while also being “vital”. (Ton-miles are computed by multiplying the tonnage of freight transported by the distance moved in miles. Although some Signal Systems and Grade Crossing Warning Systems in North America are interconnected to some degree. and rolling stock (railroad cars) required during the period from 1880 to 1950. and self-indicating of any vital failure (no latent “vital” failures allowed). these two types of equipment may be effectively discussed separately with no loss of clarity or understanding. or in other words: fail-safe. These systems must also be “vital”.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits since World War I. auxiliary systems are those systems. Grade Crossing Warning Systems were once much more thoroughly integrated with the “signal systems” used in North America than they presently are. better known as “grade crossings”. it appears likely that we will see an increase in the degree of interconnection between Signal Systems and Grade Crossing Warning Systems in the future. but are commonly 4-38 . Grade Crossing Warning Systems 3. railroads in North America usually employ Grade Crossing Warning Systems that are almost entirely separate from the systems used to control the movement of trains (Signal Systems). Signal Systems 2. For the purpose of discussion. Auxiliary Systems Signal systems are systems used to control the movement of trains in a safe and efficient manner. as railroad signal systems continue to evolve.

However. a fail-safe control logic that cannot be easily overridden by a train dispatcher or train crew (regardless of what you’ve seen in the movies). connected directly to the Signal System or Grade Crossing Warning Systems. these systems fall into the “non-vital” category. a fail-safe means of indicating to the trains which movements may safely be made (e. 3. Clearly. and were not electricallyconnected to the signal system at all. wayside signals. such as tag readers and track scales. 4-39 . However. However. and some are mounted on the locomotives and railroad cars. Obviously. and an attempt will be made here to identify the common susceptibilities of each type. But they are nonetheless essential to efficient railroad operations. Hazard detectors are systems designed to detect the occurrence of specific problems that may affect the safety or efficiency of train operations. at its most basic. These hazard detectors may. some of these systems are constructed using many of the same engineering and manufacturing practices as “vital” signaling equipment. Modern signal systems usually contain all of the following four items: 1. Some parts of these systems are installed along the wayside of the railroad. particular emphasis will be placed on grade crossing warning systems. Indeed. Some of them are independent. All of these three different types of equipment can potentially experience interference from ac power distribution and transmission systems. The category of auxiliary systems that we have created here includes both hazard detectors. a fail-safe means of controlling and detecting the position of each mechanical “switch” connecting tracks together. they are not strictly required to be fail-safe. and 4. such as: landslides. or dragging cars or other equipment. What is a Signal System? Signal systems are railroad signal equipment designed to control the movement of trains in a safe and efficient manner. In other words. as all of the track switches were operated by hand. cab signals). as they are generally the first system to experience operational difficulties arising from “ac interference”. 2. overheated wheel bearings. or may not be. Many of them are considered “non-vital”. and commercial tracking systems. and simply alert railroad personnel or take other action when they have detected a problem. and may not be subject to all of the same federal regulations that apply to signal systems and grade crossing warning systems. are used to automate the process of tracking goods shipments. “fail-safe” characteristics are an important part of a signal system.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits found on a railroad. a fail-safe means of detecting the presence of a train or cars on each portion of the tracks to be controlled by the system (usually done via track circuits). the first signal systems constructed had nothing more than the first three. Commercial tracking systems. some are installed in or near the track. and this topic will be given a more thorough examination below.g. a signal system need only contain the first three items.

This arrangement serves as a low-cost substitute for a more sophisticated signal system. and represent a combination of the above techniques. For this reason. self-restoring switches have been commonplace on some TWC railroad lines since the early 1990s. Manual Block 4. The time required for the manipulation of hand-operated track switches by train crews is the primary factor that limits the traffic capacity in non-signaled TWC territory. traffic in this non-signaled trackage is controlled by various operating procedures. power-operated. Train Registers 7. Although the Federal Railroad Administration (the FRA – a branch of the United States Department of Transportation) regulations do not specifically prohibit it. Timetable & Train Order 3. simple economics dictate that non-signaled territory employing TWC is generally suitable only for lines handling fewer than 15-25 trains per day. which relies on a documented dialogue of train movement directives and train location information between dispatchers and train crews. 4-40 . TWC is now widely used . The most common procedure for controlling train movements in dark territory is Track Warrant Control (TWC). non-signaled trackage isn’t necessarily devoid of all types of signal equipment. Track Warrant Control (TWC) 2. Frequently referred to as “Dark Territory”. such as “Form D”. Line-of-Sight or Flag Protection 6.000 are equipped with some type of automatic Grade Crossing Warning System. which made it impractical for train crews riding in the locomotive to open or close hand-operated track switches behind long trains. after having been initially moved by the train crew. One-Train Operation 5. However. also exist. These switches automatically return to their previous position at some time after the train has left the area. less than half of the trackage in North America is equipped with a signal system.000 public Highway-Rail Crossings in the United States. each crossing equipped with warning devices employs some form of track circuit for train detection. such as: 1. With the advent of reliable radio communications. just as a signal system does. This handicap has been compounded by the elimination of cabooses on the rear of trains in the early 1980s. Of these. There are roughly 265.and is generally satisfactory for light-to-moderate traffic conditions. about 65.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Signaled vs. Non-Signaled Trackage Although this chapter is devoted to railroad signaling equipment. Token Block Some other methods. Except for a handful of crossings controlled by manual or experimental means.

H. or a combination of these features. (rule 236.H. Signaled Trackage and its Signal Systems There are many different types of signaling systems currently in use to control the movement of trains. some signal systems also have the ability to assume limited control of the train in an emergency.) Large railroads will usually have some combination of the above. Cab Signals) 2. These signals convey “indications” by means of visible “aspects” composed of colored lights.). while commuter transit operations tend to be more uniform in their overall signaling scheme. Under heavy train traffic.P. The type of control exercised over train movements (ABS. The first parts of a signal system usually seen by a casual observer are the Wayside Signals. if needed. a signaling system is the only efficient and cost-effective means of controlling train movements. along the wayside. moveable semaphore blades. Regardless of signal system type.S. APBS. etc. Signal Systems: Wayside Signals and Cab Signals We will begin our discussion of signal systems by starting with the most visible parts. or passenger train speeds exceed 60 M. i.0c). for both passengers and freight. flashing lights. the safety of most signal systems relies on the train crew’s compliance with the indications provided by the signal system. CTC. while others can display as many as 31 different aspects.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Many of these crossings are installed in so-called “dark” territory. And the FRA rules specifically require the use of a signal system when freight train speeds exceed 50 miles per hour (M. As their name implies. multi-position arrays of lights. How (or where) the indications are provided to the train crew (Wayside Signals vs. 4-41 . usually by activating the train’s brakes. and thus signal systems have become increasingly widespread on U. However. Wayside Signals are permanently installed signal equipment situated alongside or above the track. Economics have favored the use of faster train speeds. which is a term used to refer to railroad tracks which do not have a “signal system” installed. They can differ from one another in two primary ways: 1.e. CBTC. railroads. The particular style of signal and the set of aspects and indications it can display are determined by the preferences of the owning railroad. Some signals can display only one aspect.P.

exactly where. Wayside signals are a form of intermittent control. and is generally unaffected by poor weather.515). In contrast.H. Cab signals seek to convey this same type of information to the train operator by transmitting a coded electrical signal through the rails. horizontal.e. Wayside signals are located along the wayside of the track. The indication provided must be consistent and valid during the time that the train is approaching and passing the wayside signal. in order to fulfill some of the additional federal requirements for trains operating at 80 M. Cab signals are often used in addition to wayside signals. or more specifically. vertical. which “shall be plainly visible to member or members [sic] of the locomotive crew from their stations in the cab” (FRA Rule 236. The signal aspect is continuously presented to the train’s operator. and is used to control the movement of the train until the train approaches the next wayside signal. yellow.). and onto which track the train will travel at the next switch. which is then picked up by sensing coils on the front of the train. cab signals are a form of continuous control. and can tell them whether to stop or go. now that the wayside signal is no longer within view. or vandalism. or faster in the United States.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-28 Rear View of a Wayside Signal Head (Searchlight Type) A wayside signal’s “aspect” is simply its appearance. green. The primary difference between wayside signals and cab signals lies in exactly how. The signal aspect is then shown on a small display in the cab. Each signal aspect conveys specific information (called the “indication”) to the train crew or operator. the train crew’s memory of its indication is all that continues to govern the movement of the train. i. 4-42 . and at what speed.P. what the signal looks like (red. etc. Once the head end of the train has passed (accepted) the wayside signal. and cab signals are located in the cab of the lead locomotive. or even at the next switch beyond that. a signal aspect is displayed to the train crew or train operator. other visual obstructions.

block signals are signals located at the entrance to a block. and the FRA definition refers to “block signals”. The FRA definition of a block does not explicitly mention insulated joints. and the next one begins. The ends of a block are often easy to spot. By definition. so that they can be seen by trains before they enter that block. Signals will often be constructed in a back-to-back fashion. Although we have been discussing “wayside signals”.708 Block (From FRA Rule 236. known as a “block”. Another feature of the track that will usually accompany the end of a block (and a wayside signal) is the presence of insulated joints. while still keeping them electrically insulated from each other (see Insulated Joints. These are special rail joints that physically connect two pieces of rail together.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits What is a Block? Each signal indication is used to control train movements over a specific physical length of track. cab signals. However. above). because not all signaling systems require them (Audio-Frequency Overlay track circuits. the terms may be used interchangeably in this case. the FRA has a more specific definition: 236. as there will likely be a wayside signal (or several) located at the point where one block ends. often on the same signal mast or signal bridge. Subpart G: Definitions): A length of track of defined limits. 4-43 . for example). so that signaling can be provided for trains running in either direction along the track(s). which display their aspects in one direction only. or both. the use of which by trains is governed by block signals.

Yellow signals instruct trains to slow down (usually below 35 M.P. or combinations of aspects. a signal block is a logical entity. yellow means that the next wayside signal ahead presently isn’t green. but this is not correct in the strictest sense. Green. siding or diverging route).Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-29 Section vs.) in preparation for a possible stop at the next wayside signal. separated by insulated joints. but Yellow is slightly different. Block The term “block” is sometimes loosely applied to individual track circuits separated by insulated joints. or indicate the position of switches in the track ahead (mainline vs. and Stop. For automobiles. In signal systems.H. respectively. Like highway traffic signals. whose outputs are taken as a whole to determine the “occupancy” of the block (i. and Red means “stop”. Other aspects. yellow means that the specific traffic light that you are looking at is about to turn red. are any of the track circuits in the block occupied). 4-44 . Green indicates permission to proceed at a rate not exceeding the applicable speed limit. and may either be red or yellow. can provide more detailed “speed limit” information. For trains. Yellow. and Red signal aspects convey indications of Proceed. Signaling Basics In the most basic form of block signaling. and a single signal block may contain several discrete track circuits.e. Approach.

Much of the care and craft put into signaling systems by signal designers goes toward satisfying these essential requirements. and some of the associated terminology. above). as many important details are lacking. and other factors such as available space (see picture. a dark wayside signal is an indication to stop. The terms “interlock” and “interlocking” are used interchangeably as nouns in the railroad sense. Figure 4-30 Limited Clearance for Signals and other Equipment on a Rapid Transit Line. What is an Interlocking? Dictionary definitions for the term “interlock” often include the railroad sense. or running off the tracks. All of these terms refer to the machinery of an interlocking. wayside signals are located wherever it may normally be necessary and desirable to stop a train. it all boils down to this: the signal aspects must be displayed. This is one of the rules required to make the system “vital” (more on this topic below). The location of wayside signals is based on many factors.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits And just like a dark traffic light. The FRA has official definitions for the term “interlocking” which refer to things which “must succeed each other in proper sequence” (rules 236. in such a fashion as to prevent trains from running into each other. and not to the people using it. availability of power or communications. including operational requirements. In brief.751). and associates this with the behavior of the signal system and its associated track switches. 4-45 . 236. But this definition is far from complete. Here we will attempt to explain the basic principles of railroad interlocking. braking distances.750. sighting distance. with the term “interlocker” being the slang or colloquial form. and the track switches must be moved. As a general rule.

or at crossovers in multiple-track territory. In either case. the complexity of the signaling task appears to rise exponentially. this is true. or by train crews (locally). to create the sort of switching network frequently needed in switching yards. And once a train has been given permission to pass through a switch as the train proceeds from one track to another. If a train is currently occupying a switch. interlocked functions may include moveable bridges. as is common in switching yards and rail terminals. and must be coordinated with the signal indications given. remotely. that switch must not be allowed to change positions. and derails. Two trains must never both be given green lights to merge onto the same track simultaneously. only two of the three (or more) tracks that come together at a switch can be connected together at any one time. Indeed. any trains on the third track connected to the switch must be stopped before reaching the switch. the allowable changes at each signal or switch may be dependent on the state or condition of any or all of the other signals and switches in the area. switches. moveable catenary couplers and other special devices.g. Where such an assembly of track switches exists. In addition to the control of signals. ABS and APB). are the mechanical devices that allow two separate tracks to merge into a single track. train movements into and through an interlocking are controlled solely by signal indication. This means that the interlocking (and signal system) must have the ability to control the display of signal aspects that may be shown on wayside or cab signals that are miles away from the switch itself.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Most of the specific hazards that interlocks avoid revolve around track switches. as well as on the location(s) of any train(s). even if they are heading in the same direction. A mechanical or electrical interlocking of the switches and signals ensures that conflicting routes and other unsafe conditions cannot result from improper manipulation of the controls by dispatchers (remotely). When switches are placed near one another. or allow one track to diverge into two. Figure 4-31 Elementary Interlocking Layouts 4-46 . switches serve as the “intersections” of merging or diverging railroad tracks. tunnel doors. rail terminals. This requires that they be given enough advance warning to allow them to safely brake to a stop at a safe distance from both the switch and the train currently using it. Thus. At any given time. an interlocking is provided. The positions of track switches must be carefully controlled. Interlockings may be locally. Unlike some other types of signal systems discussed below (e. Switches. and/or automatically controlled. whether manually or remotely operated.

4-47 . the mechanically operated switches and signals controlled by the interlocking operator could be located no more than about 1500-2000 feet from the signal tower. The last new mechanical interlocking was installed in the United States during World War II. the few surviving mechanical interlocking plants in the U. Due to the mass and friction of the mechanical interconnections. electro-pneumatic. As of 2003. railroads. One of the largest machines of this type was delivered in 1949.000 feet from the control machine. control levers for switches and signals were mechanically and electrically interlocked to prevent improper manipulation. will be retired in the near future. a substantial number of power interlocking machines may continue in-service for another 10-20 years on certain rapid transit lines.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Mechanical Interlocking Mechanical Interlocking (developed 1870-1900) used mechanically-interlocked. or 3/4" or 1" diameter steel pipes and rods supported on greased rollers. The production of spare parts by the last British mechanical interlocking manufacturer ceased in the early 1970s. with new installations as late as 1955. and all-electric field equipment was introduced beginning 1890-1900.S. to approximately 5. a substantial number of mechanical plants still exist. Although rapidly disappearing from U.S. manuallyoperated levers in the signal tower that were connected directly to switches and signals by steel cables. The maximum control distance was substantially increased. Worldwide. the mechanism could now “sense” the presence of a train on a particular section of track via an input from a track circuit. Figure 4-32 Mechanical Interlocking Machine Power Interlocking Power Interlocking technology employing hydraulic. As in earlier mechanical interlocking systems. primarily on lines of lesser importance. This technology matured prior to World War I.000 to 10. That is. or where economic conditions have inhibited modernization. The interlocking mechanism thus created embodied the necessary control logic to prevent the states of signals and switches from being changed in an improper sequence. Electro-mechanical locks and “slotting” mechanisms were later added to the mechanical levers. to improve safety and flexibility by making the system interactive with train movements.

the largest relay interlocking plant installed in the U. and will remain in service for many years to come.S. used fail-safe Vital Relays to substitute for the cumbersome and inflexible mechanical locking bars and levers of mechanical interlocking systems. With over 4000 of these vital relays. introduced in 1929. The positions of the track switches.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-33 Typical Power Interlocking Machine Relay-Based Interlocking Relay Interlocking. were all represented by relay states. grade crossing warning systems. was placed in service in 1994. and signal systems employing these same vital relays continue to be widely produced. 4-48 . as well as track occupancy. This is very similar to Power Interlocking. above. Interlockings. but with no mechanical interlocking.

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-34 Rack-Mounted Plug-In Vital Relays in a Relay-Based Interlocking Plant Solid-State Interlocking Solid-State Interlocking (S. Figure 4-35 Sophisticated Electronics Typical of Solid-State Interlocking Systems 4-49 . any internal failure. Solid-state interlockings employ microprocessors in combination with special I/O circuitry and software functions that ensure prompt detection of.S. and proper reaction to.S. in 1985 as a substitute for the large number of costly vital relays found in most interlockings.) technology was introduced in the U.I.

a fog-penetrating yellow color. Wayside Signal Aspects and Indications Wayside signals can take many forms. is used for position-light signals. This process of signal evolution is continuing even today. Many obsolete systems using colored balls. there have been many different prevailing philosophies as to what constituted the “optimal” signal system for a particular application. the use of blue signal lights is reserved for marker lights only. The colors used for signal aspects today are generally limited to green. rolling stock. In order to organize these systems by their features. there is still a wide variety of signal systems installed on the signaled trackage of the North American rail network. This rule requires the use of blue signal lights to identify track. The first. This line emulates the visible position of the formerly used semaphore arms or blades. However. or locomotives currently being serviced by railroad employees or other persons. as opposed to colorlight signals. The presence of a blue signal invokes an extensive list of rules and regulations designed to protect the safety of people working on and around tracks. current FRA rules permit only the use of semaphore blades or lights to create signal aspects and indications (FRA Rule 236. and on-track machinery. and oldest. and lunar white. As a result. There are currently two basic and distinct ways of displaying a signal aspect or indication to the crew of a train. “Noviol”. and other innovative signal equipment have been used in the past. cars.23). flags. we will begin with the most visible difference between them. Therefore. convey their aspects not by the color displayed. A truly blue signal light has a special meaning. as are used to comply with FRA rule 218. This section briefly discusses the most common. but by the orientation or position of a line of lights of the same color.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Types of Signaling Systems Over the history of railroad signaling. We will begin with wayside signals. the use of semaphore arms has been almost completely discontinued in the United States. which is a bluish-white. 4-50 . Position-light signals. is by wayside signals installed alongside the tracks. the method of displaying the signal aspect. red. i. yellow. the process of updating signal systems has continued in a piecemeal fashion.e. track equipment. as dictated by the economics of each situation. And even though they are still legal according to FRA rules. The other is via a display in the cab of a locomotive or train. But due to the installed cost and long lifetime of a signal system. and then move into the more conceptual differences between railroad signal systems.

e. this term is usually reserved for signals located at a switch. However. which governs the movement of trains into that route or block. at a switch). by this definition. Obviously.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-36 Common Types of Light Signals Figure 4-37 Track Plan Symbology for Wayside Signals A “home signal” is a signal located at the entrance to a route or block (i. 4-51 . with signals located along tracks where there are no switches generally being called “intermediate” signals. almost every signal could be called a “home signal”.

commercial trends suggest that the 3-lamp “colorlight” signal is the most versatile and economical form of wayside signal in use. The aspect displayed on a signal is normally read from top to bottom. the multiple-arm signals can also provide other information to the train’s crew about the route that they will be taking over the next few switches in the track ahead. or in a triangular form. Figure 4-39 Colorlight signals (Safetran Systems) 4-52 . or a single-arm G. However.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Two-arm and three-arm (two-head and three-head) interlocking home signals are common. Their light units may be arranged in a vertical array. as shown below. A signal displaying Greenover-Red-over-Red (G/R/R) indicates clear . with a circular background. with an oval background. Figure 4-38 3-Aspect and 4-Aspect Signal Systems Colorlight Signals Presently. The G/R/R aspect gives the same indication as a two-arm signal displaying G/R.proceed at maximum authorized speed.

18-watt incandescent lamps most often used in colorlight signals are readily controlled using modern vital solid-state output devices. In some cases of reported “phantom” indications. and it is unknown whether the false indication was caused by a phantom. Mirrors cannot be used to capture a greater percentage of the incandescent lamp’s output in most colorlight signal head designs. the 10-volt. or by induced ac voltage on the lighting circuit wires. passing through the colored filter or roundel. due to the possibility of “phantom” indications. This greatly 4-53 . 18. Light entering an optical system with a mirror could potentially reflect outward again. which is usually painted flat black.or 25-watt lamp. no indication circuits or “stuckmechanism” checking is required for this type of signal. One optical device conspicuously absent from the design of colorlight signal heads is a mirror. These are not unlike the screens sometimes used on highway traffic light to restrict the angles at which the signal can be viewed. Phantom indications are caused by the reflection of light from external sources such as sunlight or locomotive headlights. Unlike searchlight signals (see below). Colorlight signals having focused single or doublet lenses in them do not have mirrors behind their lamps. it has been impossible to duplicate the reported failure. Only a small fraction (less than 20%) of the light output of the filament is captured and projected through the lens system. the large (8-3/8" or 12" diameter) flashing incandescent lights used at grade crossings do have a concave a mirror behind the 10-volt. and giving the impression that the signal is lit in a particular color. Another technique for eliminating phantom indications is the installation of a louvered screen or grating in front of the lens. even when it isn’t lit at all. The rest is absorbed by the interior of the signal assembly.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-40 Colorlight Signals Although controlled exclusively by vital relay logic in the past. Crossing Flashers In contrast. But phantom indications are taken very seriously by signal design and maintenance departments.

These resemble the LED light units now commonly installed in highway traffic lights. as a phantom indication to a motorist or pedestrian could only result in their stopping briefly for a train that wasn’t there. Figure 4-41 Flashing Lights from a Grade Crossing (Shown Without Visor or Background) (Safetran Systems) LED Colorlight Signals The use of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) light units in colorlight signals is currently increasing. Therefore. These light units have been made by installing a large number of LEDs into a printed circuit board. However. these lights can also be equipped with a colored roundel that distributes light over a relatively wide angle. and their visibility. forming a two-dimensional planar array. Phantom indications are not a problem in this case. Figure 4-42 LED Wayside Signal Lamps (Safetran Systems) 4-54 . they may be equipped with a wire mesh to reduce damage from vandalism. and no louvered screens are use.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits increases their light output.

Searchlight Signals Another longstanding type of wayside signal is the “searchlight” signal. This mechanism controls the aspect (color) displayed by electro-mechanically moving the correct colored lens into position in front of the bulb. And since the mechanism is polarity-sensitive. yellow. Figure 4-43 Rear View of a Wayside Signal Head (Searchlight Type) 4-55 .21.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits LED lamp unit manufacturers have now successfully mimicked the standard red. The use of colored filters in conjunction with colored LEDs is unnecessary. virtually all of the lamp’s light output may be captured by an ellipsoidal reflector. distinctive indication with the sun at low angles behind or facing the signal. and even inadvisable in some cases. As each LED is molded into its own plastic lens. this usually limits their ac susceptibility. these light units have the distinct manufacturing advantage of not requiring precise focusing. Because stray light entering the searchlight mechanism from some external source cannot easily produce a phantom indication. Today. and “admiralty green” colors used in signaling. White LEDs have not yet been successfully demonstrated as a direct substitute for incandescent lamps. the chief advantage of the searchlight signal lies in its ability to produce a clear. This is very helpful in multipletrack territory where there are several tracks running in parallel to one another. as was required for the doublet-lens optical system used with incandescent lamps. The position of the spectacle is controlled by an electromagnetic mechanism driven by low-current dc energy. The searchlight signal’s carefully aligned optics provide an intense beam of colored light that can be precisely directed only at trains on the track associated with that signal. These consist of a single bulb placed behind a lens assembly and color-selection mechanism. but this could still happen. the searchlight mechanism projects a beam of light through one of the colored filters mounted on a moving spectacle. Introduced in 1920. A clear association between a signal and the track it governs is generally required by FRA Rule 236.

Although exceptionally long-lived.S. and was widely considered obsolete by 1940. The distinctive and versatile Baltimore & Ohio-style color-position light signals found on former Baltimore &Ohio. Figure 4-44 Safetran Unilens® Signal (Safetran Systems) Position Light Signals Although physically larger and more complex than simple colorlight signals.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Fiber-Optic Searchlight Signals Other wayside signal designs have used separate incandescent bulbs. Many of these position light signals have now been modified to some form of hybrid color/position signaling. 4-56 . the semaphore signal has no inherent technical advantage in any application. and is currently the only way to display four different colors through a single lens. large numbers of position light signals on former Pennsylvania Railroad and Norfolk &Western trackage in the eastern U. just as the filament of an incandescent bulb would be. however. this allows it to be installed in unusually tight spaces. railroads were quickly being eradicated. and Gulf Mobile & Ohio railroad lines are gradually being replaced by two-arm colorlight signals. Illinois Central. partly due to lack of spare parts to replace those removed (stolen) by collectors. will remain in service for many years to come. Position light signals continue to find use in other parts of the world. Semaphore Signals As of 2003. In some cases. each with its own colored filter to create colored light that is carried by fiber optics to a single lens assembly.S. These signal heads are controlled in exactly the same way that ordinary colorlight signals are. The bundled ends of the fibers are positioned at the focal point of the lens assembly. The primary advantage of this design is that it combines the colorlight signal’s simplicity of control with the compactness of a searchlight signal. most of the remaining motor-operated semaphore signals in-service on major U.

most cable runs are limited to less than 250’ in length. The relatively high current required to energize low voltage incandescent lamps also reduces the risk of them being falsely energized due to unintentional grounds. railroads as well. or other circuits operating at lower currents and higher voltages than incandescent bulbs are inherently more susceptible to EMC problems. but are of a special design requiring meticulous construction (and a premium price).S. can go much further.G. Power for almost all lighting circuits in railroad signaling is carried by heavy-gauge cable (#6 A. which have a step-down transformer in the signal head. Due to I2R losses at such low voltages. The position of the “coiled coil” tungsten filament of the lamp is carefully adjusted during manufacture to position it within 0. First: rugged. and often provide a filament failure indication to the interlocking or Central Traffic Control (CTC) operator when the first filament burns out. Thirdly. Lamps as small as 5 watts are used in subway tunnels. with the 18-watt and 25-watt sizes being the most common for outdoor applications. Rated for 1500 hours at 10 volts. compact lamp filaments are harder to fabricate for operating voltages greater than 12-24 volts. their use is generally declining. in a low-voltage system. The cable runs of transformer-coupled ac lighting circuits. These may also be used for approach-lit searchlight signals (above ground) that are fed from primary batteries. the difference in current between the on and off states of the lamp is very great. are standard for some U. Dual filament lamps having 13-watt or 18-watt major filaments. especially where there is significant capacitive coupling to other circuits in long multi-conductor cables.016 inches of the optical system’s focal point.5-watt minor filaments. where contrast with high ambient lighting conditions is not a problem. Although the use of such low voltages might seem problematic.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Signal Lighting Circuits Low-voltage (8-10 volt) lighting circuits have remained the standard for both signal and grade crossing light units for decades. 10-volt filaments. as is the usual practice. These lamps resemble the common #1141 automotive tail lamp bulb available at your local auto parts store. but are still typically limited to about 3500’ in length.0 to 8. the lowimpedance. and 3.5 Volts (ac or dc). Second.W. these lamps have a nearly unlimited life when operated at 8. or magnetically induced energy. crossed wires. concentrated “point source” of light. enabling the use of very simple filament failure detection circuits. high-current nature of these circuits makes it more difficult to falsely energize them with stray energy. However. or larger) from the point of control to the signal head. Signal Lamps Most wayside signals use incandescent lamps with 13 to 25 watt. 4-57 . Filament detection relays are located in the signal head. Lighting circuits employing the simplistic 1st-generation LED-based replacements for incandescent bulbs. in order to conserve battery power. This is due to the need for a small. Operation is transferred to the secondary filament when this occurs. Dual filament lamps are common in many countries outside North America. these low-voltage lighting circuits offer several distinct advantages over higher-voltage alternatives.

as with any dual filament lamp. unless there was 12 FRA rule 236. fog. There are several different styles of train control. The various forms of cab signaling used in the U. In most instances. cab signaling provides the basis for Automatic Train Control (ATC) (see below). Fortunately. and thereby direct the movement of trains. an ABS system simply tells a train crew about the occupancy and condition of the tracks ahead on a single track.23. 4-58 . FRA rules for failed lamps require only that the signal “not cause the display a less-restrictive aspect than intended” as the result of a failed lamp12. Cab signals remain clearly visible to the train crew even when wayside signals are obscured by track curvature. cab signals show their colored aspects or numeric speed limit indications on a display inside the cab of the locomotive. subpart f. Cab signaling systems work by transmitting a current through the rails. Automatic Block Signals (ABS) At its most basic. Cab Signal Systems All of the signal heads discussed to this point are used in some form of wayside signaling. based on block occupancy and route conditions immediately ahead. it is impossible to locate both filaments at the exact focal point of the optical system. or more restrictive. Types of Signal Control Systems Regardless of whether a signal systems uses wayside or cab signals to display a signal aspect to a train’s crew.S. is immediately presented to the train operator. cab signaling serves as an adjunct to the wayside signaling system. but they differ slightly in the degree and type of human involvement. If there were only one train on an all-ABS railroad with only one track and no switches. which is sensed by coils mounted on the front of the train.A. it must still have the required vital logic to control these aspects and indications. the cab signal system provides information to the train. As with wayside signals. However. whether more permissive. In contrast. Any change in indication. the cab signal system furnishes a continuous stream of real-time information as the train traverses the block. all of which are vital.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Lamps having two identical half-wattage filaments are sometimes used for railroad signaling to provide a graceful degradation of performance when one filament fails. Unlike a wayside signal system. the signals ahead of the train would always be green. The out-of-focus secondary filament tends to produce a much less visible signal indication. today were introduced between 1923 and 1928. The FRA has also interpreted this rule to mean that a multi-arm signal (a wayside signal with two or more signal heads) may not be deliberately made completely dark as the result of a light-out condition. or other hindrances. In one of its more sophisticated forms. where the signal indication is conveyed to the train crew at fixed locations along the tracks.

and switch circuit controllers. in one direction at a time. Of course. Additionally. ABS systems use conventional track circuits of many kinds. 13 The terrain through which a railroad runs has a significant impact on braking distances. and would therefore not be proceeding at the timetable speed limit along the main line. In a typical ABS system. 4-59 . with trains traveling downhill needing longer to stop. The susceptibility of ABS to ac interference depends on the specific type of track circuits used. Block lengths are seldom completely uniform. ABS systems are invariably arranged to provide bi-directional running capability. the ABS system should show a yellow signal two or three blocks before the train arrived at the block with the problem. except for common elements such as power sources and equipment housings. and the method used for conveying the occupancy information. block signals usually provide information regarding the aspect displayed on the next signal beyond the one currently being viewed. As soon as we add the complexity of switches and multiple routes or tracks. 13 based on topography and operating requirements . Arbitrary one-mile blocks were common in many older ABS systems since this distance was usually about the maximum operable length for early dc track circuits. All of this can be automatically accomplished by simple track circuits. the first time the train on our one-train railroad encountered a switch that wasn’t lined up for the train to continue on the main line.000 feet to over 15. individual block lengths on mainline railroads generally range from 4. vital relays. trains can still only use it in one direction at a time. However. and would show a red signal at the entrance to the block with the problem. Entry into each block is governed by a wayside signal. the signal for the main line in front of that switch would not show a green aspect. Today. things change. Specifically. No human intervention is required in order for the signal system to provide an indication to the train. The simplest Automatic Block Signaling systems provide a means of safely expediting successive following train movements. the track is divided into a series of consecutive blocks of varied length.000 feet. wayside signals. ABS systems on parallel tracks are generally independent of one another. depending on operating requirements. Block signals do not convey information regarding permanent speed limits. and often use long cables or open wires on poles to convey the occupancy information along the length of the railroad from block to block. Open line-wires will generally be more susceptible to induced ac interference than shielded cables. In that case. hence the word “automatic” in the name. This is because the train would be forced by the switch to diverge onto another track. on mainline track. the aspects of which are automatically controlled solely by the presence (or absence) and direction of preceding trains. which are instead listed in the railroad timetable.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits a problem with the tracks or track circuits themselves.

There is generally no means of dispatcher control or intervention in controlling signals or switches. Using relay logic. Figure 4-46 Bi-directional Absolute-Permissive Block System (APB) 4-60 . the APB system is capable of controlling traffic based on the direction of preceding trains. A distinguishing feature of ABS and APB is that train movements are controlled solely by the location and direction of train movements. APB is a somewhat more sophisticated application of ABS to single-track lines where both opposing and following train movements must be controlled. All signals normally display their most permissive aspect.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-45 Sequence of Aspects for Typical Single Direction Automatic Block System (ABS) in Multi-Track Territory Absolute-Permissive Block Signaling (APBS) A later improvement (circa 1911) in ABS technology was Absolute-Permissive Block (APB). Outside of CTC territory. ABS and APBS signals serve only as adjuncts to movement authority control procedures such as Track Warrant Control (TWC).

or communications link malfunction. 4-61 . circuits and systems that directly affect the safety of train movements (Vital Circuits). a clear distinction developed between devices. Furthermore. the vital logic in the field will not allow it to be acted upon in an unsafe manner. non-vital communication circuits can be used to control it. Because the vital logic is in the field. and has one very important feature. The distinction between vital and non-vital function is one of the most important concepts in modern railway signaling design. the control logic is implemented entirely using vital devices such as vital relays in located in wayside equipment shelters. The introduction of the compact plug-in vital relays by 1934 also greatly improved the technical and economic feasibility of CTC. the concept of non-vital signal circuits was introduced. Thus the vital “state machine” constructed may be distributed over hundreds of miles of track. and will not permit an unsafe sequence of manipulations by a dispatcher. Previously. because of the smaller physical size of the relays. Should an unsafe request be sent out by the CTC office. With the development of CTC. An important result of the clear separation between vital and non-vital circuits in CTC is that the control and indication information that is passed back and forth between the CTC dispatching office and the signal equipment in the field is non-vital. whether due to human error. criminal intent. And the substitution of vital relays for mechanical interlocking logic was another early step toward the remote control of track switches. At that time. which were used by the dozens. and elements whose malfunction could not jeopardize safety (Non-Vital Circuits). all of the circuits associated with interlocking and ABS logic were vital circuits.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-47 Overlap Versus Non-Overlapping Block Systems Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) The desire to use remotely controlled track switches in outlying areas led to the development of small-scale remote control systems built using telephone selector switches by the early 1920s.

Figure 4-49 Typical CTC System Under CTC operation. there is no practical limit to the physical size of a CTC system. while the overall rail network shrank (in route miles) during the same period by 35%. A CTC system is essentially an enormous interlocking.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-48 #20 Switches Allow Crossover Moves Between Tracks at 45 mph in CTC Territory. Using electrically-operated field equipment. 4-62 . This Greatly Enhances the Speed and Efficiency of Train Movements From 1980 to 2000. due in part to the advent of large computerized dispatching centers. the number of signaled track miles has increased. modern communications technology. and nonvital remote control systems. Overall. nor any limit as to the distance between the CTC control center and its field locations. spanning a wide geographic area. the number of miles under CTC control substantially increased. all train movements within a specific territory are controlled by signal indications.

ABS signals are provided as needed in order to expedite following train movements and provide an indication of the route established (mainline or diverging) over the next turnout or crossover. Figure 4-50 Complex Interlocking Control Panel on Heavy Rail Rapid Transit System Figure 4-51 Computer-Based Operations Control Center for a Light-Rail Transit System (U. TCS operators have no means of visually observing the head and tail ends of passing trains to confirm that specific trains have entered or vacated a block. and 2. Interlocking. as defined earlier. that is located within CTC territory. is termed a Control Point. These “Train Control Systems” include Automatic 4-63 . the FRA uses the term Traffic Control System (TCS) to describe any system whereby: 1.&S Inc. and CTC.S.) Train Control Systems In addition to developments in ABS. another distinct class of signaling technology evolved during the 20th century. To encompass the various names applied to different forms of CTC. Between control points.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits An interlocking. all train movements are controlled by signal indication.

Mechanical Trip Stop The earliest practical train control systems (circa 1900) employed mechanical trip stop devices located at each wayside signal. the trip arm was raised or otherwise positioned to make contact with an arm attached to a valve or switch on the passing train. including precise stopping at station platforms or loading/unloading facilities. Briefly stated. Today.A.S. When a signal displayed its most restrictive aspect. and serve to enforce compliance with restrictive signal indications. ATO systems provide a means of automatic or semi-automatic train operation.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Train Stop (ATS). Figure 4-52 Mechanical Trip Stop. Engagement of the car-borne trip cock placed the train’s air brakes into the “Emergency” mode (the most drastic and rapid form of braking possible. these systems are overlaid upon ABS and interlocking systems. Basically. Automatic Cab Signal (ACS). driverless ATC/ATO systems on steel wheel/rail rapid transit lines provide 90-second headways (the spacing between successive trains traveling on the same line) with station stopping position accuracy of better than +/-9". Despite the various weaknesses of this system. and Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems. The most sophisticated train control systems implemented to date offer Automatic Train Operation (ATO) capability. it remains in-service on a substantial number of rapid transit properties in North America and elsewhere. ATC/ATO systems designed for driverless freight and passenger operation were placed in regular service as early as 1962 in the U. which can result in derailments). and Canada. Wayside Element 4-64 . as indicated by the signal system. ATC systems may also serve to restrict train speeds in accordance with prevailing civil speed limits. these systems automatically force the train to slow down or stop.

the intermittent inductive system had several serious weaknesses.) orders in 1922 and 1924. The coil remained open when any other aspect was displayed.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-53 Mechanical Trip Stop.C. and its use was largely discontinued (with FRA approval) in the early 1970s. The carborne and wayside equipment were relatively simple. A wayside inductor (usually mounted in the middle of the track). The locomotives carried a similar C-shaped core having two coils. the voltage induced in the train’s secondary coil was minimal. by 1930. rugged. and one new system of this type has recently been installed on a new freight/passenger light-rail line. Nonetheless. requiring the installation of train control systems on certain mainlines. one coil providing a steady magnetic flux. and could be readily overlaid onto existing signal systems and locomotive brake valves with minimal effort.S.C. With the wayside coil shorted.A. wound around a C-shaped core. several extensions to the few remaining systems have been made. Carborne Element Intermittent Inductive Trip Stop Mainline railroads operating at high speeds over long distances could not tolerate the handicaps inherent to the mechanical trip stop system. With the wayside inductor circuit open. was short-circuited when the associated wayside signal displayed its most permissive aspect. Since then. Responding to Interstate Commerce Commission (I. the induced voltage was sufficient to trigger the toggling of a relay in the on-board system. The wayside element (inductor) located at each signal served to transmit a single bit of information (“clear” or “danger”) to passing trains. while a secondary coil sensed the voltage induced when passing the wayside element. the “Intermittent Inductive Automatic Trip Stop” system was developed and widely deployed in the U. 4-65 . This action initiated the application of the train’s brakes unless there had been a manual actuation of a forestalling switch by the locomotive engineer.

Magnetic Trip Stop Various types of intermittent magnetic trip stop systems have been developed in the U.A.S.e. 1000. the wayside element will act upon trains in one direction only. In this system. Using a timer to measure the elapsed time between passing successive wayside elements. Introduced in the early 1930s. the wayside element is tuned to differing frequencies (500. and 2000 Hz). and then governs train movement accordingly. including wayside-to-train data transmission capability. this system has undergone various evolutionary enhancements. Figure 4-54 Magnetic Trip Stop System 4-66 . special measures must be taken to avoid false tripping where heavy dc propulsion currents are used. and Europe since the 1920s. This type of system may be arranged to provide directional bias. during the past 25 years. i. The train detects the presence and frequency of the wayside element. this system may also be used to control train speed.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Indusi A variation on the intermittent inductive system known as Indusi is widely used throughout the German DB-affiliated railways of Europe. magnetic trip stop systems have a wayside element that produces one or more magnetic fields. The car-borne element senses the polarity and sequence of these fields as the train passes. Magnetic trip stop systems have been applied to a number of newly constructed electrified light rail systems in the U.S. In general. Because this type of system is susceptible to stray polarized magnetic fields of a constant polarity.

S. At first glance.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-55 Modern Driverless Automatic Train Control Systems Promote Efficient Land Utilization in Densely Populated Urban Area (U. this would appear to offer a comprehensive solution to power line EMC problems.) Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) CBTC is generally synonymous with a variety of acronyms and trade names: • • • • • • • • • CBS: Communication-Based Signaling TBS: Transmission-Based Signaling PTC: Positive Train Control PTS: Precision Train Control AATC: Advanced Automatic Train Control ARES: Advanced Railway Electronics System ATCS: Advanced Train Control System ETCS: European Train Control System ERTMS: European Rail Traffic Management System Since the early 1980s. 4-67 .&S Inc. a series of initiatives have been undertaken by various entities in North America and Europe to develop and deploy vehicle-borne train control systems that would augment or eliminate reliance on wayside-oriented signaling and train control technology.

a means of detecting that electrical energy (e. we will discover that they all share some common features. the coil of a relay) 3. a leaky (i. Other types of loops may be in the form of a pair of wires or.g. an output which provides information about the presence or location of a train to other components of the railroad signal system.S. Information is passed between the train and the signal system via these loops. The effect of longitudinal ac induction on loop-based systems is a significant EMC concern. They are: 1.g. Track Circuits in General Most Signal Systems and Grade Crossing Warning Systems rely primarily on vital track circuits of one type or another for train detection. and wireless systems. in some recent installations. or elsewhere. the armature and contacts of the relay. the rails and the axles of the train) 4. the product development cycles have been so long that key pieces of hardware. If we look at track circuits in general. A 2.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits However in the face of daunting technical and financial hurdles. a means of transmitting the energy from the source to the detector in such a fashion that it can be changed in some way by the presence or location of a train (i. a source of electrical energy (e. Most utilize GSM-R or a proprietary cellular WAN concept. such as the radio transceivers.) 4-68 . CBTC systems have been developed using wireless communication technologies. Communication-based train control systems installed on a limited number of transit lines to-date have tended to be experimental. loop-based systems such as LZB and SELTRAC employ a continuous or semi-continuous circuit placed parallel to the track with one wire against a running rail and the other wire centered between the running rails. in all of the different types of track circuits that will be discussed below. have become obsolete before initial trials were completed. in one form or another. The technological spectrum of CBTC is divided between loop systems. lightly-shielded) coaxial cable. a battery) 2.e. These features will be present. none of these technologies has successfully supplanted the existing signal system. (e.e.11b wireless digital communications standard has been adopted by New York City for CBTC systems. First developed in Europe in the late 1960s. Some loops may extended unbroken for several kilometers or more. a relay-drive output. San Francisco’s BART has installed an experimental position-determining and communication system based on military EPLARS spread spectrum radio technology.g. etc. Elsewhere. A long succession of proponents have promised but failed to convincingly demonstrate that any new train control technologies will increase hauling capacity or reduce point-to-point transit times. one-of-a-kind systems having unsatisfactory service histories and short life cycles. In several instances. To date. none of these concepts has yet come to fruition in the U.4 GHz system closely resembling the IEEE 802. More recently.

for local distribution along the railroad. Modern track circuits are no longer restricted to outputting a simple dc current derived directly from a battery. a limited number of commercial ac power drops were installed at central locations along each railroad line. As such. low-cost battery chargers became available for use. or even a thermoelectric generator. But it was the development of a suitable rectifier that made possible the use of rechargeable lead-acid cells (or sometimes Nickel-Iron “Edison” cells). In the case of simple dc track circuits. Earlier rectifier technologies had proven unsuitable. or even used their own generation and distribution facilities. the source of energy is usually a single rechargeable lead-acid cell kept charged by a battery charger. silicon diodes. The commercial ac power would be converted to 550 V ac (or higher). railroads relied almost exclusively on primary batteries. 4-69 . The chargers used are large enough in capacity to supply the ongoing needs of the signal equipment.6 volts. Due to their need for extreme reliability. but in remote installations may also be supplied by an array of photovoltaic solar cells. wind generator. reliable. But since the used of direct-current power at 12 Volts with battery back-up is the most common form of power supply for railroad electronic signaling equipment. this practice was once much less common than it is today. and many different types of pulsed-dc or ac electrical signals are now applied to the tracks. but with the development of the first solid-state (copper oxide) rectifier in 1926. most transmitted signals are produced by track circuits that are somehow battery powered.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Batteries and Electrification Even though this handbook is focused on railroads and ac power lines sharing the same corridor. The battery charger is normally powered by 120 Volt or 240 Volt 60 Hz ac power. A local pole-mounted transformer at each signal equipment location would step the voltage back down to 110 V ac for use by the battery chargers and rectifiers. the availability (and reliability) of early ac power to power the signaling equipment was a serious concern for the railroads. In modern times. This was often done using a single pair of #6 wires carried on the same poles as the signal system “linewires” running parallel to the tracks. Drawing only a very light load at each signal location. Other more sophisticated track circuits are often powered by a similar 12 Volt battery. Every track circuit relies on a source of electrical energy that can be converted into the proper form for transmission into or along the tracks. an ABS system covering up to 50 miles of track could be serviced by a single pair of wires in this fashion. For many years. kept fully charged by an ac-powered battery charger. Since that time. and the railroads then used their own poles and wires to distribute the power. In the absence of railroad-generated power. and now microprocessorcontrolled temperature-compensating battery chargers. and can simultaneously provide a fairly rapid recharging of the battery after a deep discharge. railroad signal systems normally use rechargeable batteries. the ultimate source of that electrical energy is usually the local electric utility. whose state of charge is maintained in much the same way. which apply direct current to the track at roughly 1. A key catalyst in the switch from primary batteries to rechargeable batteries and ac-powered rectifiers was the development of a suitable rectifier. this technology has been successively replaced by selenium rectifiers.

to be immersed in the electrolyte solution when the lid was installed. to reduce evaporation of the water in the electrolyte. New cells were usually assembled on-site from individual components. When a cell became exhausted. The powdered electrolyte was mixed with water in the large (> 1 gallon) glass or ceramic jar that served as the battery case. a thin layer of “battery oil” would then be added through a small funnel-shaped hole in the lid. Figure 4-56 Primary Railroad Signal Batteries (Lalande Cells). The anode and cathode would be attached to binding posts protruding through the removable lid of the jar.95 Volts. After installing the lid. some lingering effects from this. battery oil. a copper (actually cupric oxide) cathode. These disposal practices obviously pre-dated hazardous material disposal laws. the liquid contents were customarily dumped along the railroad right-of-way. but this dropped to about 0. New (Left). However. and a fresh batch of electrolyte was mixed up in the same jar. and rebuilding each cell when it had been exhausted. new electrodes. New electrodes were installed onto the underside of the lid. Railroad personnel known as “Battery Maintainers” always carried water. These had an open-circuit voltage of approximately 0. usually in the form of unusual soil 4-70 . powdered caustic soda (sodium hydroxide).6 volts under heavy loads. and the other small parts needed to rebuild a cell. the old electrodes discarded trackside. and Discharged (Right) Battery maintenance consisted of replacing any water lost from the electrolyte through evaporation. which had a zinc anode.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Primary Batteries The primary batteries used for most early dc track circuits used caustic soda type primary cells (known as Lalande cells). and the cell was returned to service. and a sodium hydroxide electrolyte. and have since been discontinued.

caused railroads to switch to rechargeable lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries. or periods of unusual load. Twelve hours is a common requirement. The lengthening of track circuits has also enabled the elimination of batteries at many ABS locations or cut-sections where reliable ac power is unobtainable at reasonable cost. and the number of hours of stand-by time required in the event of an ac power failure. the voltage required. Air-depolarized carbon-zinc primary batteries were once used. Using this method. if carefully maintained.C. the batteries are only discharged during ac power outages. along with the expanding availability and reliability of commercial ac power. used in conjunction with rectifier/charger circuits. or may be specified by the railroad based on past experience. 4-71 .).Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits conductivity in the area of old signal equipment enclosures and their nearby battery boxes can still be seen. The required stand-by time is usually specified by each state’s public utilities commission (P. and continue to be found in dwindling numbers on the most remote sections of railways in the western United States. with cells in the 120 to 400 Amp-Hour range being the most common. Figure 4-57 Modern Single Lead-Acid (or Ni-Cd) Battery Cell Cells are generally available in sizes from around 100 Amp-Hours to over 1000 Amp-Hours. The size of the battery bank constructed is determined by the size of the load. But not all primary batteries were of the Lalande caustic-soda type.U. Rechargeable Batteries Over time. but some localities require much more than this. the cost of maintaining and rebuilding primary batteries. and can have very long service lifetimes.

a “battery choke” is often installed in series with the battery and resistor.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Transmitters The basic dc track circuit transmitter uses a single-cell lead-acid rechargeable battery. in order to minimize this effect.) 4-72 . Figure 4-59 Drawing of Typical Track Circuit Battery Choke (Safetran Systems Corp. This inductor is high enough in inductance to provide several ohms of reactance at the lowest ac signaling frequency used on the tracks. and is physically large enough to avoid significant core saturation at the dc current levels usually employed by the track circuit. As this circuit can present an excessive load (rail-to-rail shunt) for other track circuits using ac currents on the tracks. Resistor. and an adjustable wire-wound resistor of a few ohms. and Battery Choke A battery choke consists of an iron-core inductor normally wound on a gapped “C” core. Figure 4-58 Simple Schematic Drawing of Cell.

in order to reduce the harmonic content of the pulses. coding rates of 75. a coded ac track circuit transmitter can be created using the same coding relay. Thus. and this type of track circuit not only determines the occupancy of the track circuit. but also transmits a limited amount of information down the tracks by using transmitter electronics that generate widely-spaced dc pulse pairs. which “make” and “break” with each full cycle of the pendulum. and may also use a coupling capacitor to block any dc voltage present on the tracks. This can be used in place of open linewires or cable to convey track occupancy information. By substituting a source of ac energy of a particular frequency for the battery. These oscillators are equipped with relay-type contacts. Another twist on the idea of using a coded dc track circuit not only determines track occupancy. Decoding this type of signal is more complicated. However. The duty cycle is roughly 50%. Normally. but there are also others. Transmitters in most ac track circuits use a transformer to couple the ac signal onto the track. The different pulse frequencies are generated using several finely built electromechanical (pendulum-type) oscillators. Figure 4-60 Transmitter Coupling Transformer and Capacitor 4-73 . This concept of applying dc pulses to the track can easily be extended to include ac signals as well. or 180 pulses-per-minute are used. The frequency transmitted is determined by selecting which electromechanical (pendulum-type) oscillator is used to generate the dc pulses.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Coded dc track circuits have a transmitter that transmits a continuous stream of dc pulses down the track. 120. a coded dc track circuit transmitter looks essentially like a battery that is connected to the tracks by a set of relay contacts that open and close to generate dc pulses. additional filtering equipment is often added between the coding relay and the track. but the transmitter is very similar to that of the coded dc track circuit. This is normally the case when there are Motion Sensors or Crossing Predictors connected to the tracks within the same coded dc track circuit. These pulse pairs carry information not in the rate (pulse frequency) at which they are generated. it can also transmit a limited amount of information from one end of the circuit to the other by changing the frequency of the pulses. but rather in the amount of time between the pulses in the pair.

These will each be discussed separately. Receivers – Correct Reception is the Key to Safety At the opposite end of a track circuit from the energy source (the transmitter or track battery) is the track circuit’s receiver. The receivers used to detect these types of electrical 4-74 . There are also other types of track circuits whose transmitters apply either ac or dc voltages to the track. whose electronics are both capacitor-coupled. Track circuits have been constructed which use ac current (40 Hz. many modern track circuits have replaced relay coils with electronics. 100 Hz. pulsed-dc current. 60 Hz. and transformer-coupled to the tracks. or other frequencies).Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits This is the case for Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors. the relay acts as the “receiver” for a dc track circuit. Robinson’s original 1872 track circuit patent describes a circuit that uses the coil of a relay (the “track relay”) to detect the energy supplied by the battery connected to the rails at the opposite end of the track circuit. This is especially true when we expand our discussion to include those that do not use steady dc currents supplied more-or-less directly from a battery/rectifier. Figure 4-61 Typical Instrument Case Containing Shelf Mounted Vital Relays Although this is still a very common type of track circuit. In effect. and even ac current with specific Amplitude Modulation or Frequency Modulation impressed upon it. as each specific type of equipment is introduced.

except circuits for roadway equipment of intermittent automatic train stop system. Figure 4-62 Typical Instrument Case Containing Plug-in Vital Relays In order to discuss the characteristics of many railroad signal system components. All control circuits the functioning of which affects safety of train operation shall be designed on the closed circuit principle. if a vital circuit fails to operate correctly. Simply put. We will refine these concepts later. and any failure (including the power supply) will cause the circuit to put the system in its safest possible state. If a circuit is “vital” to safety. the gate mechanisms used at grade crossings are designed so that they require a very small current at all times to keep the gates vertical. Should this current be interrupted. This concept is also called the “normally-energized” principle. With this rule we can extend our definition of vital to include the term: “closed circuit principle”.5: 236. as we discuss how they apply to each particular piece of signaling equipment. detector/demodulator sections.5 Design of control circuits on closed circuit principle. For example. a vital circuit is one designed to be “fail-safe”. Or to put it a bit more morbidly. The first of these terms is: “vital”. This means that the circuit is normally energized. we will need to introduce a few terms here. the specific design of the energy-detection device (the receiver) is driven by the characteristics of the electrical energy placed on the tracks by the track circuit’s transmitter. threshold comparators. preferring instead to write things like rule 236. The FRA doesn’t necessarily use the term vital. someone may die. in the railroad sense. But. always has something to do with safety. then it’s referred to as a vital circuit.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits signals employ tuned filters. a 4-75 . in all cases. and even Digital Signal Processing techniques. Vitality.

5. Audio-Frequency Overlay. pulsed-dc. and hence. That is. have many features designed to ensure proper operation. The receiver should not respond unsafely to the presence of any other electrical signals coming from the track. polarity. For example. Since much of the safety and “fail-safe” characteristics of a track circuit depend on correctly interpreting the electrical signals received from the track. such as those used in ac. modulation. The receiver should only accept (and respond permissively to) an input signal of the correct frequency. Self-testing of the receiver must occur often enough to allow for detection of internal failures before that particular failure could appreciably affect the overall safety of the system. whether they are simple relays. Even though there is a wide variety of track circuit types.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits small ratcheting latch assembly known as a “hold clear” will release. all vital relays have armatures that are designed to “drop-away” to their de-energized position by gravity alone. must also be designed this way. one thing remains nearly constant for all track circuits. In the case of electronic track circuit receivers. it should come as no surprise that a great deal of effort goes into the design of the receiver. etc. the receiver must be capable of testing itself during normal operations. and the gate will descend slowly to its horizontal position by gravity alone. as in item 3. while the other is usually made of silverimpregnated carbon. 4. the occupancy of the track is almost always determined from the amplitude of the received signal. Furthermore. then the system must “fail-safe” and take action to protect the safety of train operations and the safety of the public. A track circuit receiver must never misinterpret the electrical signals that they get from the track in such a way as to cause the railroad signal system to permit an unsafe condition. a wide variety of track circuit receiver designs. More complicated receivers. Track circuit receivers. in order to prevent welding of the contacts should an excessive current be passed through them. constructed using components which are not intrinsically vital in and of themselves. or Predictor circuits. 4-76 . 3. Generally. above. 2. pulse-width. code. If conditions are detected which could prevent the receiver from being able to correctly receive and process the signal that the receiver was designed to process. and any internal failures detected must initiate a “fail-safe” action. and usually made of silver. or something more complex. these take one or more of the following forms: 1. the simplest of track circuit receivers. This particular contact design makes sure that when a relay is de-energized. phase. amplitude. the contacts may experience extreme heating. its armature will always be able to move to the de-energized position. the contacts on most railroad relays (and all relays used for “vital” functions) are constructed of dissimilar materials. One contact is metallic. Motion Sensor. timing. During an over-current condition. have many design features included specifically to prevent certain failure modes from occurring. Railroad track relays. although some railroad vital relays have springs in them to increase their speed of operation. but no fusion can occur between the metallic and non-metallic contacts.

One of the underlying principles of the railroad signal system is that it is “single-fault tolerant”. and closes others. When the outputs differ significantly. and the signal system or component initiated a fail-safe action. or system component. When it doesn’t. That is. compatibility with other existing equipment. let’s examine the output of the track circuit. The coil of the relay acts to convert the received current into magnetic flux. but this concern must always be balanced with others. drawing the armature of the relay towards the coil. and increased maintenance costs. Unfortunately. In contrast. fails to operate correctly and that failure does not initiate a fail-safe action. any single failure which could affect the safety of the system must initiate a fail-safe action. This opens a contact or contacts. In the case of a track relay. the signal system is not required to be able to handle multiple failures that occur simultaneously. and by incorporating specific measures to prevent all known sources of wrong-side failures. and the receiver of a track circuit. This results in false activations of grade crossing warning systems. The outputs of the channels are continually compared to confirm agreement. then a failure has been detected. However. with the following exceptions.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits A functioning signal system normally complies with the five requirements above. A wrong-side failure is said to have occurred whenever a railroad signal system. the output is integrated into the receiver. a “right-side failure” is said to have occurred whenever a failure was automatically detected. the receiver (a track relay) achieves its vitality by having as little complexity as possible. lost revenue. this is called a “wrong-side failure”. Any device which exhibits wrong-side failure modes cannot be considered vital. and economics. The output of a relay is just the relay contacts themselves. Signal equipment manufacturers are continuously trying to make their equipment more immune to this interference. fail-safe action consists of declaring the presence of a train even when there isn’t one. which when connected to a source of energy such as a battery can control a 4-77 . and wayside signals falsely indicating “STOP” for the train traffic. including human safety. external interference such as that from ac power lines can sometimes rise to levels that initiate right-side failures. and the system must take fail-safe action. These right-side failures result in lost time. Most other track circuit receivers rely on other methods to achieve vitality such as the use of multiple independent signal processing channels. Our purpose in this handbook is to help the reader understand the current realities of ac interference as they apply to railroad signaling. The Output of the Track Circuit Now that we have looked at the source of energy (transmitter). The ideal track circuit receiver would have no wrong-side failure modes. even though it is not strictly required by FRA rules. and would never initiate a right-side fail-safe action unnecessarily. but are far preferable to the wrong-side failures which can cost human lives and millions of dollars. In general. Most railroad signal equipment also has some degree of multiple-fault tolerance. In simple dc track circuits. transmission line (track). and provide the means to improve the situation.

frequency. The various characteristics of the signal received from the transmitter. For audio-frequency track circuits. the output indicates whether the crossing warning devices should be activated or not. If it is below the threshold. If the received signal level is above the threshold. and wayside signal lights. these outputs must also be vital. And like all other parts of a vital signal system. the output indicates track occupancy (and integrity). as the diodes in these circuits can potentially rectify induced ac and falsely energize the relay coil connected to the relay-drive output. Crossing Predictor. the output will consist of 12 Volts dc. the essential nature of each output remains the same. may be individually measured. This is done with a simple threshold determination.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits wide variety of other devices and circuits including other relays. phase. More sophisticated receivers of track circuit energy. with enough current available to drive the coil (usually 500 Ohms) of a standard signaling relay. (This will determine whether or not the crossing’s warning devices should be activated. amplification. Shunting In Robinson’s track circuit. just as the output of a relay does. Ultimately our analysis of a track relay as a track circuit receiver ends in a very simple conclusion. That is. modulation. the track circuit is considered to be unoccupied. track switches. these devices can do some extensive signal processing. such as those in Motion Sensors. the track circuit is occupied (or possibly damaged). Aside from the usual filtering. This short-circuiting action is termed “shunting”. or audio-frequency track circuit will generally be in the form of a vital relay drive output. just as the coil of an ordinary track relay is. because shunting of the track circuit by 4-78 . These discrete measurements can then be combined mathematically to determine what the state of the output should be. the electromagnetic field strengths necessary to produce this effect are extremely rare. These up and down descriptions come from the positions of the gravity-actuated armatures of railroad relays. Crossing Predictors. However. crossing warning devices.) The actual output of a Motion Sensor. detection. and other operations that extract the desired signal from the mixture of electrical signals on the track. Even though these devices are more sophisticated. This output is normally energized when the track circuit is un-occupied. For Motion Sensors and Predictors. occupancy of the track by a train results in a short-circuiting of the energy being fed to the Receiver (Track Relay). A track relay’s basic function is to determine whether or not the track is occupied. containing a single bit of information. The presence of ac interference is of greater concern where electronic relay-drive outputs are used. Robinson’s track circuit was revolutionary. can do a much more detailed analysis of the received signal. Therefore the output of a relay is essentially binary. etc. Each track circuit output provides the signal system with just one bit of information. such as amplitude. and may have more than one output. and some audio-frequency track circuits. The track relay is either energized (“up”) or de-energized (“down”).

and generally quite reliable. 14 The drop-away value is the maximum current at which the armature is guaranteed to move to the de-energized position. and always a matter of percentages. Under ordinary circumstances. Figure 4-63 Shunting of the Track Circuit The degree to which a train or shunt is consistently able to shunt current away from the track circuit receiver is called “shunting performance”.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits each axle of the train was essentially automatic when the train entered the circuit. Shunting performance is never black-andwhite. 4-79 . the residual current flowing through the coil of the track relay while a track is shunted is a very small percentage of the track relay’s “drop-away” value14. In any real-world situation the shunt presented by a train never completely deprives the track relay of current.

15 The terms “front” and “back” are used to refer to the contacts of the relay which are touched by the armature contacts in the “energized” and “de-energized” positions. and “front” are essentially equivalent.) The armature contacts are referred to as the “heel” contacts. these factors can lead to the build-up of an insulating film that is not readily punctured. “up”. or the rate of contamination or corrosion is unusually high. the track relay will be observed to pick-up and then drop again as traction power is removed and applied by the train operator. In severe cases. creating a dangerous false-proceed condition (also known as a “false clear”). “energized”. 4-80 . the propulsion current returned through the wheels and into the rails is acting as a “wetting” or “whetting” current (see below). respectively. de-energized/down/back. In this context. however. (Think: energized/up/front. Shunting difficulties are usually observed in areas where either the rate of railhead wear is unusually low. This effect can be readily seen on electrified railways when trains coast without drawing significant amounts of propulsion current. a poorly shunting train may fail to reduce the level of 15 received current below the value necessary to open the track relay’s front contacts . In this case.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-64 Shunting Efficiency of Track Circuit Given unfavorable conditions. Despite the very high contact pressures at the wheel-rail interface.

But when the throttle is retarded. but can also result from local industrial emissions. then the shunting performance of the train will rely on other axles in the track circuit to provide the needed shunt.06-Ohm shunt or less. Local environmental conditions which are unusually corrosive: These increase the corrosion (rusting) rate of the steel rails. which reduces friction. • • • • • • • 4-81 .g. and can allow a complex mixture of contaminants to accumulate. but also reduces the number of axles placed in parallel across the track circuit.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits But these same symptoms can also be induced on diesel-electric railroads by purely mechanical means. The older soft-iron brake shoes tended to clean most contaminants from the tread of the wheels. The use of modern composite brake shoes (which replaced the earlier soft-iron brake shoes): Composite brake shoes use a binding agent that can sometimes coat the tread of the wheels. usually less than 8-12 tons per axle: This can help minimize the wear rate at the wheel/rail interface. the wheels may begin to “ride up” onto the film without rupturing it. Often this is all that is needed to rupture the insulating film on the railheads. leaves. and therefore minimizes the amount of clean. Light axle loads. but many of them are well known. Better maintenance of wheel-rail profiles: This tends to reduce the amount of wear at the wheel/rail interface. If conditions prevent an axle in the track circuit from providing a 0. which allows the axles of the train to shunt properly. Some of these include: • • • Sand. rust is still usually a primary ingredient in the mix. The use of track circuits having low rail-rail voltages: This minimizes the voltage available to “punch through” the insulating or semi-conductive films on the railheads. spilled loads. it is this flanging contact that has historically been a component of the shunting performance of trains in track circuits. rust. accelerating away from a stop). Short trains having fewer axles: This factor has a dual effect. This can prevent the wheels and axles of the train from shunting properly. conductive steel exposed on both the rails and wheels. Unfortunately. allowing the train to coast. or other insulating contaminants: These can form insulating films on the railhead. in that it both minimizes the wear rate at the wheel/rail interface. and can cause the track relay to pick up even though the track circuit is actually occupied. Absence of propulsion return current through the track: This acts as a “wetting” current (see above). This is often a problem in coastal areas. the shear forces present in the contact patches between the wheels and rails can cause a small amount of slip. The contributing factors to a case of poor shunting can vary widely. However. For example: under a heavy tractive effort (e. Radial steering trucks on the trains: These reduce the mechanically-undesirable flange contact with gage faces of the rail on tangent (straight) track. Infrequent train traffic: This reduces the wear rate on the railheads.

This difficulty was overcome by adding a small dc “wetting” current. This is because resolving an ac interference problem that formerly raised the rail-to-rail voltages on the track may reveal an underlying problem with shunting. in some cases. This was due to the effects of localized resistance on the mating faces of contacts and the spurious rectification that could occur at junctions of dissimilar metals or their oxides. Another technique for improving shunting performance was borrowed from the telecommunications field. stainless steel weld beads are sometimes applied to the top of the railhead. Remotely-controlled track switches and special braking mechanisms control the movement of the car as it is routed towards the end of the train to which it will be added.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits • The presence of grease on the railhead or wheels: Automatically applied rail grease. however. A hump yard is a type of railroad switching yard that is built on a slope. However. The use of thin copper strips pressed into shallow longitudinal groves cut into the railhead has also proven successful in “hump yards”17. the low-level ac signal carrying the audio information (a telephone conversation) is superimposed on a steady dc signal used for control purposes (onhook/off-hook). Remedies for Poor Shunting The vast majority of track circuits function properly with virtually no attention or adjustment required after their initial set-up during installation. especially in heavy-tonnage territory. and greatly reduces line noise in exchange for the burden of only a few milliamps per subscriber line Today. In this way. where rusty or greasy rail creates a chronic poorshunting problem. Some track circuits. Cars are moved to the top of the slope (hump) and released. experience chronic shunting problems. and is usually is much more a result of the conditions on the tracks. 16 The Association of American Railroads conducted a study in the 1990’s which showed no significant positive correlation between the use of rail lubricators and the occurrence of shunting problems within the island track circuits at grade crossings with a history of shunting problems. the wetting-current concept has been applied to a variety of track circuits where satisfactory shunting has been hard to achieve. The telephone industry recognized early-on that electrical circuits carrying very small signals were often unreliable. Limitations inherent to the type of track circuit. actually have a beneficial effect in providing a wetting current which improves shunting performance. does 16 not by itself appear to be a problem . These techniques cannot be applied to mainline trackage due to their cost and adverse effect on the rail life. On low-speed or seldom used trackage. This dc signal therefore provides all of the power necessary to operate the subscriber’s telephone instrument. 17 4-82 . Differential (rail-to-rail) voltages caused by induction from utility lines may. it may act as a binding agent for other substances that have a more adverse effect on shunting. often used to lubricate the flanges of the wheels. This is rarely the fault of the track circuit hardware itself. • It is important to mention poor shunting in a discussion of EMC issues involving ac power lines and railroad signal circuits. after which they are allowed to roll downhill. before or as they pass around sharp curves.

95 Volts were usually employed.5 Vdc.S. In this section. As the name implies. Combined with the proper time delay. in the form of older equipment that is still in operation. TCA current circulating through the wheel sets provides a “wetting” action that breaks down the insulating wheel-rail film. An earlier and somewhat simpler implementation of TCAID is the use of treadle wheel detectors to knock-down the track circuit as a train enters the circuit. since their high internal resistance prevented excessive current flow while the train occupied the track circuit. Following a serious accident in Palmer. At 165 KHz. Decomposing crushed leaves can form a tough crust on top of the rails that cannot be brokendown by the TCA. Copper-zinc wet-cell primary batteries with open circuit voltages of 0. providing roughly 0.A. This is essentially a mechanical means of detecting the presence of the train.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Another version of this idea is the Track Circuit Assister (TCA).to 25ohm range. These cells could be hooked up directly to the rails. which then shunts the track circuit for a period of time. this scheme is highly effective at preventing loss-of-shunt episodes. the TCA signal is usually far above the frequency range of any track circuit and therefore does not interfere with most wayside track circuit equipment. the TCA loop mounted between axles on each truck induces a substantial railrail voltage beneath the train. Track Circuit Assister Interference Detector (TCAID) has been installed. Railroad Track Circuits – One at a Time Much of the history of railroad signaling is still with us. TCAID is a wayside element that senses the presence of the TCA signal and independently shunts the track circuit. Later ‘high voltage’ cells provided open circuit voltage of up to 1. during the 1950s to improve the shunting performance of lightweight trains using a similar on-board signal injection technique. 4-83 . forcing an indication of track occupancy. Massachusetts. Generating a roughly 165 KHz signal. a number of cars were fitted with axle-mounted transformers that induced a circulating current into the wheelsets and the rail beneath them. The primary application of TCAID is in situations where the railroad is unable to remove deciduous trees that are in close proximity to the track. For areas where leaves are a seasonal problem. Steady Energy DC Track Circuits Early dc track circuits employed DC Neutral Vital Relays with coil resistances in the 1. which was attributed to a stopped train resting on rails whose heads were coated with a layer of sand. The development of the TCA follows early efforts in the U.6-0. This scheme is widely used in Europe. TCAID receivers are typically installed at 200-meter intervals along the track. which has been used in the UK since the early 1990s to counter the effects of poor shunting performance.8 Volts under load at the beginning of their lifetime. This scheme proved only partially effective. we’ll take a look at each type of equipment still commonly in use in greater detail.

As this release ratio declined over time. Relays exhibiting low drop-away values due to residual magnetism must have their cores re-annealed if they are to be returned to service. For this reason. Modern dc track relays have release ratios in the range of 65-85%. pole pieces. This required a large change in the coil current (caused by the train on the track) in order to de-energize the relay. This testing is necessary to detect diminished drop-away values caused by magnetic aging and other defects such as worn stop pins. and armatures. a standard (0. Early dc track relays of this type typically required shop overhaul after only two to four years of service. a false proceed condition will exist if the track relay fails to drop when the corresponding section of track is occupied by a train.106c).000’ to 5. the residual magnetism present increased over time. A major problem for the relays was poor Release Ratio. which further degraded the release ratio. Under these circumstances. the FRA requires that relays with soft-iron magnetic structures have their operating characteristics tested at least once every two years (FRA Rule 236. This has resulted in a magnetically “harder” structure. thus the maximum operable length of a track circuit was limited to somewhere in the 3.06-ohms) test shunt placed across the track circuit might no longer be sufficient to release the track relay.000’ range. The drop-away current was typically only 30-40% of the pick-up value. Because these relays employed soft-iron magnetic cores. 4-84 . most railroads have phased these soft-iron relays out at every opportunity. The magnetic aging problem of the soft-iron cores was largely eliminated with the adoption of 3-4% silicon steel for magnetic circuit materials beginning in the mid-1920s. which is the ratio between the track relay’s drop-away and pick-up current values. Old relays might have a release ratio of 25% or less. For this reason. and require testing only once every four years.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-65 Elementary Steady Energy DC Track Circuit Early track relays had relatively poor and unstable operating characteristics.

The dc track circuit continues to be widely used for short-to-medium range track circuits in nonelectrified (no electric trains) territory. Another way to construct a dc track circuit is to connect the battery to the rails in the center of the track circuit. better rail bonding. However. so that dc current of the wrong polarity cannot falsely pick-up the relay. the dc track relays used today are usually magnetically biased (Biased-Neutral DC Relays). Additionally. Center-fed track circuits have several handicaps. new installations of the center-fed dc track circuit have all but ceased. Center-fed dc track circuits up to 15.000 feet are possible using modern 0. and various improvements in relay design. which could energize the relays in two adjacent track circuits if both joints separating them failed.5-ohm track relays having high release ratios. more stable feed-end voltages. This handicap has been compensated for by a rigorous mathematical analysis of the track circuit parameters. Track circuit lengths up to 6000 feet are feasible without special consideration.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Unfortunately. Figure 4-66 Center-Fed DC Track Circuit 4-85 . the permeability of silicon steel is somewhat less than that of soft iron. Provided that no foreign dc current is present. With the advent of electronic track circuits offering bi-directional communications capability via the track. including an inherent difficulty in detecting broken rails near the center of the circuit. because other more-reliable options now exist. and place a relay at each end. This improves the degree of protection from multiple failed insulated joints. With the exception of alternating the battery polarity on each successive track circuit. simple dc track circuits longer than 6000 feet are generally not recommended.000 feet in length have been widely used. maximum operable lengths of up to 18. the rest of the circuitry remains the same with this type of relay. The contacts of the relays are then wired in series with one another to produce the occupancy indication. resulting in a slight sacrifice in other aspects of the track relay’s performance.

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Polarized DC Track Circuits A significant variant of the steady energy dc track circuit is the polarized dc track circuit. or even vital radio-based equipment. Later. signal control information is transmitted via the rails. The most common signal practice used to be to transmit this information via the “linewires” running parallel to the tracks. the aspect displayed depends not only on the occupancy of the block ahead. yellow. but the block beyond it is occupied The next block ahead is occupied Signal Color Displayed Green Yellow Red The key to the transfer of information is that a wayside signal which receives no voltage (occupied block) on one side of the insulated joints will be Red for trains approaching that block. This means that the occupancy information from a distant block must be transmitted at least the length of one block to the logic circuits controlling the wayside signal. Later. polarized track circuits employed back-to-back biased-neutral track relays. The other armature was responsive to polarity (usually by means of permanent magnets). In a simple 3-aspect signal system (one using red. Because the polarized dc track circuit has several limitations. its usage is dwindling. so that the preceding signal will turn yellow. These are the often-misidentified “telegraph lines” strung on wooden poles next to the tracks. and green wayside signals). One armature operated contacts that closed whenever current of either polarity flowed through the coils. and its contacts moved in one direction or the other depending upon the polarity of the energy applied to the coils. a determination can be made regarding the correct color for the signal lights on the adjacent blocks. these open linewires were replaced by overhead cable. Chief among these is the additional equipment required to provide signals for trains running in either direction 4-86 . which still simultaneously serves as the means of train detection. Here’s how it works: Table 4-1 Signal Aspect (Color) Displayed for Polarized DC Track Circuits Polarity of Track Voltage Received “Positive” “Negative” No Voltage (track shunted) Meaning The next block ahead is unoccupied. The advantage of using a polarized dc track circuit is that it can eliminate the need for at least some of these linewires or cables. underground cable. Furthermore. Early polarized dc track circuits used polarity-responsive dc track relays having two armatures. and the block beyond it is also unoccupied The next block ahead is unoccupied. By encoding the occupancy information of a block into the polarity of the dc voltages applied to the rails of the blocks on either side of an occupied block. but also on the occupancy of the block beyond it. In this way. this signal will change the polarity of the track circuit voltage transmitted towards the preceding signal.

4-87 . Coded DC Track Circuits Introduced in the 1930s. Using slow-release relays or tuned L-C circuit decoders. Another limitation is an inherent difficulty in detecting multiple insulated joint failures. Figure 4-67 Polarized DC Track Circuits for Transmission of Signal Control Information via the Rails A later improvement to the polarized dc track relay was the addition of retaining coils (Retained-Neutral Polarized Relay). and the duty cycle is nominally 50%.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits (bi-directional signaling). At the receive end of the circuit. In a coded track circuit. permitting the neutral front contacts to remain closed during a polarity change. which behaves the same as the track relay for a steady-energy dc track circuit. This feature prevented colorlight wayside signals from momentarily turning red during a yellow-to-green transition. the continuous transmission of code is detected and translated. This action maintains closure of the front contacts of a track repeater relay. the coded dc track circuit offered many advantages over the simpler steady-energy dc type and other track circuits that were available at the time. The code rate is typically 75. 120 or 180 pulses-per-minute. a code-following track relay repeats the code pattern. voltage is intermittently applied at the feed-end of the circuit.

Figure 4-68 Elementary Coded DC Track Circuit Foremost among the advantages of the coded track circuit is that the release ratio of the track relay effectively approaches 100%. geomagnetic currents. should the code-following track relay be held steady in its energized position by a foreign current. improved shunting sensitivity. high-voltage dc transmission lines. the presence of a shunt anywhere within the track circuit reduces the current received by the track relay. the train’s shunt need only reduce the amount of current flowing through the relay’s coils to something less than the pick-up value of the track relay.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits As with any other track circuit. and greater assurance of broken-rail detection. This is an ideal yet unobtainable value when using ordinary neutral dc track relays. Coded dc track circuits typically have a maximum operable length in the 7. Typical sources of foreign dc energy include electrified railroads using dc-propulsion current. galvanic action due to ballast contamination. and deenergized positions when the track is unoccupied. mines. and many other similar sources. causing the track to be declared “occupied”.000’ range. The shunt does not need to reduce the residual current to less than the code-following track relay’s minimum drop-away current as it does with a convention track circuit. which de-energizes the track repeater relay in the same manner as if the track circuit were 4-88 . cathodic pipeline protection systems.000’ to 15. So how is this possible? As the code-following track relay is continuously cycling between its energized. This feature permits much longer track circuits. as there is a danger of falsely energizing ordinary dc track relays in areas where foreign dc currents may be present. although signal equipment manufacturers are always trying to improve upon this. Using modulated or coded energy also greatly improves the security of the track circuit. industrial plants. In the case of coded dc track circuits. this will still cause the decoding circuit to turn off its output.

being made of as few as 13 turns. Because the track relay’s coil has such a low inductance and resistance. and are even more susceptible to surge events from ac power lines. Because of the harmonic content present in the pulses from the code-transmitting relay. With the advent of coded dc track circuits. Regardless of the type of track circuit used. the coded circuit will often prove workable where steady energy circuits do not function satisfactorily. the windings are sometimes susceptible to damage caused by lightning strikes. steady energy dc track circuit. Some track relays have resonating windings to suppress 60 Hz interference. the electromechanically-coded dc track circuit had evolved into a complex. Although new installations of this type ceased by the early 1980s. And because the armature has a very small mass. Although coded dc track circuits are sensitive to foreign dc energy. the sensitivity of the code-following track relay used must be very high. the battery action of the track itself is an important factor that limits the maximum operable track circuit length. Alternatively. and ballast materials being in contact with the rails are the leading contributors to TSE. new investigations into track circuit parameters uncovered the phenomenon of track storage effect (TSE). and continuously moving parts that has prevented the coded dc track circuit from achieving dominance over the simple. Because coded track circuits operate over very long lengths of track. it had been observed in ordinary dc track circuits that under the right track conditions. For coded track circuits. low-cost. The coil of a typical code-following track relay has a resistance of only 0. By 1945. Together. Previously. this means that the resistance of the track relay’s coil must be minimized. the track relay would remain in its energized position for several seconds after the feed-end energy was removed.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits occupied by a train. appropriate filters must often be used to prevent interference with Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors installed on the same tracks as coded dc track circuits. thousands of miles of rate-coded dc track remain in service today throughout North America. sensitive. The first and most widely used type 4-89 . these actions mimic the behavior of a weak storage cell. a code following track relay can usually respond to 60 Hz ac interference. as opposed to the voltage domain. railroad tracks are generally inefficient transmission lines. the most sensitive of any class of track circuit. It is this multiplicity of expensive. with the rails serving as the plates of both. The effect of these filters is to “low-pass” the pulses and round off their corners. bidirectional signal system that eliminated the need for line wires. Contaminated ballast.3 ohms and a pick-up current of 410 milliamperes. Analysis showed that wet and dirty track ballast tended to behave as both a polarized capacitor and a galvanic cell. Trakode The cost and complexity of rate-coded dc track circuits prompted the development of so-called “slow-code” track circuit in the early 1950s. As track circuits work primarily in the current domain. sometimes the operating frequencies of the Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors are changed in an attempt to move away from the bulk of the harmonic content.

Because the underlying dc track circuit provides the needed shunt and broken rail detection. in that detection of a shunt (train on the track circuit) could take as long as three seconds. Track circuit lengths up to 15.R. signal control intelligence may be transmitted via the tracks.S. However. thus eliminating the need for line wires. Substantial amounts of PMTC equipment is still in service. However.S. a microprocessor-based system that was compatible with the earlier relay-based systems. As with other coded dc track circuits.000 feet have been successfully used.). train detection is done using ordinary center-fed dc track circuits. the slow code rates used by this system had a drawback. This form of track circuit utilizes brief pulses of about 250 milliseconds duration transmitted at roughly two-second intervals (either 33 or 29 pulses per minute). One circuit was reportedly stretched to 35. in 1982. vital) circuitry. In larger installations of this type. The slow code rate and alternating polarity of Trakode pulses helps to overcome the track storage effect. or PMTC.000 feet during winter months when the frozen ground created unusually high ballast resistance conditions. As one of the earlier audio-frequency track circuits. or transmitting pulse pairs of opposite polarity..e. was introduced by G. it was more susceptible to ac interference than some later track circuits. 4-90 . and has been out of production for some time. now a part of Alstom Signaling Inc. permitting substantially longer circuits. Trakode II. but failed to win a substantial market share. the overlaid audio frequency signals can be transmitted and decoded without complex (i. Decoding circuitry is relatively simple.R.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits was manufactured by the General Railway Signal Corporation (G. The PMTC superimposes audio-frequency tone bursts that transmit signal control information (on top of the dc energy) down the rails. by Marquardt corporation (later part of Safetran Systems Corporation) in the mid-1960s. the varying impedance presented to the track by the transmitter circuit requires the addition of isolation inductors or filters where Crossing Predictors or Motion Sensors are used. and was called Trakode. PMTC (Pulse-Modulated Track Circuit) The era of electronic track circuits began with introduction of the Pulse-Modulated Track Circuit. this system is now considered obsolete. Recurring difficulty with burned or welded code pulse transmitter contacts and susceptibility to 60-Hz ac interference has led to its replacement by electronic track circuits in many areas. Trakode was widely installed throughout the 1960s and 1970s. inexpensive and not dependent on the variable timing characteristics of relays. By inverting the polarity of impulses.

180. 120. and its receiver is polarity-sensitive. and the maximum operable track circuit length is roughly 15.000 feet. The timing of the dc pulse pairs used by Electro Code closely resemble the 75. Electro Code can control up to five signal aspects. The amount of information that can be encoded into the pulses transmitted along the rails is significantly higher than that of earlier systems. each of which consists of one bit of information.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-69 Typical Electronic Track Circuit Electro Code Electro Code is presently the most widely used family of electronic track circuits used in North America. As with its predecessors. All of the inputs. Since the Electro Code receiver uses pulses of only one polarity. the 112-millisecond pulse can be significantly distorted. are contained in one chassis. All electrical power to the chassis is provided from a single 12-Volt dc source. At roughly $500 apiece. outputs. Its originated with an effort in the late 1970s by a Midwestern railroad to replace troublesome components in their rate-coded dc track circuits. In its standard form. Due to track storage effect. and has become a de-facto standard. and 270 pulse-per-minute code rates found in earlier coded dc track circuits. and logic functions needed to control bidirectional ABS signals. This helps prevent wrong-side failures as a result of a pair of failed insulated joints. The messages transmitted (the state of the corresponding outputs) are a combination of both “vital” and “non-vital” bits. the railroads view this cost savings as significant. the polarity is usually alternated at every set of insulated joints. with several such vital relays at each signal location. Later versions of Electro Code have also eliminated the need for external vital relays for signal lighting. Electro Code applies a series of single-polarity dc pulses to the track. self-contained Automatic Block Signaling (ABS) “system in-a-box”. 4-91 . and one non-vital auxiliary function. The Electro Code II system was the first complete.

and 4 Electrified Electro Code In order to extend the use of Electro Code to electrified railroads. The Electrified Electro Code unit converts each pulse from the Electro Code transmitter into a burst of an audio carrier at 156 Hz. Later versions also included additional built-in filtering.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The basic Electro Code track circuit has now been integrated into solid-state processor interlocking systems such as Microlok II and Electro Code 5. and do so as directed by the Electro Code unit. the Electrified Electro Code unit performs A. Similarly.M. which significantly increased the level of ac interference which the system could withstand. turning them back into dc pulses that are then passed to the Electro Code receiver. detection on the bursts of 156 Hz energy from the track. Figure 4-70 Pulse Timing of Electro Code II. an add-on unit was developed which was inserted between the track and an Electro Code unit. 3. 4-92 . Electrified Electro Code units also have the capability to generate and transmit the 100 Hz and 250 Hz carriers used for cab signaling.

the Microtrax track repeater bit (functionally equivalent to the track relay) is sustained (held up) until two consecutive messages have been missed or rejected as invalid. Figure 4-71 Microtrax Modulation Pattern 4-93 . or 20 aspects and no auxiliary functions. the minimum shunt recognition time is slightly over six seconds. which can be an important characteristic where Crossing Predictors or Motion Sensors are used. Track circuits that are double this length have been successfully operated in arid regions of Australia. by placing additional inductance in the track leads. two consecutive 6-second message cycles must be successfully received.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Microtrax Initially introduced by Union Switch and Signal (U. the pick-up delay is between 12 and 18 seconds. The Microtrax circuit is designed to operate with track circuits up to 22.S. depending on when the first axle enters the track circuit with respect to the timing of the code cycle. The bandwidth of the Microtrax receiver is very narrow. To overcome track storage effect. depending on when the last axle vacates the circuit. Microtrax can control five signal aspects and two vital auxiliary functions.000 feet in length with 3-ohm ballast. To prevent spurious false occupancy indications. a redesigned product.&S) as Microcode in the early 1980s. may be about 11 seconds. Microtrax provides continuous transmission of vital data equal to four simultaneous line circuits or bits. consisting of 10 aspects and 1 auxiliary function. Microtrax. and under worst-case circumstances. A limitation shared by all coded track circuits is the added time delay in recognizing the shunting or un-shunting of the track. input impedance at 150 Hz is on the order of 10 ohms and may be boosted. therefore. Microcode and Microtrax employ a bi-polar pulse train that is essentially a 20 Hz ac waveform. This makes it much slower than a simple dc track circuit. The Microtrax unit presents a stable impedance across the track. On this basis. became available in 1995. The message transmitted between the track circuit ends is modulated using a NRZ (non-returnto-zero) code with guard transitions at the beginning and ending of each code cycle. where necessary. To pick-up the track circuit (declare it unoccupied). Protection against insulated joint failures is provided by examining the sequence of plus and minus pulses.

as it reflects a series of evolutionary changes made over a period of many decades. track circuits of 45. the ac track circuit remains a sophisticated and evolving technology. this has not prevented the development of a wide variety of ac signaling systems. which is significant at frequencies even as low as 20-25 Hz.000 feet in length are now in regular service on lines in remote. arid regions of western Australia. even though this term is now normally used only to refer specifically to track circuits using power-line frequencies. Rail impedance. allowing the introduction of essentially loss-less attenuators into the circuit. 4-94 . dc track circuits have several limitations that preclude their use in all cases. track storage effect and a susceptibility to foreign dc current are important considerations. and offered a workable solution to these problems. inexpensive. AC track circuits were first introduced around 1904. Using a train detection carrier frequency of approximately 20 Hz and cab signaling carrier of 40 Hz. thus. AC signals of differing carrier frequencies and modulation patterns may be selectively filtered using tuned circuits. With correctly proportioned transmitter levels and receiver sensitivities. ac track circuits are more susceptible than the most basic dc track circuits. and the Impedance Bonds that must be installed in electrified tracks. AC signals may be compared against a phase reference to determine their instantaneous polarity (phase).Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits AC Track Circuits – In General Although they are simple and reliable. Additionally. increased transmission losses in the track do not necessarily require correspondingly higher amounts of power. reliable component (a transformer) is one obvious example. Inductors or capacitors may be used for current-limiting purposes. Perhaps the most unfortunate result of this history is that each new development was named in the most general way for the advance that it represented. In terms of their susceptibility to ac interference. but vary widely in their susceptibility as a function of their specific design. Although the impedance of the track is higher for all ac frequencies than it is for dc energy. all track circuits were dc track circuits. The use of ac energy to operate track circuits was once a novelty. AC track circuits posses several unique characteristics that are readily exploited for significant technical and economic advantage. and normally have fast response times. In the beginning. Fortunately. AC signals may be inductively coupled to or from the rails with iron or air-core transformers. and can thereby detect subtle differences in the circuit impedance. Classic AC Track Circuits The nomenclature used for railroad track circuits can be confusing. we are left with generic terms like: “AC Track Circuits”. track circuits can be successfully operated at all frequencies from dc up to 25 KHz or higher. The most common contraindication is the use of electric propulsion for trains. can be used to limit the effective range of audio-frequency track circuits without the necessity of insulated joints. The ability to readily step-up or step-down voltages with a simple. Today. AC track circuits with the capacity to quickly transmit digital data to moving trains are at the forefront of contemporary track circuit development.

these were all developed well after the original “AC Track Circuit”. gravity acting on the armature or vane would return the mechanism to its de-energized position. and other design features commonly found in dc track relays incorporated to ensure stable and reliable operation.O. Cab Signals.C.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Although A. which simply detect the presence of a train on a section of track in a vital fashion. an upward movement of the vane closed the front contacts.F. from both a technical and a commercial standpoint. developers then proceeded to explore the possibility of using alternating current for train detection purposes in dc electrified territory. using alternating current that is usually derived quite directly from an electric utility. In this section. “frictionless” trunnion bearings. Attempts to use dc track circuits on electrified railways using dc propulsion systems were unsuccessful from the outset.’s. and the signaling system. It may also be observed that the development of ac track circuits was an early step forward in the field of EMC. When current to the coil was cut off. 4-95 . The same non-welding contacts. This type of relay has a moving aluminum or copper vane similar to a disc-type induction motor (not unlike the ones found in electric utility watt-hour meters). we will be discussing the original forms of the ac track circuit. having successfully solved a seemingly impossible compatibility problem between the dc propulsion current. As with the dc track relay. the potential for EMC problems is significant. proved to be nearly as important as the concepts in Robinson’s original track circuit. Crossing Predictors. Since the types of ac track circuits discussed here are usually operating at exactly the same frequency carried by nearby power lines.T. Using ac energy for the track circuit. rigid mechanical structure. indicating that the track circuit was unoccupied. the construction of urban and interurban electrified railways after the year 1900 coincided neatly with the development of an ac track relay in 1904. thus opening the front contacts. and several other types of track circuits (see below) all use alternating-current (ac) electrical signals to detect trains.’s.F. Fortunately. generous creepage distances. and providing a receiver (an ac vane-type track relay) that is unresponsive to any level or polarity of dc. A. Motion Sensors. Having a basic understanding of the simple dc track circuit.

The transmitter consisted of a step-down transformer. As with the dc track circuit. (See: Double-rail AC Vane-relay Track Circuits and Impedance Bonds. a train shunting the track tended to starve the track relay of the current needed to lift the vane and keep the front contacts closed. a resistor was inserted in series with the secondary of the transformer. the vane relay was not particularly efficient. Most important. Secondly. First. supplied by the ac mains. to prevent excessive current draw when the track was shunted. the ac track circuit’s transmitter was also simple. the rail impedance of the track at 60 Hz was considerably higher than its dc resistance. and consumed much more energy than its dc counterpart. some compromise would be needed in the configuration of the track circuit. lifting the vane against the force of gravity when properly energized. Shading coils were provided to create an upward torque. however. The Single-Element AC Vane Relay proved quite successful. This limited the maximum possible length of the track circuits. As with the dc track circuit.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-72 Vane Relay (Safetran Systems) The earliest ac track relay featured a single winding on a C-shaped stator that induced eddy currents into a flat aluminum vane attached to a rotating shaft. but was limited in application by several factors. Like the simple battery and resistor of the dc track circuit. was the vexing problem of inter-marrying the ac track circuit and the dc propulsion return network. with deliberately poor voltage regulation characteristics.) Double Element Vane Relays The inefficiency of the single element vane relay could not be adequately improved upon through better materials or design techniques. which was physically offset from the track 4-96 . below. Facing the inevitable reality that the rails would be used as the primary return path for propulsion current. The solution was to provide a Double Element Vane Relay having a second winding and core.

double-element type. a mechanical amplifier. The additional receiver sensitivity that became possible with the adoption of the double element vane relay and double-rail ac track circuit was a significant improvement in railroad signaling technology. The double element relay was.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits winding so that the fluxes induced into the vane were in quadrature. because the performance and maximum permissible length of a track circuit are degraded by increased rail impedance. the ac track circuit was now even being applied to tracks for steam-powered trains.000 feet in length (or more) became possible. Moreover. more sophisticated versions of ac relays were also developed. the “Track Winding” would contribute the remainder and provide the necessary offset in fluxes that generate upward torque. and have the proper phase relationship in order to produce uplifting torque on the vane. the new “Local Winding” furnished 75-90% of the energy needed to lift the vane. the improved efficiency of the double element relay now placed it in direct competition with the best dc track circuits available at the time. the track and local windings must 4-97 . in essence. Eliminating shading rings on stator polefaces. By offsetting or correcting the phase of the local current (the current in the second winding) in proportion to the phase shift of the current from the track. In addition to the use of ac track circuits for basic train detection purposes. and level detector. AC track circuits suffer at least slightly from both parts of these physical laws. typically 75% or higher. This was important. By inverting the phase of the energy applied to the feed end of the circuit. a 3-position double element vane relay was developed. plug-in. since about 1960 are of the 2-position. even if the level of current received is well above the nominal operating value. where no impedance bonds were required. workable ac track circuits of 5. Unsurprisingly. the track could be used to communicate signal control information as well as detect trains. phase-selective filter. all in one package. nearly all ac vane track relays manufactured in the U. Under normal operating conditions. Moreover. Similar to the polarized dc track relay. Phase Shifting Further improvements in ac track circuit performance were made by adding a resonating winding to the vane relay to compensate for the increasing phase shift of long track circuits.S. the current flowing through the track winding of a vane relay must be of the proper level. Improper phase will cause the relay to drop. While the attorneys battled over various track circuit installations in electrified territory. as well as by reduced ballast impedance. Centrifugal AC Relays It should be noted that although vane relays successfully met the demand for a dc-immune track relay. The double element relay proved to be as immediately successful and useful as its single element counterpart.A. the vane relay is unsuitable for use in 25 Hz ac propulsion territory because it is not frequency-selective. Double element vane relays also offer an excellent release ratio.

primarily because capacitor tolerances were poor. cannot falsely energize the track relay. This may happen if induced or conducted 25 Hz energy enters the ac signal mains. the motor produced little or no torque. The solution was a frequency-selective centrifugal track relay that cannot be falsely picked-up by any level of propulsion current. In the first installation of this kind (circa 1911). 25 Hz propulsion energy may invade both the track and local windings. the track relay will falsely pick up while the track is occupied. and components varied widely with temperature and deteriorated with age. Countermeasures such as filtering. signal system reliability dilemma used ac vane relays on a single-rail track circuit. resonant L-C techniques were tried and quickly dismissed. the centrifugal frequency relay proved serviceable and remained the standard form of track relay in ac electrified territory for over 20 years. and without regard to the utility line interference problems that would develop years later.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits be fed from the same source of ac energy. many installed in the 1930s. Early in the development of vane relay track circuits. Centrifugal relays are also provided with an anti-reverse rotation ratchet. Despite its delicate construction and continuously rotating motor. 25 Hz energy may be back-fed from the track. shielding and spatial separation of power mains have proven disadvantageous. And when the track was shunted. 4-98 . The relay was designed and adjusted so that the front contacts could not close or remain closed at less than the nominal operating speed. The last remaining centrifugal relays. use of 60 Hz for the track circuit frequency was selected for convenience. the flyball mechanism was forced outward far enough to actuate the front contacts of the relay. which can supply energy of the wrong phase. but only at a much lower speed. preventing the motor from beginning to turn opposite to its normal direction of rotation. Single-Rail Vane-Relay AC Track Circuits An early solution to the propulsion current return vs. This feature ensures that shorted insulated joints. Rather than isolating both rails at each end with insulated joints. Production of new centrifugal track relays was nil by 1960. slowing or stopping its rotation. If the motor’s track and local windings were overwhelmed by 25 Hz propulsion current. The other rail would remain unbroken. When the motor revolves at high speed. The centrifugal track relay uses a small induction motor driving an Archimedean governor on a vertical shaft. driven by 60 or 100 Hz track circuit current. Under conditions involving a broken rail or other propulsion fault. Acting in combination with the same 25 Hz energy appearing on the track relay’s track winding. are just now being retired in former Pennsylvania Railroad electrified territory. the motor might continue to turn. through the track transformer and into the track relay’s local winding. and would be heavily bonded to return the propulsion current back to the nearest substation. since any drift in frequency would cause the relay to periodically pick and drop as the two signals drifted in and out of phase with one another. until supplanted by development of the coded universal track circuit in the early 1930s. only one rail would be segmented for track circuit purposes.

Secondly. due to “run-around” paths. however. the single-rail vane-relay track circuit is the least complex. which are particularly possible in multiple track territory. the most reliable. and more importantly.000 feet. Single-rail vane-relay track circuits up to 1000 feet are preferred in dc propulsion territory on low-speed trackage where broken rail detection is not required. and offers better shunting performance. broken rails on the return-rail side of the circuit are undetectable. Longer track circuits were a problem. the voltage drop experienced by the propulsion current in the single return rail was excessive on long track circuits.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-73 Single Rail Track Circuit The single-rail track circuit proved to be workable. Single-rail ac track circuits also suffered from a safety-related shortcoming. Since the single-rail track circuit has only one-half the ballast resistance of its double-rail counterpart. and the track. and was satisfactory where the track circuit was no longer than 500 to 1. i. 4-99 . The single-rail ac track circuit consists of the same three essential elements: a transmitter (track transformer).e. a receiver (track relay). the track is much poorer as a transmission line. In comparison to other types of track circuits suitable for use in dc electrified territory. This sometimes resulted in destructive levels of propulsion current flowing through the track relay and track transformer.

4-100 . the tracks will reach a point near the propulsion substation. The center taps of the two impedance bonds are connected together with heavy-gauge cable. where the center tap(s) of the impedance bond(s) will be connected directly to the substation ground. This is done by placing a large center-tapped inductor known as an “impedance bond” at each end of every track circuit. to provide a continuous path for propulsion return currents along the rails. This special inductor has windings sturdy enough to handle the large (hundreds or thousands of Amperes) dc propulsion return currents carried by the rails. Pairs of these impedance bonds are used at each set of insulated joints. The railto-rail inductance of the impedance bond is also high enough to make it look like an open circuit at ac frequencies used in railroad signaling.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Double-Rail AC Vane-Relay Track Circuits and Impedance Bonds Double-rail track circuits are arranged to use both rails for return of the propulsion current. Eventually.

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-74 Single-Rail and Double-Rail Track Circuits 4-101 .

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-75 Double-Rail AC Vane-Relay Track Circuits Figure 4-76 Diagram of Impedance Bonds and Insulated Joints 4-102 .

at the ac track circuit frequency (usually 60 Hz). As a result. the opposing magnetic fluxes produced by two halves of the impedance bond’s winding tend to cancel each other. Adding to this was the simplicity and convenience of transmitting and distributing ac energy. The most important result of this characteristic is that the rail-to-rail impedance. This requires that the propulsion return current be carried equally by both rails. Because the currents in each rail are roughly equal. in that it minimizes the resistance of the propulsion return path. All-AC Signaling Systems With the advantages presented by ac vane relays over the previous dc relays.25 to 1. returning propulsion current flows from both rail connections into opposite ends of the impedance bond’s center-tapped inductor. raising the rail-torail impedance at a particular frequency or frequencies. because their inventors worked for opposing commercial interests. and is distributed more-or-less equally into the two rails of the next track circuit. saturation of an impedance bond caused by interfering currents can affect the operation of the double rail ac vane relay track circuit by creating a partial shunt across the track (between the rails). The marriage of the vane relay and double rail track circuit was immediately successful. this could result in unoccupied track circuits falsely appearing occupied whenever the train was accelerating.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The purpose of the impedance bonds is to make sure that the returning dc propulsion current from the train flows freely through the unoccupied track circuits without diminishing the relatively high rail-to-rail impedance needed to prevent undesired loading or shunting of the AC track circuit. All-ac signal systems quickly became popular wherever ac power mains could be economically installed on existing pole lines. With little net magnetization of the core. and flow out of the impedance bond’s center tap. Tuned bonds contain capacitors connected to additional windings on the core. yielding nearly zero net magnetization of the inductor’s laminated iron core. 4-103 . By using both rails to carry the propulsion return current. the double rail track circuit also has a distinct advantage over the single-rail track circuit. If this was not the case. These currents are summed together. However. slowing development and deployment of an otherwise very successful technology. At the impedance bond. The net rail-to-rail impedance at 60 Hz for simple un-resonated (non-tuned) bonds is typically in the range of 0. years of patent litigation ensued. and the inductor began to saturate. The current then passes into the second impedance bond through its center tap. but newer designs have increased this impedance substantially. without shorting them directly together. there is also very little potential for magnetic saturation of the core material. Like all other track circuits where impedance bonds are used. remains essentially constant. AC track and line relays had proven superior to their contemporary dc counterparts in various ways. all-ac signaling technology quickly took hold around 1905-1910. the railto-rail inductance (and impedance) presented by the impedance bond to the tracks changes very little in response to the passage of a large propulsion return current.5 ohms.

demanded some means of uninterruptible power.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The all-ac signaling era lasted into the late 1920s. 4-104 . All-ac systems also suffered from limitations related to the parasitic capacitance in cables and the inconvenience of high operating voltages (55 or 110 volts ac versus 10-18 volts dc for dc signal systems). versatile Style C track circuit. uses a half-wave rectifier (a single diode) located at the far end of 18 The railroad signal term “stick” is generally synonymous with the digital logic term “latch”. which arrived in the mid-1930s. Other factors which ended the heyday of all-ac signaling systems included the arrival of improved dc shelf-mounted relays. which were introduced in the late 1920s. so named simply because it was third on a list of candidates for development. if any. but impossible (at the time) in an all-ac system. Increasingly complex logic functions. all-ac signaling systems were installed after World War II. especially stick18 functions such as route locking. and plug-in style dc relays. This was easily accomplished with batteries in a dc system. Figure 4-77 Large Shelf Relays Characteristic of an All-AC Signaling System Style C Track Circuits During studies of shunting performance in the 1930s. Primarily due to the large size and high cost of ac line relays. when the advent of low-cost dc power supplies using copper-oxide rectifiers permitted the substitution of dc relays in line circuits and logic functions. a hybrid ac-dc track circuit was developed. The simple. few.

I. but have limited range.E. The Style C track circuit is centralized. AC energy is applied to the track circuit. including special impedance bonds. Style C track circuits have been available from several manufacturers for several decades. Track circuits using audio frequencies are used in Crossing Predictors. track circuits of several different designs.T.I. no broken rail detection) at highway crossings and electric switch locks. When the track is shunted. tag interrogators are systems which track the movement of railroad cars throughout the rail network. in that it only requires power at one location. as opposed to ac track circuits specifically using ac power from a utility or local ac power system as their operating frequency.F. The Style C circuit was once widely used as a part of a low-cost highway crossing warning system.C. rather than a receptor. but the term A. the diode is effectively “shorted out”. 20 4-105 . The development of short-range audio-frequency overlay track circuits (A. A small transponder “tag” is mounted on each car. This causes the relay to become de-energized and indicate that the track is occupied.F. A. Style C track circuits are generally incompatible with Audio Frequency Overlay (AFO) track circuits and some Motion Sensors. really) in the rails is sensed by an ac-immune dc track relay. Other common applications include using these track circuits to activate 20 some hazard detectors and A. and in cab-signaling track circuits.T.’s) are a subset of ac track circuits in general. the A. Audio-Frequency Track Circuits So-called “audio-frequency” track circuits (A.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits the track circuit. Style C track circuits are generally viewed as being a source of ac interference on railroad tracks.E. and direct application of the audio-frequency signal to the rails. Like most other track circuits. but can be used reliably with some limited Crossing Predictor installations. concurrent with the commercial availability of transistors. i. which cannot energize the dc track relay. stands for “Automatic Equipment Identification”.I.E. and the wayside-mounted interrogator reads the information contained in the tag as the train passes by.C. The resulting so-called “jointless” audio-frequency overlay track circuit is widely used for train detection (occupancy only.O.C. These audio-frequency track circuits use a variety of methods to couple the audio-frequency signal into the rails.e. Motion Sensors. and requires only one pair of track wires19. and is installed in a rugged.T. and the resulting dc current (unipolar half-way ac. tag interrogators .F.F. and the current in the rails becomes entirely ac. relies on the same basic transmitter-shunt-receiver architecture to detect trains. operating at 300 Hz to 25 KHz began in the mid-1950s. air-core loops.). The interrogator is activated by the presence of a train or cars on the tracks in the immediate vicinity of the tag reader system. is usually reserved for modern electronic track circuits using ac frequencies within the audio band. A. 19 The diode is connected between the two rails at the opposite end of the circuit. where train speeds were 40 mph or less. weatherproof enclosure buried in the track ballast or left laying on top of it.

and is generally not overlaid upon some other form of track circuit. discussed in greater detail below) in that A.T.C. receiver.T. and communication with the train (cab signaling). Base A. as would be expected. the impedance of the track itself can be used as a means of limiting the effective length of an A.T.T.F. the size of the shunt detection area beyond the track wires of the track circuit is usually a minor concern. insulated joints are generally unnecessary.F.F.F.T.’s up to 2.500 feet in length are used extensively on rapid transit lines having sophisticated automatic train control systems. both the external detection distance.’s can detect shunts that are 3 to 5 feet outside of the circuit.C.C. is designed to be capable of detecting broken rails.T. Because the impedance of railroad track increases at all frequencies above zero Hz at a rate of roughly 3 Ohms per Kilohertz per 1.T. But trains shunting the track a few feet (or up to a few hundred feet in some cases) outside of this area can also be detected. These applications include track circuits designed to determine the occupancy of a section of track. Trains shunting the track anywhere between the location of the A. is considered a “base” or “primary” track circuit.F.C. At higher frequencies in the range of 9 to 16 KHz. as well as perform other functions such as broken rail detection. Because short track circuits are necessary in order to provide a shorter headway between trains. and there is a correspondingly small amount of variation in this external detection distance under the influences of changing ballast resistance and other factors.T.T. and its variability. will be larger.T.F. will be detected. A. The detection range outside of the area defined by the A.F. What is usually more important is the consistency of the size of this area. Because of this attenuation characteristic.C.C.C. except where a more precise determination of a train’s location is required. and the audio-frequency attenuation characteristic of the track. the ballast resistance. Also unlike AFO circuits.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Audio-frequency track circuits are also widely used for the usual track circuit occupancy duties on rapid transit and high-speed rail systems. However.’s used is usually on the order of 500 to 700 feet.000 feet of track. transmitter and receiver is a function of the sensitivity of the track circuit (which is adjustable).F. the A. At lower frequencies.F. 4-106 .C.’s differ from the similar Audio-Frequency Overlay (AFO. and the A. This is a very short length of track.C. the average length of the A. transmitter. A.F. where the block lengths are relatively short.C.

F. Unfortunately. This provides a mechanism for strong interference currents (ac or dc) to saturate an impedance bond. The size and thermal rating of impedance bonds can affect the operation of A. the cores of impedance bonds can be saturated by an unbalanced flow of dc propulsion current through opposite halves of a bond. electronics to the track.T.T.F. The use of impedance bonds to launch and capture A. Many jointless track circuits also employ some form of resonant shunt at each track circuit boundary to further define the boundaries of the circuit.O. Often this is built into the coupling network which connects the A.F. This can cause the impedance bond to begin to effectively “shunt” the track via the reduced inductance of the center-tapped inductor in the bond.F. signals imposes significant limitations on several aspects of track circuit design. circuits through sometimes-subtle processes.T. Another important benefit of the air-core loop is complete galvanic isolation of the track circuit apparatus from the running rails. Owing to the need for long loop length.O. Air-core loops can eliminate the problems associated with impedance bonds such as imbalance saturation and the expense of tuned impedance bonds.C. Audio-Frequency Overlay The Audio-Frequency Overlay (A. The term ‘overlay’ implies that the A.C.C. and is thus limited in application to short track circuits (up to 1000 feet). circuit is overlaid 4-107 .C.F.F.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-78 Impedance Bonds Different A. the air-core loop is relatively inefficient as a coupling mechanism.T. and higher levels power.) track circuit operates in the same manner as its dc and power-frequency counterparts. the use of air-core loops to couple audio-frequency signals to or from the rails is generally impractical at frequencies below 2 KHz. One solution to this is to use air-core inductive loops (wires) laid near the rails to couple the signaling frequency into the track. operating frequencies are used to avoid interference between adjoining track circuits. and thereby affect the operation of track circuits. Tuned impedance bonds can be tuned to maintain a low rail-to-rail impedance at all frequencies except those signaling frequencies for which the bond is tuned. For example.

F. This is because the operational behavior and performance of A.S.K.). track circuits was later improved by the incorporation of Amplitude Shift Keying (A. track circuits.F.K. track circuits using spreadspectrum modulation techniques such as “frequency hopping” are difficult to describe as having a specific operating frequency. The vital control logic used at such grade crossings usually incorporates timers and other additional watchdogs to prevent unwanted activation of the grade crossing warning system due to failed A. thus allowing the transmitter and receiver to be placed in the same equipment shelter. they often cannot be used as a substitute for Motion Sensors or Crossing Predictors in high-interference environments.O.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits upon some other form of track circuit.O. Generally. the track circuit length (approach circuit) needed to provide adequate warning time for grade crossings averages 2.F.O.O. although some newer A. (e. digital encoding techniques have been developed to eliminate frequency coordination difficulties and reduce logistical expenses. track circuits of the mid-1950s employed unmodulated carriers.F. These coupling circuits enable the electronics to be located many hundreds or even thousands of feet away from where their track wires are attached to the rails.O. and Phase-Shift Keying (P.g.S. One of the most common applications of A. local. extending for perhaps 50 feet on either side of the road itself.F. Furthermore.’s is for train detection at highway crossings (grade crossings) on both electrified and diesel-electric railroads.O.500 feet or less where train speeds do not exceed 50 miles-per-hour. Frequency-Shift Keying (F. track circuits employing sophisticated digital signal processing (D.F.O. The security of A. transmitters and receivers are generally located in close proximity (less than 100 feet) to their connections to the rails. track circuits of up to 4.S. statewide. 4-108 .O. This is also true of other types of circuits not normally defined as A. “Intelligent” A. such as minimizing highway traffic delays. the frequencies used are selected from a standardized set of frequencies established by the manufacturer. although it can also be used in a stand-alone fashion in some applications. However. but this can be extended for some circuits with the use of special coupling circuits. track circuits only provide simple occupancy information.-based crossings is fundamentally different from that provided by Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors. or national 21 An “Island” is a short circuit designed to detect the presence of a train within the immediate area of a grade crossing. Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors).O. A. In actual practice. circuits can range from the low tens of Hertz.O.F.O.F.).F. and do not measure train speed or direction. A. even though the track circuit may be thousands of feet long.) modulation techniques. Early A.000 feet are common in diesel-electric territory.) techniques have 21 also been developed to improve the reliability of short “island ” circuits. In this regard they are much less susceptible to ac interference than Motion Sensors or even Crossing Predictors.S.F. However. to perhaps 50 KHz or more. Although they do not provide the operational benefits of Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors. Most modern A.O. a half dozen or more overlaid track circuits of various types may be present in the vicinity of some complex highway crossings.P. More recently.K.F.O.F.F. track circuits are often used specifically because of their generally high immunity to interference from propulsion currents and other forms of interference. The frequencies used for A. as most A.

as many as 10 different codes may be transmitted using only 2 Hz of bandwidth between 3 Hz and 5 Hz. Lower code rates are assigned to more permissive speed commands. by selectively controlling the time interval between pulses. or the presence of another train ahead in the same track circuit would tend to cut off reception of this 4-109 . generally far above the level of interfering signals produced by noise from propulsion equipment. carrier frequency. One disadvantage of the impulse track circuit is the need for careful insulated joint maintenance. the primary advantage of the impulse track circuit is its excellent shunting performance in the presence of rust. a false shunt across the tracks. Because the track is a lossy transmission line (i. In order to be able to receive a cab signal indication when running in either direction on a single track. oscillation is virtually nil after only 3-4 cycles. which is periodically interrupted (100% Amplitude Modulated) at a rate of 75. or combination of the two. contributors to poor shunting). or 180 pulses-per-minute in a square-wave fashion (50% duty cycle). However. cab signal transmitters must be located at both ends of the track circuit. Cab Signals Most cab signal systems use the track itself as the medium for transmitting cab signal information from the wayside to the train. This coded signal is always applied to the tracks at the exiting end of the track circuit. rather than L-C filters. Impulse Track Circuits One substantially different type of track circuit modulation technique has been widely used outside the United States for many years. The resultant waveform at the receiving end of the circuit has a distinct asymmetrical bipolar waveshape that can be reliably detected using simple magnetic elements.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits policies often require new grade crossings and upgraded grade crossings to be equipped only with constant warning time equipment (i. Decoding is accomplished using pulse detectors and timers. Due to its higher rail-to-rail voltage. 120. Each cab signal aspect to be displayed is assigned to a unique modulation (interruption) rate.e. Obviously. or other wheel-rail insulators (i. The impulse track circuit derives its name from the impulse generated when a 50 µF capacitor charged to about 150 volts is repeatedly discharged across the rails. the presence of a broken rail. due to the high peek voltages of this track circuit. sand.e. These transmitters are switched on selectively. Impulse track circuits typically operate at a 4 Hz repetition rate. it is significantly damped).e. The peak current flows for 1-2 ms during the first half-cycle. Crossing Predictors). This system also offers excellent immunity to EMI because the peak rail current is on the order of 150 Amperes. depending on the direction of train traffic. so that the head end of the train is always moving toward the source of transmission. This electrical signal is detected by inductive pickup coils mounted just above the rails on the front of the lead locomotive or car of the train. Information is conveyed by a power frequency or audio frequency carrier signal applied to the track.

the engineman must reduce the speed or manually make a full service brake application in 4-110 . it becomes impractical to fully replicate in the cab the 9-17 different aspects that can be given by a multiple-headed set of wayside signals. A downward transition in cab signal aspect may also trigger a penalty brake application if not suppressed by a manual brake application or acknowledgement from the engineman within 5 to 8 seconds. the speed of the vehicle is compared to the allowable speed for a given aspect. After being inductively picked up by the receiver coils located ahead of the first axle on the locomotive.) systems. cab signal aspects are controlled by the next wayside signal ahead of the train.C. in that a dark signal aspect (no indication) must be treated in the same way as the most restrictive signal indication (STOP). An upward or downward transition of the cab signal aspect may be used to control an audible warning (a small whistle in the cab).Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits transmission by the approaching train. Figure 4-79 Cab Signaling and Automatic Train Control were Well-Established Technologies by 1940 In general. the incoming signal is then amplified and decoded to control the in-cab aspect display. In more sophisticated Automatic Train Control (A. This provides the same measure of safety as conventional track circuits and wayside signals. This penalty braking application consists of a full service brake application that cannot be released until the train has been brought to a complete stop. If the vehicle’s speed exceeds the allowable limit. Because systems using this simple modulation scheme are generally limited to a small number of code rates and associated aspects (2-6). Railroad signal personnel refer to this as the next signal “in advance” of the train.T.

Transistor amplifiers were introduced as early as 1953 in carborne applications. as found in Western Australia.0 or 3. a carrier frequency of 91-2/3 Hz is used in areas where dual AC/DC propulsion systems exist. attempts in the 1950s to detect and decode pulses on rate-coded DC track circuits proved unsuccessful.500 feet in length are common. and 180 pulses-per-minute are most commonly used. with code (pulse) rates in the range of 0. Carrier frequencies of 75. Frequencies higher than 100 Hz usually dictate use of low current levels. 2. and tie plates. and microprocessor-based circuitry has since eliminated most of the bulky. especially localized residual magnetism in the rails.5 Amps at the entering end of the circuit has been successfully used on track circuits up to 11.000 feet or more. Certain ATC systems in Asia have also employed single-sideband 4-111 • • • .83 to 21 Hz. respectively) are the most common. with a minimum carrier level of 0. 60 Hz cab signal systems have proven increasingly difficult to maintain due to ever-worsening interference from utility transmission and distribution systems. 60 Hz carrier. Early coded cab signal receivers of the 1927-1950 era employed two-stage tube amplifiers to amplify the signal from the inductive pick-up coils. due to harmonics or the presence of interfering electrical signals on the rails. higher code rates are assigned to higher speed limits. 120. and 180 pulses-per-minute (1. 40 Hz cab signal is successfully operated over track circuits up to 45. Unfortunately. or 90 Hz are countries used in foreign countries having 50 Hz utility systems.0 amps at the entering end of the circuit. 83. heavy components. demodulation. Frequency-selection. • 40 Hz carrier has been successfully used on track circuits of 12.000 feet in length. in order to prevent the cab signal system from displaying a more permissive aspect than intended. 125 Hz cab signal carrier has been used in Europe. Carrier frequencies lower than 60 Hz are generally impractical in electrified territory due to the low rail-to-rail impedance of un-resonated impedance bonds. Unfortunately. the increased reactance of the track at 100 Hz effectively reduces the maximum operable length of track circuits. and decoding of the carrier were accomplished using tuned L-C circuits driving the coils of dc relays through copper-oxide rectifiers. As a general rule. with a minimum carrier level of 2. The lower reactance of railroad track at low frequencies is the primary motivation for adopting 40 Hz as a cab signal carrier frequency. making the transition from 60 to 100 Hz difficult and expensive. and 3. Under exceptionally dry track conditions.000 feet long. and the decoding circuitry is arranged so that the lowest recognized code rate governs train speed. Some systems even employ a declining speed profile. Carrier frequencies can range from 40 Hz to as high as 16 KHz. joint bars. which generate low-frequency electrical “noise” when the cab signal sensing coils on the front of the train pass over them.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits order to avoid the penalty braking. the standard code rates of 75.00 Hz. However. 100 Hz carrier. Track circuits up to about 7. Code rates of 75.3. To avoid heterodyning with the fourth harmonic of 25 Hz propulsion energy.25.00. 40 Hz track circuits are plagued with interference from many sources. whereby the penalty braking application is forestalled so long as the train’s speed gradually decreases in accordance with a predetermined braking curve. is the most widely used system today. The on/off duty cycle of the modulation is nominally 50%. 120. However. One two-aspect 60 Hz train control system was successfully converted to use a 100 Hz carrier frequency in the mid1970s. For the same reason.

The most common “audio-frequency” carriers for these specialized cab signaling systems in the U. Because of the track’s poor transmission characteristics (primarily its limited bandwidth). due to its use of relatively high carrier frequencies. but have not been implemented as yet. they are for some inexplicable reason considered separately from the “audio-frequency” carriers used in specialize types of railroad cab signaling. and continue to be used in some limited parts of North America. Due to limitations imposed by the resonant circuits in the impedance bonds.S.) has been used on recent audio-frequency cab signaling systems operating in the frequency range of 9 to 16 KHz. using a power-line-related frequency (the power-line frequency or one of its harmonics) as the operating frequency for a track circuit is likely to increase the chances of electromagnetic incompatibility with any unintended sources of ac energy. 100.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits transmission techniques. • 250 Hz carrier is now becoming more common for high-speed rail applications. Surprisingly. greatly outweigh any apparent advantages. Frequency-shift keying (F. sophisticated techniques such as Trellis Coded Modulation. The minimum rail current sensitivity for the carborne receivers used in such systems is typically 150 to 300 milliamperes. are typically 990. the downsides. Various other frequency modulation techniques have also been studied. Phase-Shift Modulation and Pulse-Coded Modulation techniques have been used to a limited extent in the past. Obviously. have not been applied to this form of signaling to date. audio-range carrier frequencies of 1700-2600 Hz. “Audio-Frequency” Cab Signaling Although the carrier frequencies of 40. 60. now common in voice-band telecommunications. These are typically used on light-rail electricpropulsion rapid-transit systems. Worldwide. In general. On one rapid transit system. there is a practical limit of about six or eight code rates (aspects) per carrier in this type of system. “audio-frequency” cab signaling in relatively immune to ac interference. Code rates for cab signal systems using audio-frequency carriers typically range from 75 to 1260 pulses per minute (1.S.25 to 21 Hz). 12 aspects are provided using 4550 and 5525 Hz carriers. One of the most glaring examples of this type is the use of 60 Hz Cab Signaling. including its susceptibility to 60 Hz ac interference. Given the generally favorable track circuit parameters (high ballast resistance and very short track circuits) found on modern rapid transit systems. 2340. This system can display nine different signal aspects.K. 4-112 . 4-6 KHz and 9-16 KHz are commonly employed. that operate in the range of 720-1020 Hz. The short track circuit length used also helps minimize the potential for inductive coupling. an 80-bit digital message can be transmitted to the train at a rate of three times per second over track circuits of up to 1000 feet in length. One version provides a supplemental 250 Hz carrier interspersed with the 100 Hz to provide additional combinations. Although there are some features of this approach to cab signaling that may appear economically attractive. 60 Hz track circuits of various types have still been developed. 4550. which are synchronized to the 60-Hz propulsion current. and 5525 Hz. and 250 Hz used in cab signaling are clearly within the audible range of human hearing.

electric and electronic warning systems are installed which permit an uninterrupted flow of train traffic .) improvements and maintenance are generally funded by state transportation authorities.000 of them are equipped with some form of crossing warning system.by interrupting the highway traffic only when necessary as the trains are passing. just as a signal system does. gates. Road Crossings. Standardization of the warning device form and function was resolved in the 1930s. wherein bridges. the relative braking distances of trains and automobiles dictate that it must be so. But in the United States. Highway crossing warning systems are a large and growing part of the signaling systems on nearly every railroad in the United States. At-Grade Crossings. each crossing equipped with warning devices employs some form of track circuit for train detection.C. improvements ultimately comes from annual federal transportation grants. This long history has left us with warning systems that have several anachronistic characteristics. and underpasses or overpasses are used.000 public grade crossings in the United States.S. The evolution and deployment of warning signals in the form of flashers. Grade crossings work well for low-to-medium train and highway traffic densities. the construction and maintenance of these structures is costly. about 65. The state authorities determine where H. or Highway Crossings.S. Based on the principle that the railroads were there first and own the land. and other devices began prior to World War I.W.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Grade Crossings In any country with a well-developed rail network. State authorities may also pay the railroad an annual fee to maintain the installations. the most common term for them is simply “grade crossing”. The primary advantage of such grade separation is that it permits an uninterrupted flow of traffic on both transportation systems. tunnels.W.W. when the density of either form of transportation reaches the point that the highway traffic interruptions become intolerable. most of the capital funding for H.S. Bridges routinely cost more than $1 Million (U. and also for some rail transit systems. Known variously as Highway-Rail Intersections. and other maintenance. situations will inevitably arise where the railroad needs to cross paths with another mode of transportation. Of the roughly 265. or freeways crossing railroad lines. and still require periodic inspection.C. In many cases. as well as the more common version designed primarily for automotive traffic across the railroad. Highway Crossing Warning System (H. The obvious and much cheaper alternative to such divided-elevation solutions is the so-called “Grade Crossing”. This includes crossings designed for pedestrian traffic.S. this involves a “grade separation”.C. Although this might seem to unduly favor the passage of train traffic. 4-113 . improvements are needed and what type of equipment is to be installed. However.). bells. This is often the case for heavily-traveled highways. Approaching trains are given priority to use the crossing at any time. However. At such grade crossings. in exchange for unrestricted automotive traffic flow at all other times. painting. With the exception of a handful of crossings which are controlled by manual or experimental means. it is still likely that you will find track circuits for highway crossing warning systems. some other solution such as grade separation is usually employed. Even on railroad tracks with no other form of railroad signaling (so-called “dark” territory).

Fortunately. These systems also had no way of adapting themselves to trains of different speeds. but many Model 300’s are still in service across the United States . One of the most annoying to motorists was the inability of the system to respond quickly to a train that had slowed to a stop while approaching the crossing. and feed this information into a simple analog computer which would calculate the amount of time remaining before the train reached the crossing. California. and track circuits. there is less temptation for the motoring public either to try and “beat the train” in order to avoid a long wait. Crossing Predictors were the first technology to provide such an accurate and consistent warning 4-114 . etc. bells. it still consumed more than 100 watts of power. to investigate the feasibility of using railroad track as a transducer to measure a train’s position and velocity. timers. And the alternating flash of the lights at a grade crossing is the modern incarnation of the so-called “wig-wag” device. while significantly reducing their power consumption. After a few more years of research and development. By minimizing excessive warning time. and warning times varied widely. The research proved fruitful. Even using solid-state construction. Although there had been earlier attempts at constant warning time systems for grade crossings.better known as the Southern Pacific Railroad . Known as the Model 300 Grade Crossing Predictor. Crossing Predictors The basic purpose of a Crossing Predictor is to help avoid accidents involving trains and automotive traffic. and suffered from several shortcomings. even though many of these devices are now controlled by modern digital technology. or to simply ignore the warning devices and cross the tracks while a train is approaching.contracted with the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. Many such historical features remain. and two such units were required at each crossing for each track. and the Southern Pacific Co. a system could be constructed which would activate the warning devices (gates.well beyond their intended 20-year service life. it was built using discrete transistors and components mounted on a series of circuit cards plugged into a chassis with a hand-wired backplane. Advances in electronics technology have greatly increased the performance and reliability of modern Crossing Predictors. the first commercial Grade Crossing Predictor was produced by the Marquardt corporation in 1962. and to minimize automotive traffic delays by providing a consistent amount of warning time prior to the arrival of a train at a grade crossing. some involving complicated “trap” circuits with numerous relays.) at a railroad crossing at a consistent interval prior to the train’s arrival at the crossing – regardless of wide variations in train speed. This could cause the gates to remain down. The history of the Crossing Predictor starts in the late 1950s. when the Southern Pacific Company . In this way. then sought a company to turn this basic research into a viable product. to simulate the motion of a red kerosene lantern in the hand of a train crewman standing at the crossing. with no approaching train visible. the height specified for the signs and lights at a grade crossing has its roots in the height of a man’s eyes while seated on a horse. this height also works well for modern highway traffic in most cases. in which a steadily-lit red lamp was swung back and forth over the crossing. lights.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits For example. The earliest crossing warning systems were constructed using three simple track circuits combined with some relay logic.

Second. This measurement is usually made at the edge(s) of a grade crossing. In this context. and that the measured electrical impedance of a railroad track circuit. Whenever the amount of time remaining is less than or equal to the desired warning time. First. By continuously calculating the amount of time remaining before the first axle of the train reaches the point of measurement (called the “feedpoint”). a Crossing Predictor measures both the magnitude of the track circuit impedance. a decision can be made as to when to activate the crossing’s warning devices. depends on the distance between the axle shorting the rails together. By dividing the magnitude of the track circuit impedance by its time-rate-of-change. always remember that the axles of a train provide a “short” or “shunt” across a set of railroad tracks. the point in time at which the impedance will reach zero (or a minimum) can be calculated. and the point at which the measurement is made. lights. and comparing it to the amount of warning time desired. bells) are activated. “widely-varying” refers to the variation in speed from train to train. the warning devices (gates. This will occur when the first axle of the train reaches the point at which the measurement of track circuit impedance is made. and the positive or negative rate-of-change of that impedance with respect to time.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits time for trains of widely-varying speeds. with the speed of each train being essentially constant while it is within the approaches to a grade crossing. Figure 4-80 GCP Block Diagram 4-115 . as measured from one rail to the other. The underlying concepts of the Crossing Predictor are relatively simple.

Ultimately. By continuously comparing the results of this computation with the amount of warning time desired. especially passenger transit lines.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits A negative rate-of-change in track impedance (impedance diminishes over time) indicates that a train is approaching the crossing. etc. The island circuit is created by separating the points at which the transmitter and receiver of the Crossing Predictor attach to the track at the crossing. This is sometimes known as a “positive island ring”.06-Ohm22 or lower resistance connected between the rails anywhere within the track circuit. the exact distance between a crossing and an approaching train can be measured.06-Ohm standard required by the FRA. Whenever the crossing’s warning devices are to be activated. set their island circuits to be even more sensitive than the 0. This output is normally energized to around 12 volts dc when there are no trains approaching. they must also correctly handle stationary trains which are blocking the road or highway. Settings of 0. this island circuit must respond to the presence of a 0. and velocity: Time = Distance / Velocity. Conversely. the decision to activate the crossing consists of a single binary output. Just like any other track circuit used to determine track occupancy.25 Ohms are not uncommon.12 or even 0. distance. Using the simple relationship of time. the crossing’s warning devices will be activated by the Crossing Predictor. bells. Most railroads also include roughly 50 feet of track on either side of the road as part of the island circuit. 22 Many railroads. they are able to share these wires easily. When it is. The island circuit has absolute control over the grade crossing warning system. which has a coil resistance of about 500 Ohms.) at the crossing. the Crossing Predictor will de-energize its primary relay drive output which initiates a series of actions by the warning devices (gates. lights. Since the Crossing Predictor and the island circuit use different operating frequencies. And the magnitude of the impedance is proportional to the position of the nearest axle of the train within the approach. Enough current drive is available to actuate a standard general-purpose railroad signal relay. a positive rate of change signifies that the train is moving away from the crossing. as well as the train’s velocity. and will activate the crossing’s warning devices when the island is occupied by one or more axles of a train. and using these “track wires” for both the Crossing Predictor and the island circuit. but may increase this significantly when the railroad and highway intersect at anything other than a right angle. we can use these electrical track measurements to compute the amount of time required for an approaching train to travel the remaining distance to the crossing. and is used to drive the coil of a relay or some other device in the equipment shelter at the grade crossing. we can easily determine when the train is “warning time” seconds away from the crossing. 4-116 . The purpose of the island circuit is to keep a grade crossing’s warning devices activated any time that a train is occupying (or very close to occupying) the grade crossing. or if there are other forms of visual obstruction which could prevent someone from actually seeing an approaching train. Thus. Although Crossing Predictors (and Motion Sensors) are primarily designed to detect trains approaching a grade crossing. Therefore they also contain an additional circuit (usually consisting of an audio-frequency overlay or AFO) known as the “island circuit”.

it was recognized that not all of the advantages of a constant warning time system were needed at all grade crossing locations. this seems like a simple task. and then the train slows to a stop before reaching the crossing? When should the gates go up? When do the gates actually go up? Figure 4-81 Track a Island. This interval is known as “pickup delay”. you could think of a crossing predictor as a state machine controlled by an ac impedancemeasuring system. For example. a grade crossing which sees only “through” train moves (the train never stops within the approaches to the crossing) at or near the track speed limit (common in commuter rail 4-117 . But consider the following example: what happens when a Crossing Predictor has predicted the arrival of a train at a crossing.e. becomes energized. Again. With respect to ac interference. in order to keep the crossing’s warning devices activated whenever they must be. These timers are usually used to keep the Crossing Predictor in various operating states for a period of time. Motion Sensors Following the advent of the Crossing Predictor. a timer begins to run. the crossing’s warning devices will be instructed by the Crossing Predictor to shut off. In fact. Showing Track Wires The actual answer to this last question is that when a Crossing Predictor has predicted. after the train has stopped within the approach.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Crossing Predictors (and Motion Sensors) use their island circuits to determine when the last car of the train has cleared the crossing. and equipped with many timers. which keeps the gates down at grade crossings for long periods during intermittent ac interference. Should this timer complete its timing cycle before inbound motion is seen again. but is no longer seeing “inbound motion”. and then un-occupied after the Crossing Predictor has predicted the arrival of a train at the crossing. the warning devices at the crossing should then return to their un-activated states. generally just after something significant has occurred. and has activated the crossing’s warning devices. it is often the length of these timers rather than the persistence of the offending ac energy. i. When the island circuit becomes occupied. in reference to the delay which occurs before the railroad signal relay controlled by the Crossing Predictor “picks up”. These sorts of timing cycles are found throughout the internal operations of Crossing Predictors.

and much less train delay than would be required by conventional dc or ac track circuits. they remain un-activated.if in fact they ever do. allowing the train to move towards the crossing without stopping. And if the train began to move towards the crossing again. Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors are the two most sensitive systems with regard to ac interference. Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors 4-118 . While most circuits transmit a signal at one end of a track circuit. it would have to slowly approach the crossing prepared to stop just short of the island. Otherwise. and receive it at the opposite end of the track circuit (or fail to receive it when the track is shunted). as compared to almost all other track circuits. and this is often one of the motivations for railroads to use Motion Sensors as a replacement for conventional dc or ac circuits at grade crossings. and creep up onto the island circuit.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits operations) could be served equally well by a Crossing Predictor. Motion Sensors offer a significant advantage over conventional ac or dc track circuits. Crossing Predictors. then the crossing’s warning devices are activated. generally providing much more warning time. a motion sensor would activate the crossing’s warning devices a few seconds after the train resumed moving towards the crossing. And when the train started moving toward the crossing. Motion Sensor. sometimes called the “minimum motion threshold”. or simple ac or dc track circuits. In contrast. due to the fundamentally different way that these devices work. and once the gates were lowered (or the highway traffic was stopped by the lights and bells alone) the train could proceed across the crossing. What differs is the type of processing that is done on the train position and train velocity data generated. Motion Sensors detect the presence of trains using the track as a transducer in exactly the same way as Crossing Predictors do. and AC Interference Among all of the different types of track circuits. provided that no part of the train is obstructing the crossing itself (occupying the island). In general. If the train’s speed towards the crossing is at or above some minimum threshold speed. This is done to prevent extremely long warning times from occurring with trains moving very slowly towards the crossing from the far end of an approach. Unlike Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors. The only thing that complicates this process somewhat is that the minimum motion threshold can be made a function of any other system variable or input to the system. But for trains which might start and stop within the approaches to a grade crossing. Once the train entered the island circuit at the crossing. in that they will allow the crossing to “clear up” shortly after a train stops while within either approach to the crossing. Electrically speaking. a Motion Sensor’s decision to activate the crossing’s warning devices is based almost solely on the train’s velocity. Obviously this is preferable to the operation of a crossing controlled by conventional dc or ac track circuits. crossings controlled by conventional dc or ac track circuits may wait many (15-20) minutes before deactivating the crossing’s warning devices in response to a stopped train on an approach . the warning time would be roughly the same. a Motion Sensor can activate the crossing’s warning devices again. In each case. such as the train’s position. the crossing’s warning devices would be activated. Motion Sensors.

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits are different. In one sense. In contrast. However. This usually happens when some of the common-mode interference is converted into differential-mode by an impedance imbalance between the two rails of the track. This requires a few thousand volts. with the lights and bells operating. Of the two systems. the safest crossing is one whose arms are continuously in the lowered (horizontal) position. Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors are more like an impedance meter which measures the electrical characteristics of the track. In contrast. Since vitality requires that these systems be capable of detecting any internal or external conditions which could prevent the system from providing adequate warning time. Motion Sensors and Crossing predictors are designed to monitor these internal and external conditions every few seconds via a built-in self-testing or “selfchecking” process. this common-mode voltage is invisible to these systems . as compared to a Motion Sensor. raising their ac potential with respect to ground. Another exception would be when the dielectric breakdown voltage of the wiring or components used in railroad signal equipment is exceeded. The measurement made by this “impedance meter” is then run through some additional processes to determine if there is an approaching train. Unwanted ac electrical energy which is coupled into the rails through magnetic induction or other processes is often present. This requires a few hundred volts of rail-to-ground potential. Most forms of ac interference can only occur when interfering voltages are present in the form of rail-to-rail (differential-mode) potentials. Anything which interferes with the ability of a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor to accurately measure the impedance of the track circuit can cause the system to falsely activate the warning devices at a crossing. a Motion Sensor only has to detect something that looks like a sufficiently high rate of inbound motion in order to activate the warning devices. a Crossing Predictor must see a sufficiently high rate of inbound motion with respect to the train’s apparent position. the most common symptom of ac interference is a false activation of the crossing’s warning devices. and stops working when the track is shunted. but seldom a problem. and use rail-to-rail (differential mode) 23 voltages to detect trains. which is 23 One exception to this generalization would be when the rail-to-ground potential rises enough to activate the protective devices (Lightning Arrestors) which then shunt excessive rail-to-ground potentials to earth. The kinds of problems that this can cause when it occurs will be discussed in greater detail in the “Investigation and Diagnosis” chapter. This additional requirement reduces the sensitivity of the Crossing Predictor to ac interference. Their operation is controlled by the changes in the electrical impedance of the track circuit that they are connected to. A typical track circuit is like a communications link between two points on the track. Specifically. But since Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors are transformer-coupled to the rails. even though there is no train approaching. The system must take a “fail-safe” action when any vital failure is detected. The presence of any apparent vital failure is sufficient cause for the crossing’s warning devices to be activated. as viewed from a particular point. 4-119 . which works when the track is unoccupied. due to their less-restrictive requirements for activating the crossing’s warning devices. Motion Sensors are more sensitive to ac interference than Crossing Predictors. they contain a series of processes for detecting internal and external failures. Generally this type of induction affects both rails equally.

These approaches begin approximately 50 feet from either side of the highway pavement. 24 The railroad signal term “stick” is generally synonymous with the digital logic term “latch”. depending on the type of system and the layout of the tracks. the crossing’s warning devices will not be turned off until the time delay has expired.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits simply called a “false activation” by the FRA.e. the warning devices at a grade crossing can be activated whenever either of the two approaches has been occupied. One or more track circuits may be located within each approach. or 2. it is still fortunate that the effect of ac interference on Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors is generally to activate the warning devices at a crossing when they should not be activated (a “right-side” failure). and using a vital logic circuit 24 known as a “stick” . track circuits are constructed on both sides of the highway to detect the presence of a train as it approaches the crossing. The length of the approach circuits is determined by the maximum authorized train speed. This occurs when the presence of the unwanted ac energy interferes with the proper operation of the train detection equipment. Even though it may be a nuisance. leaving the approach circuit. Filling the gap between these two approach circuits is a third very short track circuit known as the “island”. rather than to prevent the warning devices from being activated when they should be (a “wrong-side” failure). the warning devices will be turned off whenever either of the following two things happens: 1. the warning devices at a grade crossing will remain activated continuously. There are many other root causes that can produce the same end results. with the island circuit first becoming occupied and then unoccupied. In the most extreme cases. and extend away from the crossing far enough to provide adequate warning time for train moving at or slightly above the district speed limit for those tracks. with their outputs combined to form a single approach circuit. either by simulating the electrical effects of an approaching train. these problems are attributed to ac interference long before a proper investigation into the cause has been made. By detecting the occupancy of each of these three track circuits. The train completes its movement across the crossing. Furthermore. ac interference is noticed when the warning devices at a grade crossing occasionally go into operation with no trains present. Conventional or “Stick” Grade Crossing Warning Systems In the simplest type of grade crossing warning system. All too often. 4-120 . In this case. these track circuits are known as the “approaches” of the crossing. or by simulating the symptoms of an internal or external vital failure. and is calculated so as to provide 20-30 seconds of warning time before the train arrives at the crossing. both in type and severity. Manifestations of this sort of interference can and do vary widely. Not every crossing which occasionally experiences a false activation is experiencing ac interference. More often. which starts a timer of several minutes duration. false activations and long warning times. and there will have been visible permanent physical damage inflicted upon the equipment itself. which spans the highway itself. The train stops and backs away from the crossing before reaching it. Unsurprisingly. i.

During the normal operation of a gate mechanism. the warning devices are activated as soon as the train enters either approach. the warning bell at the top of the mechanism is silent. Once in the vertical position. receive more than the designed warning time. or disappears due to a complete failure of electrical power. commuter. locked in place by the hold-clear device. and light-rail lines. Although an electro-hydraulic gate mechanism was marketed in the U. the gate arm is held by an electro-mechanical “hold-clear” device that prevents reverse (downward) rotation of the motor armature. during the 1960s. The arm is vertical. For long heavy trains that are just starting to crawl out of a railroad yard. the grade crossing warning system may be activated by trains that wind up stopping within one of the approaches before reaching the crossing.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits In normal operation. the gate spends most of its time in the vertical position. This can happen when trains stop at wayside signals. The results are too often tragic. The impatient motorist may be tempted to ignore the warning flashers and bells. nearly all gate mechanisms sold today employ dc motors and mechanical gearboxes. and this may coincide with the limit of a motorist’s patience. a sequence of events takes place in the gate mechanism. All gate mechanisms use motor power to drive the gate arm upward to the vertical (90-degree or clear) position. of course. In other cases. This is necessary because the arm and counterweight assembly (if any) are balanced so that the arm will gently descend to the horizontal position by gravity if unrestrained. the attached bells 4-121 . This technique is satisfactory where all trains approach the crossing at or near the speed limit without stopping. Trains traveling at half of the speed limit will produce warning times that are twice as long as a speed-limit train move will.S. as the credibility and effectiveness of the grade crossing warning system is compromised when warning times are perceived as excessive or erratic by the motorist. The case of a slow but accelerating train approaching a grade crossing is particularly dangerous. Perhaps surprisingly. This can begin to impact the safety of the crossing. Many early gate mechanisms installed prior to 1950 were in fact reworked semaphore signal mechanisms. Trains approaching the crossing at less than the maximum speed will. and remain so until the rear end of the train has cleared the crossing. As trains may be required to wait for times ranging from seconds to hours. When this voltage is turned off by the crossing warning system. and is what powers the hold-clear device. because the train may have reached a moderate speed by the time it reaches the crossing. the warning times provided by this technique can quickly run into the minutes and tens of minutes. just in time to discover that “there really was” a train coming. and many are still in service. and may drive around the crossing gates (motor-operated physical barriers) at the crossing. and the lights are not flashing. The “gate control voltage” consists of 12 volts dc at a few milliamperes (roughly 35 mA). a grade crossing warning system that uses such simple logic must rely on its “time-out” timers to restore highway traffic flow. Highway Crossing Gate Mechanisms Highway crossing gate mechanisms are another type of signal equipment commonly found on mainline.

but by the electronics of the warning system in the signal equipment enclosure. This braking is done by using the gate motor as a generator. will always be completed. This is done to prevent the unnecessary breakage of gate arms by highway traffic. The lights and bells are left flashing and ringing until the gate arm is within a few degrees of vertical. not all railroads control them in this way. releasing the shaft of the dc permanent-magnet motor. Specialized vehicle arresting barriers or nets have recently been tested in limited trials. A 3. Some subscribe to the philosophy that a gate mechanism which reverses its direction in mid-travel is too confusing to the motoring public. Although gate mechanisms must be instantly reversible from any position of ascent or descent. Some gate mechanisms also have a second output shaft for operating a short pedestrian gate arm that blocks the sidewalk at the same time as the main arm blocks the road. and a mechanical dashpot or “buffer” assembly stops the arm at the lower limit of its travel. Articulated gate arms may be used where clearance to overhead power lines or other structures is a concern.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits and lights are not controlled by the gate mechanism itself. and so they add logic to assure that any movement. and have frangible or spring-return connections to the gate mechanism. and aluminum gate arms are lightweight. Gate mechanism motors and control circuits are designed to withstand stalling of the arm. the motor is used to drive the gate arm back to its vertical position. the gate motor is used to drive the gate arm downward for the first third (or more) of its descent.5-second delay is then provided between the commencement of flashing and the descent of the gate arm. today are of the half-barrier type. whether towards the vertical or horizontal position. The gate arm immediately begins descending to the horizontal (0 degree) position. gate arm replacement is a frequent maintenance chore at some crossings. Most of them aim to prevent a speeding vehicle from crashing through the gates and obstructing the 4-122 . The gate arm then coasts for roughly the middle third of its descent. Wood. the flashing light units on the mast and gate arm immediately begin flashing. which may occur if the arm is obstructed or broken.to 3.0. and the bells immediately begin ringing.A. and the gate arm is to be raised. the use of traffic-obstructing center dividers and so-called “four-quadrant” gate layouts is becoming increasingly common. which shortens the amount of time required to reach the horizontal position. Even so. When the crossing warning system is activated. As this makes it possible for traffic to swerve around the gates. This accelerates the gate arm more quickly than gravity alone would do. and dissipating the power generated in an adjustable resistor in the gate mechanism. so-named because the gate arm blocks only one-half of the roadway.S. The longest gate arms typically used are approximately 40 feet in length. To counteract the effects of unfavorable winds acting on long gate arms. The adjustment of this resistor controls the amount of braking applied. The vast majority of highway crossing gate mechanisms installed in the U. This is done to lessen the risk of motorists hitting or stopping beneath the gate arm. and is dynamically braked to a stop during the final third. fiberglass. Once the train has passed. The hold clear is then de-energized.

as they offer 4-123 . Curiously. Unfortunately. some of these require equipment to be located along the roadway at some distance from the grade crossing. the associated labor cost is making this practice largely a thing of the past. Although manually operated crossing barriers have a long heritage in the railroad industry. but remains continuously lit whenever the warning devices are in operation. 18-25 watt precision signal lamp. this would consist of two mast-mounted sets of four lights each. or cantilever structures at various points around the crossing. a concave mirror. masts. the term “crossing protection” is reserved for the familiar “crossbuck” railroad crossing sign placed at all grade crossings.K. plus at least two flashing lights per gate arm (if gate mechanisms are used). Gate mechanisms are also required to have a “tip light”.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits tracks. you will find highway crossing flashers. which resembles the flashing lights on the gate arm. LED-based light units having similar electrical ratings are now becoming widespread as a replacement for incandescent bulbs.A that is equipped with some form of crossing warning system. limiting their applicability to most crossings. and elsewhere employ manually operated gates that cover the full length of the crossing. Many level crossings (grade crossings) in the U. The mast-mounted incandescent flashing light units use a 10-volt. and a colored roundel. with all of the electric or electronic systems referred to as “crossing warning systems”.S. At any crossing in the U. Figure 4-82 Typical Half-Barrier Highway Crossing Gate Mechanism Highway Crossing Flashers Highway crossing flashers are universally applied to all highway crossings equipped with warning devices other than a sign. Typically. A highway crossing equipped with flashers will normally have between 8 and 50 flashing red lights mounted on gate arms.

TIP LIGHT BATTERYFLASHER RELAY BATTERY+ Figure 4-83 Schematic of Lights and Shunts In this way. result in both bulbs being at least dimly lit. their 4-124 . beamspread. FRA rule 234.221 requires that all lamps in a highway crossing warning system be energized at no less than 85% of the lamp’s rated voltage. All modern flashing light units are either 8-3/8" or 12" in diameter.5 volts to each lamp. and a very intense and colorsaturated source of light. That is.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits much longer lifetimes. Lighting units are paired to flash alternately using a three-wire circuit. and maintainer access are important issues in light unit performance. graceful degradation in the event of damage. at worst. Bell mechanisms normally consist of a solenoid-operated mechanical gong driven by 10 volts dc. This means that the battery back-up must be able to supply at least 8. In contrast to much of the other equipment used at grade crossings. Crossing Bells Highway crossing flashers are often augmented by bells to warn pedestrians. Proper focus. with a provision for automatic switch-over to 10-Volt dc power from the back-up batteries when ac power is interrupted. the failure of the flasher relay can. and a shunt is alternately applied across each bulb (see below). Voltage from a battery or ac transformer is applied to the ends of the flashing light string. bells are considered non-vital. The flashing lights at crossings are usually powered by 10-Volt ac power from a lighting transformer.

Prevent cars from becoming “trapped” on the grade crossing by a red traffic light 3. and the traffic engineer is allowed to use the contacts in any way desired. 1. Unlike most railroad signal wiring. FRA regulations require the sounding of a locomotive’s horn at all highway crossings. This may be as little as 5 seconds. but it usually takes the form of a set of “dry” relay contacts. it is confusing when motorists are given a green traffic light to proceed into an intersection which is blocked on the far side by an occupied grade crossing) 5.g. The overall objective is to coordinate the operation of the traffic lights with the crossing warning system so that both systems are more effective. and they are not designed to be fail-safe. Due to long-term reliability problems. Prevent traffic tie-ups caused by intersections filled with cars that were trapped by a green traffic light and an occupied grade crossing. electro-mechanical bells are gradually being replaced by electronic bells. rust. most traffic light control systems use 120-Volt ac power. these bells are less subject to problems caused by ice. and caution must be used when working near these circuits in the railroad signaling enclosure Often the traffic engineer will require an advance warning prior to the operation of the crossing’s warning devices. The specific goals of traffic preemption vary with the location and design of the intersection and grade crossing. worn contacts. application has been limited to a few demonstration sites. With no gross mechanical moving parts. or lack of lubrication. Prevent motorist confusion which can lead to accidents (e. but are still considered non-vital.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits proper functioning is not automatically checked by the system. except where four-quadrant gates or other special protective features have been installed. and 4-125 . Prevent gates from being lowered on top of “trapped” cars (this helps reduce gate arm breakage and claims for automobile damage) 4. which are provided to the local traffic engineer by the railroad. Highway Crossing Traffic Preemption Highway crossing traffic preemption is the practice of interconnecting the grade crossing warning devices with the highway traffic signal lights. Electronic bells use a weatherproof speaker connected to an amplifier and bell synthesizer. or as much as 30 seconds in unusual situations. This advance warning allows time to alter the normal cycle of the traffic lights. but they can include: 2. solid-state horns attached to the highway crossing signal have been investigated as an alternative to late-night locomotive horn blowing at crossings in residential areas. Mimicking the sound of a locomotive’s horn. This is often done where a grade crossing is located close to (or even within) a highway intersection. The form of the interface between the crossing warning system and the traffic lights can vary. To-date. which carries low-voltage dc current. A relatively new type of audible warning device is the stationary directional horn. This relay is located in the railroad signal enclosure at the crossing.

so that any accumulated highway traffic has been allowed to proceed. progress in railroad signaling has generally been evolutionary in nature. the successful implementation of new signaling and train control technologies lags behind the inventors in this area. the use of slotted waveguides along the track to convey radar signals to moving trains was “ready to go” immediately following W. and exact position of a train could theoretically be measured in real-time. and it will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.R. Ideally. By being aware of the myriad proposed “solutions” which have come and gone over the decades. under the weight of each wheel.) to observe the location of minute deformations in the cladding of the fiber. This would use Optical Time-Domain Reflectometry (O. More recently. gates.W.T. Alternatives to Track Circuits Although track circuits are the dominant standard for train detection in North America. persons responsible for solving railroad EMI/EMC problems can avoid investing time and resources in propositions that offer no realistic chance of successful outcome. Another system that has recently been proposed is the use of trackside buried magnetometers to detect the presence of a train by its effect on the earth’s magnetic field (see below). or under the tracks. With the possible exception of Robinson’s original track circuit. For example. Communication-Based Crossing Warning Systems One of the market forces driving invention in the area of crossing warning systems is the relatively wide gap between the cost of a simple crossbuck sign placed at a rural low-traffic grade crossing. the speed.II.D. However. and a conventional crossing warning system with lights. and the residual traffic has been brought to a stop before approaching the grade crossing. this technique still has not yet come into use. this sequence is completed before the crossing’s warning devices are activated. and all other highway traffic is stopped. and then begin executing a modified traffic light routine. bells. proposals have been advanced which call for optical fibers to be imbedded lengthwise in the railhead. In an attempt to fill this gap. which does not need to travel across the grade crossing. followed by a yellow and a red light. a system consisting of two different types of solar-powered standalone flasher units with low-power radio transceivers and GPS receivers has been developed by 4-126 . direction. and a signal equipment enclosure with large backup batteries and an electric utility connection. Sophisticated traffic preemption systems do all of the above. By doing so. However.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits can be used to “flush out” traffic traveling across the grade crossing. wherein all traffic. This is usually done by providing a green traffic light for several seconds to cars traveling across the grade crossing. the quest for improved signal system performance has led to the exploration of many alternative technologies. is allowed to flow normally. rather than revolutionary.

Some wheel detectors consist of a variable-reluctance magnetic device that works in a fashion similar to a magneto. These are similar to the wheel detectors used in “Axle-Counter” signaling systems. Magnetometer and ultrasound technologies are used at the crossing to determine the occupancy status of the island. and has been under evaluation for use at rural grade crossings previously equipped only with a crossbuck sign. The transceivers listen for a broadcast from a low-powered on-board radio beacon carried by the train. The potentially lower installed cost of this crossing warning system. as determined via an on-board GPS receiver (and other methods). As trains are made primarily of ferrous metal. but the physical presence of a passing railroad wheel. Nebraska. these systems have been tested at limited locations. which may prevent it from being considered “vital” in the strict railroad sense of that term. as compared to conventional crossing warning systems. perhaps most notably in their detection of submarines. of Omaha. and have yet to be embraced by the railroad signal world as a whole.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits C3 Trans Systems LLC. Magnetometers The distorting effects that iron and steel have on the Earth’s magnetic field can be detected by a device known as a magnetometer. These wheel detectors can be adversely influenced by heavy ac or transient dc currents flowing through the rail. Magnetometers have been used by the navies of the world to detect the presence of large pieces of ferrous metal for decades. These are often used in conjunction with wayside hazard detectors. Wheel Detectors Wheel detectors are a form of presence detection that responds not to the presence of a shunt across the track. One company. and the rapid changes in flux induce current into a coil that is wrapped around the core. at this time. More sophisticated wheel detectors 4-127 . as can happen on electrified railroads. it may also hold significant promise for improving safety at rural grade crossings in a non-vital fashion. this would seem to be an ideal application of this technology. EVA Signal. may make it especially attractive for installation at the large number of rural crossings in North America presently equipped with only a crossbuck sign for (passive) crossing protection. However. has developed a crossing warning system based on this technology. Although this system relies on non-vital radio communications in order to activate the crossing warning devices. and the flasher units activate themselves when the train is determined to be approximately 30 seconds away. The passing wheel flange changes the flux pattern surrounding a permanent magnet core. This beacon continuously transmits the train’s position. Bidirectional communications between the unit on the train and the crossing units provides additional system health monitoring and data recording capabilities.

the system initially lacked the ability to determine exactly which track a train was on with absolute certainty. and Canada in lieu of the track circuit. and Canada long before U. the onerous periodic inspection requirements attached to the approved FRA waiver have done little to encourage further consideration of this technology as a substitute for the track circuit in the United States.A.S. which is one of the primary functions performed by track circuits.S. The ARES system. it suffers from several drawbacks as a sole means of train detection.. as the only permissible means of train detection. Mechanical treadle wheel detectors are still common in Europe.S. at best. Outside of the U. federal regulations enacted in 1939 mandated the use of track circuits.S.A. For example. Asia. and elsewhere. axle counters are incapable of detecting a broken rail. Hall-effect and Wiegand-wire technologies are also used in wheel detectors. their use in Signal Control and Route Locking became a de-facto standard throughout the U. In many instances. It suffered from several difficulties. the most serious of which was probably its positional accuracy. was a first attempt to build a signaling system using G.A. particularly under circumstances where a track circuit’s shunting performance or low ballast-resistance capability may be in doubt.S. This type of wheel detector is generally considered to be traction-current-immune. and will likely be a component of many significant advances in railroad signaling. However. is often the first “solution” that occurs to engineers unfamiliar with the intricacies of railroad signaling. or where track circuits become unduly expensive to install and maintain due to track construction or electric propulsion considerations. When later forms of train detection became available. without exception. With closely-spaced parallel tracks. or G. developed and tested by Rockwell International and the Burlington Northern railroad in the 1980s. because they are.S. Recently. Axle counters do offer some benefits. the axle counting system is less expensive than track circuits to install and maintain. and so this system faced significant technical challenges from the beginning. inferior to the track circuit in terms of functionality and performance. particularly on light traffic single-track main lines. 4-128 .P. Although it holds great promise for the future. the now widespread use of the Global Positioning System.S. Axle-counting block systems have not gained acceptance in the U. Because track circuits were immediately successful as a means of train detection. Axle Counters The development and deployment of signaling technology in North America generally preceded corresponding work in Europe.A.. axle counters continue to enjoy widespread and increasing usage on lines with light to moderate traffic.P. to determine the locations of trains. most notably AxleCounting Block systems using the Wheel Detectors mentioned above. Global Positioning Systems When traditional track circuits seem unworkable.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits employ an eddy-killed oscillator circuit that is detuned by the presence of the wheel flange. they were accepted outside of the U. the FRA granted permission to substitute axle-counting block systems for trouble-prone track circuits on a group of steel-deck bridges.

A. No one was injured. then the locomotive can continuously determine its location using the signals from the G.S. receiver on a locomotive. Any system proposing to use G. Coast Guard (ships use them for precision navigation while docking in foggy ports).Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The recent peacetime removal of the “Selective Availability” encoding. which normally degrades the accuracy of commercial G.P. Fortunately.S. it will have to provide such obvious cost savings to the railroad that its adoption will be an economic necessity. Eventually. using the location and direction-of-travel of the locomotive. when the brakes on a string of cars were not properly set. may allow this technology to develop further. they finally stopped when they collided at low speed with other cars on the track. stations will be established at airports and other locations across the United States. satellites. providing the proper amount of warning time at each grade crossing. receivers.” . these motorists were never placed at risk.S. After traveling for several miles completely unattended.S. which were parked on a siding in the Los Angeles area.P. But there were no accidents at the grade crossings they passed through. were apparently released by vandals.P. and managed to enter a main line. These cars began rolling downhill. and a database of information including the “consist” of the train. it will have to offer some advantage or benefit that is currently unavailable from the existing systems. in order to allow for a transition period of perhaps several years.”. Being of modern design. nor were any other trains allowed by the signal system to enter the track they were on.A..S. making high-accuracy positional fixes possible almost anywhere within the continental U. First.S. let’s look at an example: If you place a G. Such differential G. and the cars continued to roll.A.A. receivers can be enhanced by the reception of a reference signal from a local earth-based transmitter in a technique known as “Differential G.P. But what if a single car got loose or was accidentally left behind during switching operations? In the 1990s.S. Thirdly. And the location of the rest of the cars in the train could be calculated. 25 which refer to this as “W. A similar incident happened roughly a decade later. and the unattended string of cars rolled for many miles before derailing.S.P.A. and the Federal Aviation Administration (F.S.). stations are becoming increasingly widespread in the U. And finally. to replace track circuits for train location will face several engineering and economic challenges.P.S. All of the crossing warning systems along the way functioned perfectly. it will need to be interoperable with the rest of the existing signal system used by a railroad. a network of differential G. thanks to active efforts by the U. stands for: Wide-Area Augmentation System.P. Furthermore. Second. the accuracy of properly equipped G. It is perhaps this third requirement that has prevented the adoption of the majority of new systems proposed. the 25 W. The incline of the main line was favorable. To illustrate these requirements. track-circuit-based signal systems do not discriminate between intentional and accidental railroad traffic.A.S.S. the brakes on a string of railroad cars.S.A. And although many motorists were probably surprised and confused to see a string of cars moving on their own through a grade crossing. 4-129 .P. it must continue to provide all of the functionality currently provided by a track-circuit-based signal system.

The train’s crew would stop the train. a G.P. many hazard detectors such as dragging equipment detectors were interconnected with the signal system.-based system could conceivably require the installation of a G.S. When any hazard was detected. receiver and some form of 2-way radio communications equipment on every single railroad car.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits microprocessor-based crossing warning systems even recorded the speed of the cars. and investigate all potential hazards. encroachment Vehicle Detectors Hotbox (overheated axle bearing) Excess Clearance Dragging Equipment Hot Wheel (sticking brakes) Broken Flange Loose Wheel Cracked Wheel Wheel Impact Load (flat spots on wheels) Dragging Brake Hose Couplings Track Scale A.E. Hazard Detectors There is also a third category of equipment that we have assembled for purposes of this railroad signaling equipment overview – that of Hazard Detectors. which was later downloaded during the accident investigation. now only railway hazard detectors such as slide fences remain interconnected with the signal system in the old way. Hazard detectors are commonly utilized in both signaled and non-signaled territory to alert railroad personnel to the presence of unusual hazards that could affect the safety or efficiency of train operations. Hazard detectors may be classified in two distinct categories: Roadway Detectors Rock Slide Earth Slippage Bridge Displacement High Water Fire (bridges) R. Maintenance and reliability concerns aside.W. the overwhelming cost implications of this solution are obvious.S. 4-130 .O. a restrictive signal indication (usually a red wayside signal – meaning STOP) was presented to the affected train(s).P. With the advent of microprocessor-based “talkers” (hazard detectors that broadcast specific synthesized or pre-recorded warning messages directly to trains via VHF radio). Tag Reader In the past. In order to provide this sort of robust functionality and safety.I.

The simplest form of a slide fence consists of a long thin wire strung between poles where it would hopefully be broken 4-131 . or some other unwanted source of infrared energy. or trees. Slide Fences Slide fences are systems designed to detect the displacement of nearby rocks. Hotbox Detectors In the case of hotbox detectors. This would require the train to stop. such as chips. Otherwise. However. these are still relatively rare in North America. This ensures that the hotbox detector responds only to heat produced by a passing bearing. dirt. and the train’s crew would have to physically inspect every axle of the train – usually on foot. Most of these are used to detect advancing failure conditions in the wheels themselves.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Wheel Defect Detectors There is an amazing and ever-expanding variety of devices designed to perform an automated inspection of the geometry and general physical condition of railroad wheels. “false positives” could be reported by the system in response to direct or indirect sunlight. cracks. a wheel detector or short track circuit controls operation of the hotbox detector so that the infrared sensor only scans its field-of-view when there is an axle bearing passing by. and flat-spots. but other following trains as well. This can be very costly for a busy railroad line. which might foul (obstruct) the tracks and potentially cause a derailment. Figure 4-84 Typical Wayside Hazard Detector Location having Hotbox and Hot Wheel Detectors The delay caused by this false alarm may not affect only the stopped train. with respect to the other types of equipment used on railroads. and will be found only in limited numbers on a given railroad. snow.

Passive tags can carry a limited amount of information. usually little more than a number which uniquely identifies the car. Railroads have a need to know where every carload of goods is at any given time. which can be knocked down or moved by an avalanche. which may be passive or active in nature. Active tags can have on-board memory. By scanning the tag number of every car as it passes a location on the railroad. and battery back-up. Tag Readers Almost every railroad car in use now carries a small electronic device attached to its side known simply as a “tag”.) Other forms of slide fences include boards or paddles. the slide fence is constructed on the poles overhanging the track. large railroads can easily track long-distance shipments for their customers. This device is actually a transponder. In either case the concept is the same.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits by a significant displacement. Figure 4-85 Rock Slide in an Area Protected by an Overhead Slide Fence (Note the many insulators on the pole arms. sensors. 4-132 . connected to a switch circuit controller. In the picture below.

E.O.T. allowing the engineer to promptly accelerate the train after observing that all slack in the train has been taken up.M. the temperature of a refrigerated shipment can be monitored. contains a unique digital I.O. This could be a lifesaver in the event that the train’s brake pipe.M.. 4-133 . A.’s feature a motion sensing capability. and the last car of the train has begun to move. End-of-Train Monitoring (E. in the mid-1980s. Thus the brake pipe both controls the operation of. Transmissions are routinely made once every 30 seconds.M. the brakes are actually applied by the use of compressed air contained in one or more of the reservoirs carried on each railroad car. And a subsequent increase in brake pipe pressure releases the brakes again. usually via a dedicated 452 or 457 MHz UHF radio channel.M.M.T. units. and are applied by removing the pressure from this pipe (it’s really a flexible hose at each car-to-car coupling). and are made immediately upon a change in brake pipe pressure or other data. The amount of braking is controlled by the amount of pressure reduction in the brake pipe. To ensure continuous communications with the locomotive.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits But beyond simple carload tracking. an increasing number of on-board parameters are being measured.M. each E. includes a high visibility flashing red marker. An obstructed brake pipe could prevent the brakes from being applied on any 26 The brakes of a train are released by pressurizing the brake pipe.T. Cabooses had been used as a location for the train’s crew to monitor the air pressure in the train’s brake pipe. Today’s E. tag readers (for: Automatic Equipment Identification) may use wheel detectors to determine the train’s direction of travel as the train moves past the tag reader’s interrogator antenna. the train’s brakes. In order to avoid interference from other nearby E.M. allowing for the elimination of cabooses on most freight trains.I. Surprisingly. For example. and releases the brakes once the reservoirs are adequately pressurized (or if the reservoirs are completely empty). is to transmit brake pipe pressure data to the locomotive engineer.T. telemetry devices were first introduced in the 1960s.T. with distinct “normal service” and “emergency” braking modes.S. at the rear of their particular train before departure.O.O.M.M. and supplies compressed air to.T.A. wayside radio repeaters have been found necessary in tunnels and on tangent track in exceptionally flat terrain.E. Any subsequent drop in brake pipe pressure causes the pneumatic logic to use air from the reservoirs to apply the brakes. the train’s crew could be alerted to the problem. somehow became 26 obstructed .O. and their use became widespread throughout the U. The primary purpose of the E. The head-end receiver unit must be manually preset by the engineer to link-up with the E.T.O.O. and if dangerously high.T.’s used in mountainous territory are now required to provide two-way communications capability.M. The pneumatic logic unit refills these reservoirs while the brake pipe is pressurized. and to operate the brakes from the rear of the train in an emergency. Variable braking force is possible only in the “normal” mode.T. This is controlled by a pneumatic logic unit on each railroad car.D. which allows the engineer to initiate an emergency brake application from the rear end of the train. Some E.O.O.T. illuminated only in darkness. code. This works in conjunction with a remotely controlled air valve inside the E.O.) E. Knowledge of the train’s direction is necessary in order to make sure that the goods are heading in the proper direction.

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits railroad cars beyond the obstruction behind the train. particularly in the area of switches. air-driven turbines.) (U.’s are powered by an ordinary rechargeable battery. Figure 4-86 Typical End-of-Train-Monitor (E. 4-134 . solar cells. most E.S. etc.O.) Although various alternative power sources including fuel cells.M. Inc.O. leaving most of the train’s cars without brakes.M. In a worst-case scenario. In these instances.T. the obstruction would occur somewhere close to the locomotive. Other Miscellaneous Track-Mounted Signal Equipment Gauge Plates and Gauge Rods There are numerous locations along a railroad track. where the gauge of the track must be carefully maintained despite unusual lateral forces.T. special structures are attached to the rails to keep them at the correct gauge (railhead-to-railhead spacing).&S. have been tried on an experimental basis..

without creating an electrical connection. Inc.) 4-135 .&S.S.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-87 Gauge Plates and Gauge Rods In order to be compatible with the signaling systems used. these structures must provide a mechanical connection between opposite rails of the track. Figure 4-88 Insulation of Switch Gage Plates and Rods Prevents Unintended Short Circuiting of Track Circuits (U.

4-136 . depending on the type of switch (trailing or facing). gates in fences leading into industrial plants. This false shunt may be present continuously. and may seem to have disappeared even though it is still present to some degree. including bolts with insulating sleeves or “thimbles” on them.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Gauge rods and plates are constructed using several of the same techniques as insulated joints. of an impedance greater than 10 Ohms. and insulating pads placed between the metal parts. etc. The actual impedance of this false shunt may vary widely. A rough rule of thumb for signaling says that any shunt across the tracks. Switch Circuit Controllers Switch circuit controllers serve to detect the physical position of a track switch. or may appear and disappear as a function of temperature. Signal control circuits are passed through normally-closed contacts of the switch circuit controller. This is possible due to the lowimpedance nature of railroad track circuits. They do this by having metallic contacts operated by cams that are indirectly mechanically coupled to the “points” of the moveable rails at a switch. Figure 4-89 Deteriorated Insulation and Reduced Clearances on Gauge Plates If the insulation on these structures should fail. Switch circuit controllers also may be used to detect the positions of other wayside devices such as: derails. the result may be a false shunt across the tracks. is essentially invisible to the signal system under most conditions. slide fences. Signals governing train movement over the switch will display their most restrictive aspect if the points of the switch are open to a distance of either 1/4" or 3/8".

In general. electric locks are required on hand-operated switches in C.T. A quick release feature is also provided to minimize the waiting time when exiting the main track. Most electric locks are provided with an emergency release feature.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-90 Typical Hand-Operated Switch with Circuit Controller (silver box in upper right corner) Electric Switch Locks An electric lock is a device that locks a manually-operated track switch in place. territory where trains are permitted to leave the main tracks via a spur track or un-signaled siding.C.S. when the operation of this switch could affect the safety of train operations. and release the lock if electrical power or communications between dispatch and the electric lock have failed. which is usually enabled by a simple overlay track circuit immediately adjacent to the switch.. This happens primarily when there are industrial spur tracks (sidings) that diverge from a main line controlled by a centralized traffic control system. and a pre-determined time interval has elapsed. allowing the train crew to break a seal on the electric lock enclosure. and the selection of electric lock types is a matter of railroad preference: 4-137 . Electric locks within interlocking limits are controlled (released) by the dispatcher. A time-release feature permits release of the lock once the padlock on the enclosure of the electric switch lock has been removed. Two different types of electric locks have been installed in the U. The electric lock serves as a substitute for a remotely controlled interlocking control point at seldom-used hand-operated switches by preventing the switch from being opened (set “reversed”) when a conflicting train move is approaching on the main line.

4-138 . and point detector rod connections to the switch points. control points where traffic conditions justify a means of quickly aligning routes prior to the arrival of a train. Switch Machines Similar to its power-operated counterpart.C.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits 1. this prevents the train crew from having to stop and manually throw the switch. By aligning the switch to the correct track before the train arrives. the hand-operated switch machine has operating rod. Power switch machines are sometimes used on a stand-alone basis to save time in switching yards and other places where frequent manipulation of switches is required. lock rod. lever-locking electric locks that serve only to lock the hand-throw lever of the switch stand. redundant means of securing the switch points. Figure 4-91 Hand-Operated Switch Machine Power-operated switch machines are usually associated with interlockings or C.T. and 2. and in some yard applications may be thrown by the train crew by remote control. plunger-locking electric locks that provide an independent.

S. enabling train crews to manually throw the switch in the event of a power or communications failure. Figure 4-93 Typical Dual-Control Electric Switch Machine 4-139 . This motor is connected to a reduction gearbox.) A majority of power switch machines in service throughout North America are electricallycontrolled electrically-powered mechanisms employing a DC motor rated at 24 or 110 volts dc. Many of these switch machines are equipped with a dual-control lever. Inc. because of the need for battery backup. which provides the necessary mechanical advantage to move the rails or “points” of the switch. DC power is often used.&S.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-92 Typical Electric Yard Switch Machine with Circuit Controller (U.

busy passenger terminal interlockings. Similarly. Switch machines employing self-contained electro-hydraulic mechanisms of European design have been installed in a handful of locations throughout North America. all-electric mechanism using a gear train for torque multiplication and a scotch yoke for rotary-to-linear motion translation.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Used primarily in large. the expense of installing and maintaining an air distribution system has led to a gradual decline in the total number of E-P switching yards. rugged. However. The simple. the electrohydraulic design has not proven advantageous over the simple. linear motors have yet to be demonstrated as a practical means of operating switch points. rugged E-P switch machine provides more rapid action than its all-electric counterpart. In general. Inc. the electro-pneumatic (E-P) switch machine is electrically controlled and pneumatically operated.) 4-140 . Figure 4-94 Typical Electro-Pneumatic Switch Machine and Valve Figure 4-95 Electro-Hydraulic Switch Operator (RTI.

However. This is due to the differences in the nature of the propulsion current. but the circuits controlling them can be. In order to deliver the same amount of power. only a limited number of these necessarily thicker windings can be fitted into the allotted space. 4-141 . Impedance Bonds Although they were briefly discussed together (above). DC systems often use low (600 Volt) propulsion current delivered via a third-rail conductor. the use of concrete ties or slab track construction precludes the placement of impedance bonds between the rails. Most are pushbutton operated. which often use voltages approaching 25 KV from an overhead wire. contain 17 gallons of mineral oil (for heat dissipation). Electric switch machines of European or Asian manufacture for trolleys usually employ 380 V ac or 600 V ac motors. This contrasts with ac systems.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits However. One function of an impedance bond in dc propulsion territory is to provide the highest possible rail-to-rail impedance for ac signaling frequencies. since many railways now place their impedance bonds off to one side of the track. the impedance bonds used in dc propulsion territory differ significantly from those used in ac propulsion territory. the currents involved in these two systems differ greatly. Higher rail-to-rail signaling frequency impedances and higher ampacity ratings could be readily obtainable. due to the availability of this type of power on those systems. This is not necessarily a problem. In order to achieve this. a substantial number of low-cost self-contained electro-hydraulic switch operator packages have been installed in small switching yards. switch machines themselves are generally not susceptible. the electro-hydraulic switch operator serves to reduce the physical burden associated with the frequent throwing of hand-operated switches in non-signaled territory. which is where impedance bonds have historically been located. away from the potentially damaging reach of mechanized track-maintenance equipment. For power-frequency track circuits in dc propulsion territory. such a bond would probably be too big to fit between the rails. some switches of this type have been equipped with radio-based remote controls. Using solar energy and a photovoltaic cell to recharge a 12-Volt battery. and on non-signaled secondary trackage. and has a 10-turn track winding composed of copper strips with a crosssection measuring 1/4"x5". in recent times. In some cases. In terms of susceptibility to ac interference. Its rail-to-rail dc resistance is less than 30 micro-ohms. As the propulsion return currents are generally much higher in low-voltage (600 Volt) dc propulsion territory. a large laminated magnetic core must be wound with as many turns as possible. a typical impedance bond with a continuous 2500 amp-per-rail rating weighs roughly 1000 lbs. however. Some switch machines used for trolleys and other street railways employ 600 Volt dc solenoids as their drive mechanism.

4 to 2. boosting its rail-to-rail impedance from 0. and the track circuit becomes shunted by the impedance bond. the rail-to-rail impedance returns to its nominal value. however. unbalanced flow of DC current flowing through opposing halves will significantly magnetize and saturate the core.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-96 Typical Construction of Impedance Bond Used on Power Frequency Track Circuits in DC Propulsion Territory Ideally. The air gap feature is an undesirable compromise. A significant degree of saturation in the impedance bond’s core is detrimental because it reduces the bond’s rail-to-rail ac impedance. producing little or no net flux within the core. 4-142 . typically between 0. Under severe unbalance conditions (greater than 10-12% of the net ampacity rating) the rail-to-rail impedance drops to nearly the dc resistance of the windings. To counteract the adverse effect of widening the air gap. In real-world operation. the impedance bond may be resonated (parallel resonance – looks more like an “open”).170" in length. Where multiple track circuit frequencies are used. however. To reduce the high levels of flux produced by imbalance.040" and 0. since it significantly reduces the nominal rail-to-rail impedance. the bond may be made resonant at more than one frequency. the core is provided with an air gap.0 ohms at the signaling frequency (typical values for a specific type of bond). opposing fluxes produced by equal currents flowing through the side leads of an impedance bond will cancel. Once the unbalanced current flow ceases.

perhaps over 20 amps at the feed-end of the circuit. the cab signal transmit current would be unacceptably high. and surge protector are significant considerations. particularly in cab signal territory where a very high feed-end voltage (>18 volts) is required to provide 3 amps of axle current at the opposite end of a 4. much of the power would be dissipated (wasted) in the feed-end bond. these are generally limited to applications on very short track circuits with low (0. as may happen when the first or last axle passes over staggered insulated joints. One difficulty with resonated bonds is the incompatibility between resonated bonds and AFO’s.25 ohms at 25 Hz. capacitor. Although some very old impedance bonds have rail-to-rail impedances as low as 0. With un-resonated bonds. 750 VDC Propulsion Territory. The added cost and diminished reliability of the resonating winding. Unless the resonating circuit is specifically designed to accommodate AFO’s. produced by a sharp asymmetrical step change in the dc current flowing through the bond. Also.06 ohm) shunting sensitivity. the bond will generally exhibit a low rail-to-rail impedance at frequencies below 10 KHz. 100 Hz Track Circuits. Impedance Bonds Rated 2500 Amps Per Rail Aside from improving the impedance bond’s ability to tolerate imbalance. 4-143 .500-foot track circuit. Oil-filled resonating capacitors rated at 660 V ac are susceptible to failure when subjected to very high voltage spikes. the resonating of impedance bonds is often beneficial in improving track circuit performance.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-97 Typical Impedance Bond Layout.

180 amps for a 1500 amp-per-rail bond). their characteristics and ratings are frequently in dispute. a high current fault between the third rail and running rail destroyed the resonating units in six nearby impedance bonds. Many impedance bonds manufactured outside the U. Differing techniques for testing and interpreting test results have been developed over many years.S. Impedance bonds manufactured per AREMA recommendations must maintain at least 90% of their nominal rail-rail impedance when subjected to a 12% imbalance condition (i.e. surge protectors tend to have a finite life. but low imbalance tolerance. Surge arrestors so used must be protected against contamination by oil or moisture. this may result in a failure of the capacitor after the suppressor has become ineffective in suppressing surges. have a relatively high rail-to-rail impedance. Because impedance bonds are expensive (up to several percentage points of the entire capital cost of railroad electrification). resulting in a detuning of the resonating circuit when the surge arrestor becomes shorted. In one incident. The size. Alternatively.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-98 Various Types of Resonating Circuits for Power Frequency Impedance Bonds One method to improve this situation is to add surge protection devices across the resonating capacitor.A. sometimes yielding inconsistent or incomparable ratings. 4-144 . weight. and manufacturing cost of an impedance bond is primarily dependent on its ampacity rating. However.

Impedance Bond Rated 3000 Amps per Rail 4-145 . Impedance Bonds Rated 300 Amps per Rail Figure 4-100 Typical Impedance Bond Layout for Audio-Frequency Track Circuits. 12 kV. 25 Hz Propulsion Territory. 1-5 kHz Track Circuits.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-99 Typical Impedance Bond Layout. 100 Hz Track Circuits. 750 VDC Propulsion Territory.

The benefits of dynamic and/or regenerative braking also were important considerations where loaded coal trains descended long grades. Systems operating at 50 kV. Elsewhere. Worldwide. electrification as a substitute for steam motive power overcame many obstacles and inefficiencies in railway operation. the running rails are electrically isolated from the propulsion system. the de-facto standard is 25 kV. During this era. As with other types of electric traction systems. one-man operation of single-car trains such as urban and inter-urban trolleys. However. the track (one or both running rails) serves as the return path.. Rapid acceleration. Electric propulsion of trains was recognized as mandatory for underground rapid transit systems. because: 1) the signal system must be absolutely immune to the effects of stray propulsion currents. In this system. During the 1890s.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Other Signaling Topics Electric Traction Circuits On an electrically propelled railway. in some instances for up to an hour or more. Many older systems employing 3 kV dc or 15 kV. Elsewhere. 4-146 . 50 Hz. The most important advantages of third rail systems over catenary-wire systems are the reduced vertical height of the tunnels required. Electric traction systems invariably dictate the use of more sophisticated signaling systems. rapid transit systems such as subways almost invariably employ low voltage (600 volt) dc energy distributed by third rails. For new mainline and high-speed rail systems not required to be interoperable with existing wayside equipment and rolling stock. nominal third-rail propulsion voltages range from 550 to 1000 V dc. With the exception of small people movers. 50 Hz have been built. bi-directional operating capability and high rolling stock availability prompted electrification of many busy commuter districts. and transmitted to railroad-owned substations located every 1-25 miles along the railroad line. where separate positive and negative contact rails are provided. electric propulsion allowed economical. the savings made possible by the increased substation spacing at this voltage do not appear to offset the added cost and other disadvantages of high catenary voltages. various forms of dc electric propulsion systems for railways were developed. Power is generated centrally. and the elimination of the complexities surrounding the installation of catenary supports on bridge structures. electric propulsion of trains is widespread and slowly growing. Electric propulsion in mountainous territory was advantageous for several reasons.S. most notability the ability to temporarily overload the electric locomotive to nearly double its continuous horsepower rating. third rail voltages up to 1500 V dc have been used. Issues involving the inter-relationship of signaling and electric traction systems are pertinent to the subject of utility-railroad EMC coordination. One notable exception is the extensive 4-rail system of the London Underground. Some railway electrifications exploited inexpensive hydro-electric energy resources. In the U. traction power is distributed to moving trains via an overhead wire or third rail.A. the first ac electrification occurred circa 1911. 16-2/3 Hz will remain in-service indefinitely. and 2) electric traction systems are typically used only in dense traffic corridors where high speeds and short headways between trains are the norm.

Cases on record show that corrosion and rupture of newly-laid underground pipelines can occur in as little as 12-18 months as a result of electrolytic corrosion from incorrectly-polarized dc propulsion currents. since very high currents are needed to develop several thousand horsepower at 600-750 volts.000 kcmil cable paralleling each track. Electrolysis cannot occur unless the underground conductor has a positive potential of about 0.75 volts or higher with respect to the surrounding earth. In some instances. contactors may be installed to isolate certain sections of track unless or until they are occupied by a train. Electrolysis is a pervasive problem usually mitigated by careful maintenance of rail bonding. the resistance of the return network must be reduced by augmenting its conductivity. This approach reduces. but does not eliminate. the steel bars used to reinforce concrete. flashover. Distribution of the motive power throughout the multiple-unit train (typically 500-750 horsepower/car) has also proven advantageous because the propulsion current is collected by a large number of current-collection shoes. impressed potential systems have been installed to counteract both natural and manmade dc currents. In some instances. In rare instances. Additionally. Electrolysis problems also are mitigated by modern track construction and maintenance techniques that exhibit very high rail-earth resistance. Long-standing electrolysis control committees have become an institution in some major cities. and personnel safety. the insulated contact wire or rail is always of positive polarity with respect to the un-insulated running rails that form the return path. which is typically of low ballast resistance. Lead-sheathed cable. In a dc propulsion system.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Unavoidable reactance losses in the third rail and track eliminate any consideration of ac power with third-rail systems. these systems pass current from a sacrificial positive anode to maintain a negative potential on the protected object. third rail voltages cannot be raised significantly without encountering significant difficulties with clearances. the possibility of electrolysis in an underground metallic object in the vicinity of the railway and its substations. may be isolated from mainline trackage by contactors or diodes to minimize ‘sinking’ of dc propulsion current into the earth. typically by using a 2. screens or reinforcing bars are sometimes employed to intercept dc current leaking from the rails to earth. with respect to “remote earth”. and metallic tunnel shells are also subject to electrolytic wasting. Close cooperation between the railway and affected utilities is essential to controlling electrolysis. Embedded wires. The return network for yard trackage. Figure 4-101 Electrolysis of Underground Structures Caused by Unwanted DC Current Flow 4-147 .

The dc current flowing through the transformer’s primary or secondary winding produces a non-varying flux in the core. Very high levels of stray dc may tend to open fuses or damage conductors and equipment such as transformers.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Unwanted dc current flowing through the electric utilities’ multi-grounded neutral networks is generally attributable to the same causes as electrolysis. As the ac flux component reaches its peak in the same direction. the core material is driven into saturation. Less copper and lighter weight of catenary. Figure 4-102 Electric Traction Fed by Overhead Wire and Contact Rail 4-148 . Greater spacing between substations. This problem is particularly difficult to investigate due to the wide fluctuations in localized dc current flow associated with moving trains. including electrolysis of ground rods and water pipes at negative potential points where dc current leaves the conductors. AC propulsion systems have several very important advantages over dc systems: • • • • • • Freedom from the scourge of electrolysis. Another serious problem involving stray dc current is the asymmetrical saturation of transformers. namely poor bonding or other inadequacies in the railway’s propulsion current return network. Lower. The result is transformer overheating and waveform distortion with strong 4th-harmonic content. Ability to deliver higher levels of power at high speeds. Similar difficulties due to core saturation are sometimes experienced on long-distance transmission lines due to geo-magnetically induced currents attributable to solar flares. Ability of protective relaying system to discriminate between loads and faults. controllable fault currents. Lesser amounts of stray dc current flow produce more subtle effects.

the importance of railway signaling is underscored by the fact that more than half of the annual 1.A. costly assets such as track.000-ton trains passing at 50 M. Vitality.H. several times per hour on a busy freight line.S. etc. or unloading of cars. and Fail-Safe Design Concerning matters of safety and efficiency. train crews. 4-149 . The importance of achieving safety in control is illustrated by a series of 12. Railroads have little control over the seemingly limitless number of customer-related factors that may affect the loading. motive power.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-103 Impedance Bonds with Electric Traction Figure 4-104 Various Wayside Signal Mountings Safety.P. movement. is carried over only 10% of its railroad network. Traffic flows tend to be sporadic with pronounced bursts and lulls.5 trillion ton-miles of traffic in the U. Freight train movements cannot be efficiently orchestrated in accordance with rigid schedules. rolling stock. High-density freight corridors typically handle in excess of 150 million gross tons per year on two or more main tracks. Efficient signaling substantially increases the productive capacity of railroads and their finite.

equipment. the use of specially designed fail-safe signaling components in vital applications has proven highly successful over a period of many decades. virtually all railway operators worldwide employ fail-safe signaling systems using specialized components and design techniques. circuits. Rather. Many of today’s design principles. and diminished productivity. Corresponding nuclear power system components critical to safety would be termed “Class 1E”. the term “vital” is synonymous with “seaworthy” or “airworthy” in the marine and aviation communities. train movements will either be stopped. respectively. Railroad signal systems are designed and constructed. The overall architecture of a railway signal system may be described as non-redundant. and ultimately dependent on devices.S. and equipment defects. signaling technology continues to evolve slowly and cautiously. Periodic inspection and testing of railroad signal equipment is required only where electrical or mechanical faults are not reliably self-revealing. such that any disarranged or broken part will cause one or more signals to display their most restrictive indication. and system having “fail-safe” characteristics. Because persons involved in railway signaling matters are generally intelligent. In the U. opting instead for equivalent protection by means of cross-checked redundant logic elements. Although train wrecks are significantly more frequent in certain third-world countries. In this sense. or will be prevented from starting. career-conscious engineers and craftsmen who must accept personal responsibility for the safety of the signaling system. or the inability to throw a switch. With few exceptions.A. few. the vast majority of these railway accidents are attributable to just two root causes: unsafe operating practices. Under these conditions. they are generally not attributable to signal system failure. yet neither term is explicitly defined under current FRA rules in 49 CFR 234 or 236. Non-vital components are those components whose failure or mis-operation cannot adversely impact the safety of train movements.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Any train can be operated in any territory without the benefit of a signal system. The term “vital”. singlefault-tolerant. fundamentally new causes have appeared over the past 100 years or so. greater transit time. Some European authorities have dismissed the notion of fail-safe components. and show themselves in the form of a restrictive signal indication. insofar as possible. as used by railroad signaling engineers. Another key principle in the design of railroad signaling equipment and systems is the requirement that the potential vital failure modes of a device or system must be self-revealing. or periodic test and inspection. if any. 4-150 . and materials would be familiar to signal engineers from the 1920-1960 era. While increasing emphasis has been placed on exhaustively investigating the circumstances and cause of each railway accident in recent years. The terms vital and fail-safe are often used interchangeably and indiscriminately. but only at a substantial penalty in terms of increased operating expense. Remote monitoring and diagnostic functions have not yet been accepted as a substitute for fail-safe design.. carries the connotation of being “essential to safety”.

as Shown by this Cracked Joint Bar Bridged with a Bondwire. The very nature of this business has dictated that U. Unfortunately. The failure modes and mechanisms are well understood and effectively controlled by FRAmandated test and inspection requirements. EMC problems generally cannot be easily identified or resolved using simple on/off test and substitution techniques. Approximately 150-200 false-proceed and potential false-proceed conditions are reported to the FRA annually. Railway signaling stands as one of the earliest examples of a life-safety system where human life and safety are solely dependent on the correct functioning of man-made instruments.S. Agonizing guesswork.A. However. Despite the many millions of pieces of railroad signal equipment in service today. not all of which can be confirmed.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Federal law in the U. endless testing. military and space programs in the mid-1950s. Many signal appliances manufactured today are direct descendants of designs initially created over 75 years ago. Correction of a defect thus requires only identification and replacement of the defective component or errant individual.S. and the underlying fault condition corrected “without undue delay” . Accidents caused by the failure of signal equipment occur at a rate so low as to be statistically insignificant. Figure 4-105 Track Circuits Provide Broken Rail Detection Capability. and tenuous risk analysis are unnecessary except in the most extreme cases. An obscure but invaluable feature of today’s signaling technology is its frequent ability to conclusively identify the specific component (or person) responsible for each and every failure. actual falseproceed signal indications are a fairly rare event.S. requires that the cause of each signal failure must be determined. Every False Proceed or Potential False Proceed failure must be reported to the FRA within twenty-four hours of its detection. Certain Defects are Undetectable in the Track Circuit 4-151 . railway signal equipment manufacturers maintain a policy of conservative design practices and rigorous quality control.which usually means prior to the next train movement. meaning that no discernable trends can be found in analyzing this data. and many signal appliances manufactured 50 years ago are still reliable and in service today. The design principles and safety requisites for railway signaling systems long pre-date MIL-STD-882 and related system safety analysis methodologies established in connection with U.

However. at least until more of the known problems with the existing signal technology have been successfully addressed. concepts such as statistical risk analysis. the necessity of these improvements became evident only after some unfortunate incident involving property damage or loss of life. redundancy. Despite continual economic pressure to minimize installation and maintenance costs. The railroad is also unique in comparison to aviation or nuclear energy. the track circuit is a simple. often fully depreciated for tax purposes in less than half of their useful life. No System Offers Protection Against All Conceivable Hazards 4-152 . Often. obvious or predictable to cognizant personnel based on past experience. in the event of a fault without incurring further risk. anytime. or defense-in-depth have yet to be accepted as a substitute for time-tested fail-safe design principles. Because of their specialized design and construction features. track circuits will probably never be the perfect solution to all railroad signaling problems. Nothing resembling to the track circuit has been developed for any other mode of transportation. Because most such incidents were. signal system components have exceptional reliability and longevity. many important improvements in equipment design and maintenance practices have been made over the past 125 years. For example. Thirty to fifty year old signal installations are common today. Despite the enviable safety record that railway-signaling systems continue to enjoy. Signal systems and their components are usually among the oldest useful assets of any railroad. because its trains can usually be safely stopped by passive default anywhere. Figure 4-106 Although Signal Systems and Track Circuits are Based Upon Fail-safe Design Principles. there remains a strong aversion to any innovation into uncharted territory.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The signal design techniques that have evolved capitalize on certain unique features of the railroad. in retrospect. and the ultimate life of a signal system is usually limited only by the integrity of its wire and cable insulation. highly reliable means of detecting train position.

T. and labor representatives. Several minor changes were made between 1960 and 1980. the majority of rules in today’s RS&I remain virtually unchanged from those established 1939. the fail-safe nature of the equipment assures that the vast majority of failures will be so-called “right-side” failures. following passage of the Signal Inspection Act in 1937. The RS&I rules were enacted on September First. Several 4-153 . Specific requirements and the text of the RS&I have been negotiated and re-negotiated on an ex-parte basis between Surface Transportation Board (S. However. Standards and Instructions The technical requirements concerning railway signal systems in the U.S.S. establishment of one national standard is still far preferable to the chaos that would surely accompany the establishment of individual state codes in this area. railroads.C.) or FRA staff members.e. The FRA’s jurisdiction is limited to mainline railroads and certain other rail carriers in the U. Part 236 contains more than 150 individual Rules. Signal equipment suppliers have generally avoided interjecting their voice in rulemaking matters. because the cause and effect relationship is often transient and thus difficult to observe and analyze. Rules.B. Title 49. along with the FRA’s sometimes-inconsistent interpretation and enforcement actions.C. Standards and Instructions (RS&I) pertaining to signals and train control systems. Most urban transit and light rail systems remain exempt from FRA regulations. distributors or installers of such equipment. in which the signal system takes appropriate action to protect the safety of the public. no technical or procedural regulations have yet been imposed upon manufacturers. formerly called the Interstate Commerce Commission or I. because their tracks are not considered to be “connected” to the North American rail network.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits The hazards arising from EMC issues are especially worrisome to the signal engineer.. railroads are quick to recognize equipment which does not assist them in their efforts to comply with these rules. Despite significant technological advancements over a period of 60+ years. The RS&I cover only the basic technical requirements and is notoriously vague in many instances. the painting of signals) or operating efficiency fell outside the safety mandate of the Signal Inspection Act. Part 234. The corresponding regulations for grade crossing signal system safety are in 49 CFR. Part 236. This means that the railroads could not be held liable after an accident just because they had not equipped every single wayside signal and grade crossing location with the very latest equipment. and the addition of rules for microprocessor-based systems in 2005. These regulations apply only to the operators of railroad signal systems. are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Railroads and labor have long bemoaned the ambiguity of certain rules. Important revisions to the RS&I were made in 1950. 1939. the 1937 Signal Inspection Act also bestowed upon respondent railroads a clause precluding tort action based on allegations that a specific type of signal system might have prevented an accident. Nonetheless. followed by another major overhaul in 1984. Fortunately. after it became apparent that certain rules concerning maintenance (i. As a bonus. except at the specific invitation of their railroad clients.

local transit subsidy sources. and Congress. none of whom are known to have been specifically trained or equipped to detect and analyze EMC conditions. Lightning Protection and Grounding The field of railroad lightning protection and grounding is fraught with pitfalls in terminology. railroads exempt from these rules have imposed contractual requirements for new signaling systems that dictate conformity to the applicable portions of 49 CFR 234 and 236. and are always triggered by a unique set of circumstances. the equipment used by railroads to protect their signaling equipment from unusual voltages on the rails is designed and intended to address issues arising from lightning strikes. it appears unlikely that a regulatory solution could be imposed to prevent future incidents of this sort. in virtually all cases. In general. the RS&I rules establish what is arguably the highest attainable standard of safety while imposing only a very small burden on the overall cost of rail transportation. it may issue emergency orders to restrict or suspend railroad operations until imminent safety hazards are corrected or mitigated to its satisfaction. From a worldwide perspective. Since false proceed conditions stemming from power line interference are generally rare. This usually ensures compliance with its rules. substantial civil and criminal penalties can be assessed against the railroad and/or individual railroad employees where there has been willful violation of FRA rules or orders. Additionally. labor interests. Regulations pertaining to EMI/EMC issues are completely absent from past and present editions of the RS&I. And even though they are not required to comply with FRA rules.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits paradoxes in the scope of FRA jurisdiction can be explained by the long-term political discourse that has taken place among the railroad owners. the FRA employs a staff of about 50 signal and train control inspectors and specialists. Nationwide. Although FRA does not maintain specific rules covering EMI/EMC issues. This is because many terms loosely used by railroad personnel have very specific and different meanings in the electric utility world. 4-154 .

crosses between conductors and shorted lightning arrestors. Blue Arrestors are Line-to-Line Faced with repeated failures and equipment damage in high isokeraunic areas. 4-155 . Red Arrestors are Line-to-Ground. multiple grounds on a circuit may provide a source of energy where differences in earth potential exist. This is due to the vital nature of signal circuits. multi-dimensional issue. and has no adverse effect on the safety of the signal system until a second ground develops. Similarly. By maintaining isolation from ground. any ground that develops is readily detectable.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-107 Typical Lightning Arrestors. falsely energizing a circuit. railroads have long searched for tools and techniques that could reduce their susceptibility to lightning damage. Multiple grounds can bypass open contacts in the signal system. Improper grounds are usually attributable to deteriorated insulation. mechanical damage to wire or cable. The grounding of signal equipment is a complex. and other types of surges. Although the requirements and benefits of grounding electrical systems are generally well established. The effectiveness of surge protection devices and techniques remains unsatisfactory in many instances. signal control circuits are customarily and intentionally ungrounded. The widespread substitution of solid-state components in place of relays and other electromechanical elements has resulted in an increasing frequency of failures caused by lightning. electrostatic discharge.

Flat Grounding Strips Figure 4-109 Effect of Multiple Grounds on Track Circuits 4-156 .Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Figure 4-108 Entrance Terminals with Wide.

Either: a. A path for the electrical energy to follow. Considering how many miles of railroad trackage parallel ac power transmission and distribution lines. Railroads and power lines often share a right-of-way out of economic necessity. the basic principles of E. In nearly every case. the first circumstance. Fortunately.e. or b. the necessary combination of circumstances required for ac power lines to bother a railroad signal system is usually very simple. or a conductive path 3. Furthermore. This statement holds true for almost every type of track circuit used today. a “right-side failure”. The crossing’s warning devices are activated when they shouldn’t be. As such. either inductive (magnetic) coupling. even before a meaningful investigation into the cause of the symptoms has been conducted. but the results of laboratory studies conducted to date are encouraging. capacitive (electrostatic) coupling. But they all boil down to one of the two basic “failure” modes of these types of equipment. The variety of exact symptoms that ac interference can induce in Motion Sensors and Crossing predictors is dizzying.. the frequency of conflicts between the power lines and railroad signal systems is actually quite low.M. A source of electrical energy. An unbalance which causes the ac potential to be greater on one rail of the track than the other 4. is far more common than the second (i. all of the following items must be present: 1. a “wrong-side failure”). they are often blamed for the problem.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Recently. 4-157 . such as the power lines 2. This is a form of “shooting the messenger”. Eliminating or adequately mitigating one or more of the four items above will result in a return to normal signal system operation. shielding have been applied in an attempt to effectively separate the “dirty” wiring entering the signal equipment enclosure from the “clean” wiring within the enclosure. A receptor (such as a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor) that is susceptible to the type of ac voltage present between the rails of the track. AC Interference Issues As the two most sensitive and precise types of track circuits currently in use on North American railroads. Often. The long-term effectiveness of these attempts has yet to be demonstrated. The crossing’s warning devices are not activated when they should be. Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors are often the first to notice the presence of an ac interference problem on a railroad. the most economical land that can be obtained for the construction of new power lines is an existing railroad right-of-way.

This is what makes the mitigation of the source (1. Any metallic conductor. above) perhaps the most difficult and expensive option when ac interference is encountered with railroad signaling circuits.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits Power lines are such a part of our modern lives that they can now be found at almost any point along a railroad line. This so-called Longitudinal Induction is often commonplace on railroads. Electrostatic induction is similar. in that the presence of a capacitive coupling path from the energy source to the rails will generally affect both of the rails equally. which is subjected to a time-varying magnetic field from some external source offers the possibility of elevated potential and undesired current flow due to magnetically induced energy. Figure 4-110 Adequate Clearance Between Signal Equipment and Overhead Lines Must be Maintained 4-158 . the greater the induction. it is rarely troublesome. whether insulated or not. In general. the shorter the distance between the source of energy and the circuit being unintentionally coupled to it. as it affects both rails of the tracks equally. However.

and one rail of the railroad tracks. we now have one of the necessary ingredients for ac interference with railroad signaling systems. Most often. Conductive paths. However. The presence of an imbalance is the catalyst that can convert common-mode voltages (both rails equally energized) into differential-mode voltages (rails unequally energized). when there is an electrical imbalance present in the track. which causes one rail to be affected by the magnetic or electrostatic induction to a greater degree than the other. That is. But Motion Sensor and Crossing Predictor track circuits are not the only types of equipment on a railroad signal system subject to EMC/EMI concerns.Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits As almost all modern track circuits view the track differentially. can produce the same end results as the combination of induction and imbalance. they can only sense the difference in voltage from one rail to the other.e. It stems from their frustration and inability to find the actual underlying cause of the problem. has no effect on the operation of the signal system. Some types of equipment are just inherently more susceptible than others. Instead. This means that the induction. one rail of the track may be at an elevated ac potential with respect to the other. The four essential elements given above for track circuits apply generally across the field of railroad signaling. this occurs because of an unintended connection that has been made between the ac power system. because of their design. AC interference is often a diagnosis reached incorrectly and all-too-soon by well-meaning signal maintenance personnel. and the laws of physics. although present. ac interference should be a diagnosis that is reached only after the 4-159 . Figure 4-111 Foreign Energy on Track Circuits or other Signal Facilities may appear when Electric Switch Heaters Become Grounded to the Running Rails The last key ingredient is the piece of signaling equipment that acts as the receptor for the ac energy. i. the elevation in voltage of both rails that longitudinal induction normally causes is essentially invisible to the signal system. construction. which provide a way for energy from any part of an ac power system to reach the railroad rails.

Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits discovery of direct evidence to support it. AC interference is an appealing scapegoat.5. Mantell. and many other factors. Nor does it move us in the direction of a solution. Only by understanding the nature of the equipment used can we hope to work towards the resolution of an Electromagnetic Compatibility problem involving ac power lines and railroad signaling equipment. power flow. 1999. But this is not science. Inc. A symptom which does not occur consistently can plausibly be blamed on “ac interference”. which is known to wax and wane as a function of line current. due to its variable nature. AREMA Signal Manual Part 8. “Batteries and Energy Systems” by Charles L. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 70-107448. Hopefully this chapter has moved its readers in that direction. phase imbalance.1. 4-160 . published in 1970 by McGraw-Hill. 31. or after all other more-likely causes of similar trouble have been eliminated. References 30.

Mr. He is married to a woman who actually understands why he takes pictures of power lines and railroad crossings while on vacation. and governmental agencies. He has since worked as a signal engineer for General Railway Signal and Union Switch & Signal throughout the past 25 years. Guidance Design Group for six years. While at Safetran he worked in the Technical Support Department on a variety of projects. He holds several patents in the field of railway signaling. 5-1 . beginning in Philadelphia. with specific concentration on mis-operation that can result from electromagnetic interference. electric utilities. followed by more than twelve years at Safetran Systems’ Electronic Division in California. Feely has been engaged in the railway signaling profession throughout his career. circuits and systems. Inc. Bennett R. including in-house and field research into ac power interference problems. manufacture. and now does independent consulting work for Timerider Technologies. switch machines. Michael R.F. and the resolution of specific customer application problems with crossing warning systems. Feely’s broad range of experience also includes participation in important projects such as NYCT’s Canarsie CBTC project and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Improvement project. an investigation into poor shunting with the Association of American Railroads. Through his work and studies he has gained detailed insight and expertise in technical and commercial matters pertaining to the design. as a signal maintainer on the subway-elevated lines of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. with a diverse base of customers including railroads. He is a member of IEEE and AREMA. and worked for General Dynamics’ R. relays and light signals. PA. Mr. Areas of special interest include track circuits. the design of train-motion simulator systems for motion sensors and crossing predictors.5 ABNORMAL OPERATION OF RAILROAD EQUIPMENT This chapter describes abnormal operation of railroad equipment. the development and delivery of customer training programs including portable track simulators. specializing in wayside devices. House earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. installation and maintenance of railway signaling equipment.. Feely attended the University of Pittsburgh and Penn Technical Institute.

This chapter includes a quick-start version. it is very highly recommended that every reader take the time to read the detailed version.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment Introduction Abnormal operation of railroad equipment is one possible outcome of ac interference. If the highway crossing gate system detects an inappropriate input. they slow or stop the trains. than to risk a collision. Training in railroad signal systems usually includes little study (if any) into the operational effects of ac interference. The most common abnormal operations resulting from ac interference are false activation of highway grade crossing train detection equipment (the gates are down with no train). So. When abnormal operation is caused by ac interference. Detailed Version Abnormal Operation of Railroad Signal Equipment This chapter is devoted to the discussion of several engineering philosophy issues that underlie most discussions of railroad signaling systems and ac interference. it lowers the gates. and by railroad signal departments. While power engineers expect this to be new to them. if the track signals detect a problem. The opposite would be “wrong-side” failures. we must always be alert to the possibility of wrong-side failures. Additionally. Quick-Start Version Railroad equipment is designed to fail in such a way that safety is maintained. it is usually some form of steady-state interference. However. Because these systems operate at audio frequencies near power line frequencies and at very low power levels. These “safe” failures are sometimes called “right-side” failures. and do everything possible to prevent them. it is usually rail-to-rail (differential mode) interference that affects operation. The idea is that it is better to stop people and freight. However. Nearly all abnormal operations of railroad equipment resulting from ac interference are right-side failures. Our objective here is to clarify the terms used. and discuss them without pretending to offer any “quick fixes” for the problems themselves. Wrong-side failures are simply unacceptable. 5-2 . this information will also be new to many railroad personnel as well. they are more susceptible to ac interference than other systems. and dropout of 60 Hz cab signal systems. because railroad signal systems are designed to deal with the very short-lived disturbances caused by faults and switching surges. This chapter is recommended reading for anyone who is less than completely familiar with the web of issues faced by railroad signal equipment designers and manufacturers.

The independent evolution of power systems and railroad signaling has resulted in each field developing its own unique dialect of the language of electrical engineering. Parts 233 through 236). Most discussions of ac interference that take place between power systems and railroad signaling personnel suffer from a lack of common terminology. within the railroad signal world. The first definition for fail-safe (above) makes up the majority of the railroad concept of the term “vital”.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment Definitions. Terms used in one field are often either unused. as it will be used within this chapter. albeit somewhat loosely so. except circuits for roadway equipment of automatic train stop system. However. railroads lies in what the FRA refers to as the “closed circuit principle”. Part of the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary definition for the term “fail-safe” includes the following: Fail-Safe 1. in the other. and these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Terminology. pertaining to or noting a mechanism built into a system. for insuring safety should the system fail to operate properly.S. Title 49.S. as in an early warning system or a nuclear reactor. and 236. 2.5 Design of control circuits on closed circuit principle All control circuits the functioning of which affects safety of train operation shall be designed on the closed circuit principle. the de-energized state must also represent the “most restrictive” state of that portion of the signaling system. or have a different meaning. FRA Rules 234. 5-3 . we must first explain the use of several other commonly used terms. in the U. In particular. The key to vitality for U. along with the additional implication that the circuits have specifically been designed in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA’s) rule book (U. The “closed circuit principle” means that the relays and other logic devices used in safety-critical circuits must normally be energized. the terms “vital” and “fail-safe” in railroad signaling have acquired unique and specific meanings insofar as they are commonly used within the railroad signal world. as defined above. Electronics. But in order to understand this term in the proper context. railroad-signaling context.203. the definition of “vital” often combines the essence of “fail-safe”. Furthermore. and Philosophy The term “abnormal operation”. Code of Federal Regulations. equipped with a secondary system that insures continued operation even if the primary system fails.S. has a specific meaning that we will define.

This short can be created either by the shunting of the track by a train’s axles. In this case. is constructed using a track relay whose coil is normally energized by current transmitted via the rails from a battery at the opposite end of that section of track. energy flows along both rails to the coil of the relay (connected at one end of the track circuit) from the battery connected to the track at the opposite end. When a train enters the track circuit. Chapter 4 in this handbook. This action causes the wayside signal system to display the necessary signal aspects (red. such as the axles of a train. or even metallic debris placed across the tracks anywhere within the track circuit. etc. As the circuit is normally energized. such as an insulation failure in the circuit wiring. a vital system will “fail-safe” when internal failures such as a broken wire. Thus the coil of the relay is energized by the absence of a train within the block1. Figure 5-1 Elementary Steady Energy DC Track Circuit Because the signaling system is made to display its most “restrictive” indication (usually denoted by a red signal – meaning STOP) to all other trains by the removal of energy from a device.) at various locations in both directions along the track. or the complete failure of the power supply interrupt the normal flow of electric current. or a 1 When the track circuit is unoccupied. When the short is from a normal and expected source. “normally” refers to times when there are no axles of a train or railroad cars present (shunting the track) within the physical boundaries of the track circuit. or by any other form of short circuit. the axles of the train shunt the current being supplied to the relay coil from the battery.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment For example. or any other opening of the circuit that can de-energize the coil of the track relay. used to detect the presence of a train within a particular section of track. and this de-energizes the relay. This sort of fail-safe or vital behavior will also occur in the case of a broken rail.) 5-4 . (See: “Overview of Railroad Signal Circuits”. a track circuit will also respond to the presence of a “short circuit”. yellow. and this instructs other trains not to enter the already occupied sections of track. this serves as a continuous form of self-testing. and not by its application. In addition to the open circuits that can de-energize the coil of a track relay. a cracked relay coil winding. a short circuit. green. the simplest direct-current relay-based vital track circuit.

2 Unfortunately. As motion sensors and crossing predictors are designed to respond primarily to a moving shunt within the circuit. in that each component or subsystem which is relied upon for proper operation of a vital system. If a train approaches a crossing slowly. most railroads in North America adopt an operating rule that restricts the type of train movements that can be made while within 3.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment signal maintainer’s “test shunt”. which are designed to prevent unsafe abnormal operation of the grade crossing warning systems and wayside signaling systems resulting from causes that cannot simply be “designed out” of the electronics. There are also other rules from governmental agencies. especially where they are being moved between a main line and a siding or spur track. The presence of a shunt. should cause the system to fail-safe. because the circuit is designed on the closed circuit principle. and personnel unfamiliar with the varied uses of this term should be careful to note the context within which it is used. leading to unnecessary misunderstandings. For this reason. Crossing Predictors are designed to provide consistent warning time for constant-speed trains. which can result in unsafe abnormal operation. But since the gate mechanisms themselves are vital. In the case of wayside signals. There are also several examples of regulations designed to prevent unsafe abnormal operation resulting from multiple failures (e. and the bells would not ring. the word “shunt” has more than one meaning on railroads worldwide. Vital equipment may still have certain limited susceptibilities. Even the gate mechanisms used at grade crossings are designed to be vital. When the shunt results from any unintended source.000 feet of a grade crossing equipped with such automatic crossing signals. and then accelerates towards the crossing.g. Persons without a railroad background have been known to misinterpret statements by railroad personnel using this word. This usage is particularly prevalent in the United Kingdom. as well as changing the indications displayed by other more distant wayside signals. If all power (including the backup batteries) should fail at a grade crossing. this usually means turning the signals at either end of the signal block to red. Vitality Although redundancy is used in some parts of railroad signaling. However. which could prevent the railroad signal system from correctly detecting the presence of a train or axle(s) within the circuit must either cause the system to fail-safe. But any single track circuit failure. This failsafe action normally takes the form of the system entering its most restrictive state. For example. or is supervised by a vital circuit which monitors its operation. 3 5-5 . in the case of grade crossings. but can also be occasionally heard on railroads in North America. or a track circuit defect such as those mentioned above. or be covered by a rule3 in order for the system to be considered “vital”. This depends primarily on the location of the shunt and the specific characteristics of the train detection equipment. the behavior of the system is often more complex. it is called a “false shunt”. “Shunting” is also the term used to describe the switching or movement of railroad cars. the mere presence of a shunt (false or otherwise) may not be sufficient cause to put the gates down and flash the lights. the warning lights on the crossing would not be lit. vitality differs from simple redundancy or the use of supervisory “safety” circuits. Redundancy vs. waits for the crossing’s warning devices to be activated. unintentional grounds in signaling circuits). is either vital. a short warning time may be produced. this is usually referred to simply as a “shunt2”. they are designed to immediately lower their arms in response to a complete power failure.

All of the subsystems and components used are of good quality. control is transferred to the secondary unit. if the supervisory circuit took no action to transfer control from the primary system to the backup system. Figure 5-2 Abnormal Operation: “Classic” vs.S. they also have a “transfer” or “changeover” interface which connects only the active unit to the inputs and outputs of the chassis. This latent failure could then result in undesirable operation when the primary system failed. Dual vs. In contrast. But even the supervisory circuit will not be checking itself. “Vital” Redundant Systems Thus. Thus. Vital This distinction between redundancy and vitality sometimes gets muddled when the equipment being discussed actually consists of two complete and separate vital systems constructed in a single chassis. when a persistent right-side failure occurs within the primary unit. and will often only check the function of the primary system. A supervisory circuit checks the operation of the primary system. as this responsibility is given to the supervisory circuit. 5-6 . Vitality is not achieved simply through the use of high-reliability components. and high reliability. There is no self-testing done by either the primary or backup systems. Both major U. but none of them are “vital”. have been restored. one of the classic forms of supposedly “fail-safe” systems used in other industries is to use redundant non-vital circuits. manufacturers of Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors offer a “dual” version of their equipment. a failure in the supervisory circuit could remain hidden until the primary system failed. control is transferred to a backup system. but through an architecture that relies on the continual or continuous verification of the health and functionality of all components essential to safety.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment They will block highway traffic until the supply of power. and proper functioning of the train detection equipment. and if it is determined to have failed in some way. Such designs not only include a complete spare unit in a single chassis.

As always. self-checking. surges. closed-loop. The primary reason for mentioning wrong-side failures here is to point out that in the case of severe railroad signal equipment damage resulting from a catastrophic event. Although there are several layers of protective devices installed in railroad signal equipment. as a significant departure from the normal operational behavior of the signaling system. while the failed module from the “bad” unit is removed for repair. all fall into this category. but otherwise there is no change in performance. but rather from a normally energized. We will define abnormal operation. 5-7 . “Wrong-Side” Abnormal Operation Abnormal operation resulting from wrong-side failures is extremely rare. and may not be able to withstand the longer durations and larger energies associated with power line faults. multiple vital component failures may be created in the signaling equipment simultaneously. A right-side failure mode 3. Control of the crossing is manually switched to the “good” unit. the crossing would be falsely activated until signal maintenance personnel arrived to make repairs.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment The net effect of this is to create a crossing warning system which. This temporarily turns the “dual” system into a “single” system. the external “surge protection” devices used are primarily designed to provide protection from nearby lightning strikes. as their built-in spares make the return of a failed module or sub-system to the factory for service much easier. Most “dual” systems like this are installed at locations where the potential costs of having a crossing “down” unnecessarily for more than a few minutes are very high. when an internal failure does occur. “spoofing” of normal events. and crossings frequented by impatient drivers likely to smash through the gates with a large truck. we are now ready to define and discuss “Abnormal Operation”. for railroad signaling systems. Crossings located far from the maintainer’s headquarters. Abnormal Operation Now that we have explained some of the underlying terminology of railroad signaling. busy intersections. will be falsely activated (right-side failure mode) for a period of only a few minutes before control is transferred to the secondary unit. fail-safe design. Without this secondary unit. vitality does not come from sheer redundancy. A wrong-side failure mode 2. or power line faults that cause excessive voltage to be applied to the inputs or outputs of the signal equipment. This most often results from lightning. These systems are also attractive from a maintenance perspective. Each vital system incorporated into these “dual” systems still has the degree of internal redundancy and self-checking needed to be called “vital” in its own right. which results from one of the following causes: 1.

Unlike the old “If a tree falls in a forest. If a train has a “clear” signal. both by trains and the motoring/pedestrian public. a wrong-side failure may occur. although rare. periodic re-testing of all vital signal circuits. and this has resulted in a potentially unsafe condition or mode of operation. This is why in the United States. The signal system has displayed a more permissive aspect than was safe or proper. and requires that a vital circuit be re-tested any time that more than one wire has been disconnected at the same time 5-8 . As the purpose of most railroad signaling equipment is to provide an indication of what movements may safely be made. this means that they are looking at a signal that is usually green in color. . A wrong-side failure usually takes one of two forms. The term: “wrong-side failure” means that a deviation from normal signal system operation has occurred. 2. Wrong-side failures are the quintessential nightmare of all railroad signalmen and signal equipment designers. In many ways. For example. either: 1. a green signal aspect was displayed. just to be on the safe side. . Most likely. which gives the wrong indication to the train operator or public. non-existent warning times. a false clear is a failure of the signal system only. This is because the equipment is only required to be “singlefault tolerant”. manufacturers build in multiple fault tolerance for some types of failures. But in many cases. The term “false clear” comes from the terminology used to describe wayside signal aspects. regardless of whether or not there was anyone (or any train crew) around to see it. the signal system has not detected it. when the signal’s aspect should have been either yellow or red. the necessary and sufficient conditions of a wrong-side failure or false clear are well-defined. the equipment will fail-safe. flood. The warning devices at a grade crossing were not activated when they should have been. and crossing warning devices shutting off while the train is still occupying the crossing. Specifically. and (in the United States) must be reported to the FRA. are cause for a thorough investigation into the root cause(s) of the failure. at or below the speed limit listed in the railroad timetable. and tells them that it is safe to proceed onto the track(s) ahead.” conundrum. or other environmental catastrophe that creates conditions that are outside of the equipment’s intended operating environment. The proper name for a green signal aspect is “clear”.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment In the event that multiple failures are created within the signaling equipment in a simultaneous or near-simultaneous fashion. But almost anything is possible after multiple simultaneous failures. due to inherent redundancies and the use of the normally-energized principle in the design of the equipment. Examples of this include: short warning times. and is still said to have occurred. this is no different than what would be expected to happen in the event of a fire. the FRA requires testing of all vital circuits at the time of installation. the end result of this failure is usually some form of a “false clear” signal aspect. Wrong-side failures can result from something as simple as the mis-adjustment or mis-wiring of the track circuit. These events.

This mode of operation may be due to a physical component failure in the signaling equipment. The technical support staff at one major railroad signal manufacturer has a saying: “Ninety percent of everything is track. or is otherwise unable to confirm its own proper functioning. a broken track wire. The occurrence of a right-side failure means that the system has both detected the presence of a problem. due to the use of delay timers which prevent rapid back-and-forth transitions between the “normal” and “failure” modes of operation in the case of intermittent failures.e. Thus. or the warning devices (gates. or the failure to maintain and repair it correctly. thus resulting in tragedy. or some other cause. the “temporary” jumper(s) left behind prevented the warning devices at the grade crossing from working when the train approached the crossing. Most commonly. rails. The time required for repairs to the equipment installed at grade crossings can easily exceed the average motorist’s patience. or track ballast to which their equipment is connected. This action usually takes the form of placing the system in its most restrictive state. Even though the signal equipment itself was working properly. lights. When modern signaling equipment enters a right-side failure mode. and instead stem from a failure in the wiring. bells. i. But the danger often arises after the work has been completed. or possibly longer. The signal equipment will remain in this condition until the failure goes away. this means that the system has either detected an actual failure. the risk of wrongside failures can be minimized. right-side failure modes are by far the most common cause of abnormal signal equipment operation. By the enforcement of good policies.) at a grade crossing are put into operation. but there has been no reduction in safety. These methods are used only after taking measures to provide for the safety of highway traffic. “Right-Side” Abnormal Operation A “right-side failure” means that some significant deviation from normal signal system operation has occurred. and the use of good engineering practices. Like ac power systems. Regardless of the root cause. or some other readily identified physical failure.”. systems are routinely “jumpered out” using temporary wiring to keep the warning devices de-activated while repairs are being completed. and has taken appropriate action to ensure the continued safety of both train movements and the public. etc. referring to the overwhelming percentage of trouble calls that they receive which have nothing to do with their equipment. can result in wrong-side failures. a broken rail. such as by obtaining “track and time” from the dispatcher. Lives have been lost simply because someone left a jumper wire or wires connected to the equipment after they were done working on it. although not completely eliminated. 5-9 . in order to temporarily halt the flow of trains.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment during the course of routine maintenance or repairs (called a “disarrangement”). or a software “bug”. and the maintenance personnel have left the area. Failure to completely and correctly test a signal system at the time of its installation. right-side failures result from external track-related problems such as low ballast resistance. Most wrong side failures result from a much more mundane source: human error. railroad signal systems are designed to operate continuously. the wayside signals for the trains turn red.

and this does not mean that unsafe abnormal operation has occurred. the message will usually indicate what subsystem was affected. Under conditions of moderate to severe interference. is having the warning devices activated at a grade crossing when there is no train approaching. or “error conditions”. the presence of ac interference energy (usually 60 Hz and its harmonics) can fool the motion sensor or crossing predictor into believing that a vital failure has occurred. Some signal equipment has a built-in memory or data recording capability.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment In order to be vital. and in what way. or all other potential causes of the observed symptoms have been eliminated. This happens when the noise level rises high enough to distort the measured characteristics of the electrical signals transmitted and received by the Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor. which allows it to record the occurrence of an error condition. As there are many potential triggers for each error condition that can be detected by the signal equipment. These error conditions do not always indicate the presence of an internal hardware or software failure within the equipment itself. When discussing modern electronic track circuits. Unfortunately. but there are many other more common causes. railroad signal equipment must enter a right-side failure mode whenever the proper functioning of any vital part of the signal system cannot be verified. As the most susceptible receptors of ac interference. the presence of a track or wiring defect. Perhaps the most classic example of the abnormal operation of railroad signal equipment. This may include a time stamp as well as other information. saying that an error has occurred means that a right-side failure has occurred (abnormal operation). we will. AC interference is sometimes the cause of abnormal operation of railroad signal equipment. the first task is to determine the exact cause of the problem (see chapters 9 and 10). Instead. Rather. This means that the equipment is intentionally designed to produce red wayside signals and false crossing warning system activations in response to the presence of poor ballast resistance. there is presently no safe alternative. the Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors installed at grade crossings are usually the first indication of an ac interference problem. where ac interference is implicated. So while right-side failures can be considered part of a system’s “normal” response to interference. and to make sure that they are doing so in a vital fashion. the recorded error will seldom consist of a clearly worded text message telling the railroad signal maintainer the exact cause of the abnormal operation. continue to refer to them as “abnormal operation” in order to signify the departure from normal signal equipment operation. Signal equipment manufacturers often refer to such right-side failure modes as “errors”. This information may or may not lead the maintainer directly to the cause of the problem. As inconvenient as this behavior may be. The presence of ac interference should never be assumed to be the primary suspect until there is either direct evidence of the presence of excessive levels of ac interference voltage present between the rails of an abnormally operating track circuit. they usually indicate the presence of unusual external conditions or problems. many different forms of signal processing and measurement are performed by modern 5-10 . for purposes of this discussion. This is not unlike the flight data recorder of a commercial airliner. In order to perform their intended function. or to the presence of interfering electrical signals on the rails.

the random nature of the interference plays a key role in a statistical game. the illusion will be created. These termination shunts are normally connected from one rail to the other at the physical limits of the track circuits used by motion sensors and crossing predictors. often putting the gates down or declaring the track circuit to be occupied when it really isn’t. In general. these termination shunts effectively short the rails together at a particular frequency (usually in the range of 80-1000 Hz). Consisting of a series-resonant inductor-capacitor network. can mimic or “spoof” the electrical signature of a train. This apparently random crossing warning system activation is often a function of the amplitude of the interference. This often occurs when the level of interference present on the railroad tracks is not high enough to induce an “error” condition (see above) resulting in a right-side failure mode. In order for induced ac voltages to affect railroad signal equipment. but is still high enough to interfere with normal operation of the equipment. or that it is not receiving and processing the electrical signal properly. Whenever the interference matches the electrical signature of a train. ac interference voltages on the rails (ac rail-to-rail potential) that varies with time in amplitude. if the rail-to-rail voltage is high enough. frequency. but other signal system components can also exhibit this behavior. results from the signal equipment misinterpreting ac interference as a legitimate electrical signal conveying specific information about the presence or motion of a train. the illusion will usually not persist over time. These include the measurement of the amplitude. the most consistent characteristic of right-side failure mode abnormal operation is the presence of self-diagnosed “error” conditions resulting either from actual hardware failures. or externally-influenced component to act as a catalyst for the ac interference energy. damaged. Specifically. phase. or a few tens of volts rms) of 60 Hz energy across the track (as measured from one rail of the railroad track to the other) can detune some narrowband termination shunts. Any noise that interferes with this process can make the signal equipment believe that it is either no longer transmitting the signal onto the tracks correctly. and thus may also pass significant amounts of interference current at other frequencies. or from interference. frequency. Abnormal Operation from “Spoofing” of Normal Events The third possible cause of abnormal operation. However. In these cases. The signal equipment then responds to this illusion as though it were an actual train. or a combination of these. and modulation of the electrical signals transmitted and received by the Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor. 5-11 . phase. there must often be a failed. For an example of how this can occur. But these networks are not perfectly frequency-selective.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment train detection equipment. Shorted insulated joints commonly fill this role. consider the following: The presence of high levels (a few volts. This will result in the equipment entering a right-side failure mode. with the crossing being activated more frequently as the level of interference rises. and the most common result of this type of interference will be a grade crossing whose warning devices go into operation for short periods of time at random intervals.

railroad signaling systems are designed to facilitate the safe movement of trains. Some arguments about the specifics of signal equipment vitality ultimately become what one signal equipment engineer has termed “philosophical”. the shunt will become de-tuned. all of this will occur without the presence of recorded error conditions. some vital designs which do not self-test in a truly continuous fashion have been analyzed with the supposition that an initial vital failure could be closely followed in time by a second failure. etc. There are many ways of meeting these requirements.F. to declare the track to be “occupied” by a train. but with little in the way of regulation or customer-based requirements to specify the details of equipment design. If the amount of detuning was sufficient to move the “center frequency” of the shunt so that it coincided with the frequency being used by another audio-frequency track circuit (A. it could also fool a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor into believing that there was a train approaching a grade crossing. Philosophy Although the underpinnings of railroad signal design philosophy are simple. and no small amount of time. shunt the track effectively at that frequency.). The hallmarks of the spoofing type of abnormal operation are that grade crossings will activate their warning devices for no apparent reason at essentially random intervals.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment If the amount of interference current passing through the termination shunt is sufficient to cause significant saturation of the magnetic core of the termination shunt’s inductor.O. This form of track circuit interaction under the influence of ac interference voltages on the track can be difficult to find. this does not relieve them of the need for vitality and the use of “due diligence” in the design of their equipment. 5-12 . Moreover.O. their implications are manifold and complex. especially with regard to the timing of multiple failures in electronic systems. Other arguments about equipment vitality are more statistically based. which could theoretically prevent detection of the first failure. And if this action proceeded at the proper rate with respect to time. and are vital and fault-tolerant to at least the single-fault level. motion sensor. At their most basic.F. in theory. However. Even though fault-tolerance is only required to the single-fault level. Actually achieving this level of performance requires an enormous amount of effort and expense. Divergent opinions as to exactly what practices are required in order for equipment to be truly “vital” are held by many respected experts in this field. signal equipment manufacturers are largely left to their own devices to fulfill them. This could potentially shunt enough current away from the receiver of an audio-frequency overlay track circuit to cause the A. and track circuits may declare themselves occupied in a similar fashion. This re-tunes the series-resonant LC network to resonate at a new.. the frequency-shifted termination shunt could. and requires a broad knowledge of the particular characteristics of each signal system component in the presence of ac interference voltages. meaning that they are based on what an individual engineer personally believes is necessary to protect against foreseeable events. or other evidence of right-side failure modes (in signal equipment equipped with error-recording capability). higher frequency. crossing predictor. This occurs because the inductance of a saturated inductor drops below its nominal value. Therefore the operational behavior of some signal equipment is discussed in terms of a vanishingly small “mean time before wrong-side failure”.

Methods of Achieving Vitality Vitality in railroad signal equipment has been achieved in many different ways. process. or sets wayside signals to red. This occurs for two reasons: 1. whose outputs are continually compared with each other by an independent supervisory system. but the introduction of computer technology into railroad signaling systems has. The most basic technique used is the “normally energized” principle discussed above. and good risk management from a business perspective. Vital railroad signal systems having single-fault tolerance must also have no latent failures that could affect the safety of the system. 2. and a right-side failure mode is entered. it is not completely foolproof. then the supervisory circuit declares some part of the system to have “failed”. This is called “singlefault tolerance”. signal equipment manufacturers have worked diligently to cover as many scenarios involving multiple simultaneous failures as possible. these systems seek to perform a self-test frequently enough so as to detect any vital failure within the normal amount of time required to detect a train. The objective is to guarantee that the introduction of any single failure into the system. Modern electronic track circuits may also achieve vitality through multiple independent signalprocessing channels. which could affect the safety of the system. which can adversely affect the safety of the system. a vital failure must always make its presence visible or known. In general. 5-13 . and may still behave incorrectly in the case of multiple simultaneous or nearly-simultaneous failures. Another common technique for electronic systems is that of continuous. Because the probability of item 1 (above) is not actually zero. self-checking.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment That any wrong-side failure could ever occur in truly vital signal equipment is an oxymoron. even though this is not explicitly required by law or customer specifications. forced the expansion of the philosophy of railroad signal system vitality to include sampling-based systems which process information in a discrete. will cause the system to fail-safe. affecting both the safety of the signal system and the ability of the system to detect this particular failure. Single-fault tolerance means that the failure of any single component. However. That is. a failure that affects either signal-processing channel in a vital fashion will cause the system to fail-safe. If there is sufficient disagreement between the outputs of the two channels. non-continuous fashion. Normally this is done by entering a right-side failure mode that activates the grade crossing’s warning devices. The simultaneous occurrence of two failures. and may cause a wrong-side failure to occur. the safety of modern railroad signaling systems is actually much better than mere single-fault tolerance would suggest. The occurrence of multiple simultaneous failures is clearly beyond the realm of single-fault tolerance. or sub-system. or intermittent-but-frequent. It is simply good engineering practice. This immediate self-revealing behavior is necessary. as a subsequent additional failure could result in unsafe operation (wrongside failure mode). The same inputs are applied to both signal-processing channels. Thus. Even though the system is single-fault tolerant. system. will cause the system to enter a “right-side” failure mode. is extremely unlikely. in effect.

this could easily have resulted in the crossing warning system producing little or no warning time. the devil is in the details. However. Vitality and “Creative” Equipment Maintenance One important sidebar to this discussion is the topic of signal equipment maintenance. and so they did. Vital signal equipment designs can be very intricate. mitigation measures must be devised which either prevent the failure from happening. purchased from the local electronics store at a significant cost saving. in this particular instance. or system has its own unique susceptibilities. owing to the inexpensive relay’s use of allmetal armature contacts. Creating a vital design consists of making sure that the effects of every potential failure or hazard are well understood. which can become welded together if they are made to carry excessive current. Had things been otherwise. It’s not unlike making sure that you’ve thoroughly plugged every hole in a large and porous dam. As with many fields of engineering. sub-system. If you start a conversation about ac induction and interference on the railroads with an electrical engineer who is unfamiliar with railroad signaling systems. This example points out the need 5-14 . They figured that any exposed conductor should be carefully grounded for safety. the circuit constructed would not be vital. This tendency for conservative repair policies is understandable. some vital designs rely on the use of specially designed and manufactured components. and initiate a “right-side” failure mode whenever self-testing reveals a problem. the first “quick fix” that they will usually suggest is to simply ground both rails. but may also be serviced by factory-trained technicians in the shops of larger railroads. sub-system. For example. the behavior of the system could have been radically changed by the amount of moisture in the soil. One small “leak” is all it takes. This method of design can be susceptible to the effects of seemingly insignificant modifications. But this conservative approach applies to the introduction of new equipment and installation techniques as well. Their familiarity with standard wiring practices for commercial power overcame the fact that the correctly-drawn signal drawings did not show any ground rods connected directly to the rails. Furthermore. given the safety-critical nature of this equipment. Fortunately. this has been tried by wellmeaning industrial plant electricians who were installing grade crossing warning equipment on a spur track within the facility. Each component.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment The number of ways in which a system can be made vital is limited only by the number of ways in which the system can fail. Even though a conventional dc track circuit could theoretically be built using a garden-variety relay. and properly mitigated against. simply because they have limited and predictable failure modes (vital relays. Vital railroad signal equipment is most often returned to the manufacturer for repairs. Oddly enough. or system. or continually test (in a vital fashion) the proper functioning of that component. using manufacturer-approved parts. This issue must be raised in order to warn against some of the more “creative” solutions that have been attempted in an effort to “improve” railroad signal equipment operation. For each potential “hazard” or “wrong-side” failure mode (see below) which could occur. the location and relatively high resistance of the ground rods was such that they did not create a false shunt across the tracks within the approaches to the crossing. for example).

and absolutely prohibit driving a train past some red wayside signals (absolute signals) without first obtaining permission from the dispatcher. and therefore is covered by operating rules. but in the practices surrounding the equipment. Thus. there are other circumstances that are much more common. In practice. etc. any train approaching such a false shunt would. Such situations must be addressed by the use of an FRA rule. An example of this is the presence of a false shunt across the tracks within the approach(es) of a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor. an ac outage of several days can still drain the batteries. particularly in some parts of North America. There are also a few exceptions to the “single-fault tolerant” nature of vital railroad signal equipment which have wrong-side failure implications. and not to proceed until obtaining permission to do so from the dispatcher. The rules for most North American railroads severely restrict the manner in which a train can be driven past a red signal. as the false shunt created would also keep the wayside signals in their most restrictive state (red or “stop”) prior to a train’s arrival. Creative maintenance is often a shortcut to abnormal operation of all kinds.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment for caution in applying non-standard solutions to ac interference problems. this also relies on the train’s engineer being very familiar with the territory when operating at night. This policy also ensures that trains do not pass a signal that should be displaying a red aspect. This occurs most frequently after a heavy winter storm. then eventually the batteries will become exhausted. Rules. is still an indication that the grade crossing should be considered temporarily impassable. if the external power supply (usually from the ac grid) fails at a wayside signal location.) placed across the tracks in the path of a train by vandals. If such a power failure were to happen at a grade crossing. Such a false shunt could “blind” a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor to the presence of an approaching train. but have no flashing lights on them. and constructed of wire with brightlycolored insulation. Of course. Even with a large battery bank. report the problem to the dispatcher. Even something as apparently harmless as a ground rod can have very serious unintended consequences in railroad signaling. Such a complete power failure can ultimately result in one or more dark (un-illuminated) signal heads. at the most snow-bound and remote locations. especially at remotely operated track switch locations. scrap metal. or motor vehicle code. In such cases it is the rules regarding red wayside signals which provide for continued safe train operations. For example. and Wrong-Side Failures Part of the vitality of the railroad signaling systems in North America resides not in the equipment itself. it would eventually result in crossing gate arms that are horizontal. The safety of the public is still protected. This failure cannot be easily remedied with additional technology. The debris is not always knocked clear of the rails by the train. as per the 5-15 . this sometimes takes the form of metal debris (shopping carts. The presence of a dark signal head is cause for the train’s engineer to stop the train. However. even without any lights. It is for this very reason that some railroads require that all jumper wires used to “jumper out” the equipment at a grade crossing be at least six feet long. because a lowered gate arm. but have a burned-out bulb in them. Policies must be in place to cover circumstances that cannot be adequately addressed by the signal equipment alone. pipes. Vitality. and sometimes remains wedged between the rails. railroad operating rule.

Thus. The outputs of the new and the existing equipment are both connected to a data or event recording system. with the new equipment only connected to the required track wires. detailed standards for railroad signal equipment performance. there are no widely accepted standards within the U. have seldom. In this form of test. 5-16 . if possible. In these trials. including its abnormal operation rate. The existing equipment remains in full operation. There are also other rules from governmental agencies. unlike some other fields of electronic signal processing. been developed in North America. which are designed to prevent unsafe abnormal operation of the grade crossing warning systems and wayside signaling systems resulting from other causes that cannot simply be “designed out” of the electronics. Instead. site trials are often set up at a limited number of railroad signal installations with the new equipment operating in “shadow” mode. A thorough statistical analysis of the performance of the new equipment is rarely done. and railroad feedback is provided to the signal equipment vendor via the vendor’s thoroughly abused sales and technical support staff. needed for operation. At the end of the test period. When new equipment is introduced by a vendor. if ever. power sources. and would be approaching each railroad crossing prepared to stop before reaching it. the existing equipment and its proposed replacement are placed in operation side-by-side on the same track. a piece of signal equipment would only enter a right-side failure mode when absolutely necessary. if possible. the contents of the recording system are downloaded and analyzed. All of these regulations are designed to avoid the abnormal operation of railroad signaling equipment. railroad signal industry defining a maximum allowable equipment failure rate. other factors such as purchase price and long-term support costs often play a larger role in the decision than performance.S. and if the new equipment performs at least as well as the existing equipment. and the results of these “site trials” are hardly ever translated directly into formal numerical performance requirements for future equipment purchases. Equipment acceptability has instead been determined by the railroads on a rather informal basis. and one might expect the development of customer requirements which specify a maximum false-alarm rate for a given environment.Abnormal Operation of Railroad Equipment rules. or a maximum false-alarm rate for a given interference environment. provided that the new equipment’s performance is at least as good as the old. be running at restricted speed. But the new equipment is not allowed to control anything. and the equipment is left to operate for a period of time. etc. it may be approved for use on that railroad. equipment which proves to be unreliable in service quickly gathers a bad reputation. Ideally. Other Industries The intentional design of railroad signaling equipment to exhibit a right-side failure mode in response to anything that could adversely affect the safety of the system has resulted in surprisingly few customer requirements limiting this behavior. However. The performance of the new equipment is compared with that of the existing equipment. Railroad Signal Equipment Standards vs.

electric utilities. the design of train-motion simulator systems for motion sensors and crossing predictors.F. and now does independent consulting work for Timerider Technologies. While at Safetran he worked in the Technical Support Department on a variety of projects. and governmental agencies. He is a member of IEEE and AREMA.6 DAMAGE TO RAILROAD EQUIPMENT This chapter describes damage to railroad equipment that can result from electromagnetic interference. Inc. the development and delivery of customer training programs including portable track simulators. including in-house and field research into ac power interference problems. 6-1 . and worked for General Dynamics’ R. He is married to a woman who actually understands why he takes pictures of power lines and railroad crossings while on vacation. Michael R. an investigation into poor shunting with the Association of American Railroads.. House earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. with a diverse base of customers including railroads. Guidance Design Group for six years. and the resolution of specific customer application problems with crossing warning systems. followed by more than twelve years at Safetran Systems’ Electronic Division in California.

steady-state interference rarely causes damage. as the level of interference rises. so does the rate of operational problems with the signaling equipment. This chapter examines the mechanisms of equipment damage from ac interference. Since steady-state interference levels are usually maintained below this level for personnel safety. Steady-state ac interference doesn’t often cause damage because railroad signal equipment is designed to withstand ac voltage levels well above those considered hazardous to personnel (50 volts rms steady-state). it is usually inconsequential. depending primarily on the type of equipment installed. The exact voltage and/or current thresholds at which this occurs will vary widely. Thus the energy from induction from a power line fault can be much greater than from a lightning strike. As problems from ac interference are often random or pseudo-random in nature. However. While the current through an arrester will often be an order of magnitude higher for lightning. t=time in seconds). the 6-2 . SPDs used on track circuits are generally designed to fail open (not shorted). these thresholds are also strongly dependent on other factors. the duration of the current can be three to five orders of magnitude greater for a power line fault. not power line faults.Damage to Railroad Equipment Introduction Damage to railroad signal equipment is one possible outcome of ac interference. The result is that the arrester is often destroyed. Track SPDs often cannot withstand power line fault induction because they were never designed for that purpose. and design practices that can affect equipment survival. the operating mode or modes selected. leaving the rest of the railroad signal equipment vulnerable. and has no visible effect on the operation of the railroad signaling equipment. and the particular electrical characteristics of the track and associated components installed at each location. Detailed Version Although a small amount of ac interference energy. but will not cause any permanent damage. Somewhere above this “normal” level of ac interference lies a range of energies which can cause operational problems for the various types of signaling equipment in use.) But track circuit arresters are designed to protect against lightning. In general. (Notable exceptions to this are wideband shunts and narrowband couplers that can burn out if they pass too much steady-state ac interference current. Quick-Start Version When railroad signal equipment damage is caused by ac interference. Surge protective devices (SPDs or arresters) used on railroad equipment are designed to withstand only lightning. in some cases this trend may only be visible through the use of statistics. And they 2 fail when the energy flowing through them exceeds their i t capacity (i=current in amperes. including the operating frequency used by the equipment. it is usually fault or switching activity on the power system that causes the problem. is always present on railroad rails due to induction. related to the power-line frequency.

either radiated or conducted. these standards cover only the radiated electromagnetic interference that the signaling equipment must withstand without operational difficulties. The “specified EMI field strength levels” which are referred to by the AREMA standard above are as shown below in Table 6-1. This section discusses some aspects of this type of damage. and they say nothing about the conducted interference that the signaling equipment must be able to handle. But the frequency and duty cycle of visible symptoms will generally correspond to the level of interference .it is permanently damaged.5. Although it is the conversion of an electromagnetic field (usually from ac power system related sources) into conducted interference (on the railroad rails) that usually results in operational problems. of course. that of a severely unbalanced track circuit (more on this below). Furthermore. as well as the limits imposed on the amount of interference radiated from each unit. part 11. paragraph 6. the level of conducted interference that such a field could normally produce is still normally far below the level needed to cause permanent damage to the equipment.1. Processor-based equipment shall conform to requirements set forth in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rules. part 15.once the level of interference has risen above the threshold required to induce the first operational problem.Damage to Railroad Equipment specific time(s) at which a signal system experiences trouble (assuming a constant interference level) will often be random or pseudo-random as well. probabilistic predictions are often the only ones which can be accurately made about the performance of railroad signal equipment in a given interference environment. In the most extreme cases. it is one of the very few standards viewed by many in the railroad signal industry as having any relevance to the railroad signal equipment market in North America. Furthermore. Therefore. Standards The field of railway signaling has very few standards for immunity to ac interference. shown below: 6. the magnitude of the ac interference is so great that not only is the railroad signaling equipment prevented from operating normally . This standard covers the ability of the system to withstand radiated interference received from the outside. for spurious RF emissions with all its covers on and installed per manufacturer’s recommendations. 6-3 . The incoming ac interference levels specified in these standards normally are much less than those required to inflict permanent damage to the equipment. The only significant exception to this generalization is. Specified field strength is for either single impulse or continuous wave EMI. Railroad signal equipment manufacturers comply with the guidelines provided in the AREMA C&S Manual. Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Equipment shall operate normally without requiring adjustment when in service with all its covers on and installed per manufacturer’s recommendations at specified EMI field strength levels. Section D “Environmental Limits”.

40F) +70C (+160F) -55C (. sand.0 g p 10 g p 10 g p 150 250 350 Class E (Computer Room) Parameter Condition Temperature Relative Humidity (%) Noncondensing Vibration Mechanical Shock (11ms) EMI (V/m) Dielectric Strength Abrasive Environment Operating Minimum Maximum Storage Minimum Maximum Operating Minimum Maximum Storage Minimum Maximum 5-20 Hz 20-200 Hz Shipping Operating 50 kHz-88 MHz 88-216 MHz 216-1000 MHz Volts RMS Salt.67F) +85C (+185F) 0 95 0 95 0.5.Damage to Railroad Equipment Also.2" p-p 4.05" p-p 1. rain.40F) +70C (+160F) -55C (. Taken from AREMA C&S Manual Part 11.0 g p 10 g p 10 g p 150 250 350 +20C (+68F) +25C (+77F) -15C (+ 5F) +50C (+122F) 40 45 5 95 0. hail.5 g p 10 g p 10 g p 150 250 350 Class D (Wayside Control Room) -25C (.2 g p 10 g p 10 g p 150 250 350 -40C (.000 Vrms for Electromechanical Equipment ** 2. contaminants -40C (.67F) +85C (+185F) 0 95 0 95 0.000 Vrms for Electronic Equipment 6-4 . this standard does not cover the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is most likely to cause operational interference or permanent equipment damage.13F) +70C (+160F) -55C (.07" p-p 1.1 Class A (Roadbed) Class B (Wayside Outdoors) Class C (Wayside Signal Enclosures) -40C (. as the lower frequency limit of the EMI given in the AREMA specification is only 50 KHz (see Table 6-1).40F) +70C (+160F) -55C (.67F) +85C (+185F) 0 95 0 95 0.0 g p 10 g p ---150 250 350 3000 3000 3000* 2000** No 3000 2000** No * 600 Yes Yes No Note: * 3. Table 6-1 Damage Table.05" p-p 1. dust.67F) +85C (+185F) 0 95 0 95 0.1" p-p 2.

86 Hz. of the signal equipment operating frequency in use. etc. These systems can generally be programmed to operate at frequencies from a few tens of Hz . and efforts to reduce the number of signal blocks. in frequency.) have been chosen specifically to avoid 60 Hz and its harmonics. some potential for interference and/or damage is almost unavoidable. and has relied on market forces as its primary enforcement tool. reliable. the railroad industry has generally relied on signal equipment manufacturers to use their best engineering judgment with regard to ac interference immunity. it still falls within the roughly 0 to 1000 Hz audio-frequency band used by many of the most susceptible railroad signal systems (e. since signal equipment that doesn’t work also doesn’t sell very well. So for the majority of Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors.up to nearly 1 KHz. Tuned inductor-capacitor networks are often used as a “track coupler” for signal equipment designed to operate at a single frequency. Crossing Predictors.S. which can be user-programmed for operation at a variety of frequencies. Motion Sensors). and still not work correctly in its intended interference environment. 6-5 .g. but this bandwidth-limited transfer of energy between the equipment and the railroad track can also help to minimize the potential for equipment damage. the possibility of abnormal operation or damage is generally lessened. With such a strong source of potential interference being located so close (in frequency) to the operating frequencies of many widely-used types of railroad signal equipment. To date. This is why most of the standard railroad signal equipment operating frequencies (e. have dictated the use of increasingly longer track circuits. it is entirely possible for a piece of signaling equipment to meet all of the U. As long as the equipment operating frequency is far enough away from the significant spectral components of potentially damaging interference (usually 60 Hz and/or its harmonics). But modern Crossing Predictors and Motion Sensors. 114 Hz. Railroad Signal Equipment Design Practices Although 60-Hz energy is below the frequencies used by most railroad signaling systems. Higher train speeds. And it is quite close in frequency to the 40-Hz or 60-Hz Cab-Signaling systems used on some railroads. This in turn has favored the use of lower signal equipment operating frequencies.Damage to Railroad Equipment Thus. 60 Hz energy lies well within one decade. most signal equipment manufacturers strive diligently to make their equipment as robust. However. 156 Hz. There have been some initial and tentative attempts by industry working groups to grapple with this lack of standards for conducted interference. must have a track-coupling network with much greater bandwidth than equipment tuned for a single frequency. This may have been a part of the equipment design simply to provide proper impedance matching.g. This broader bandwidth can make them more susceptible to 60-Hz energy than single-frequency signal equipment. and useful as possible. the coupling networks used by the signal equipment manufacturers are often designed to be of a highly frequencyselective nature. as well as many AFO circuits. railroad signal industry standards currently in use. but at present there is little in the way of published and accepted EMI standards for either the ac power industry or the railroad industry to use in resolving conflicts between railroad signal systems and ac power lines. Because of this.

Energy that is inductively coupled onto railroad tracks will generally affect both rails equally. including the potential for damage. So even though the ac rail-to-ground potential of the each rail may be greatly elevated. as the levels required to cause damage are rarely achieved on the tracks. the rail-to-rail potential of 60-Hz (or its harmonics) seen by the signaling equipment at any given point within a section of track is generally quite small. and there will always be some degree of susceptibility to 60 Hz energy and its harmonics for these systems. with no intentional referencing of the voltage or current to any common ground or return path.Damage to Railroad Equipment Sometimes special measures such as notch-filtering or other bandwidth-limiting schemes are employed to improve the operation of signal equipment in high “ac noise” environments. That is. railroad signal equipment is really quite reliable. 6-6 . Any benefit that they may provide in this regard is purely coincidental. insofar as practical. (A “wrong-side” failure is an unsafe condition where the signal system fails to respond properly to the presence of a train. but these measures are not actually designed to reduce the risk of equipment damage during exposures to potentially-damaging levels of ac interference. Much of standard railroad signaling practice in North America is designed to prevent. This is because the overwhelming majority of railroad track circuits in North America impress their signaling voltages and/or currents across the tracks. which include: 1. Despite all of this apparently inherent susceptibility. 2. the generally well-balanced electrical characteristics of railroad tracks. permanent damage to signal equipment as a result of lightning strikes. These can improve the signal system’s operational performance and reliability under “routine” levels of ac interference. In part. both in terms of its operational performance and its resistance to damage from ac interference. a long-standing awareness of environmental factors such as lightning. Unfortunately. the limited bandwidth of railroad tracks as an electrical transmission line has necessitated the use of dc or low audio frequencies in railroad signaling and train detection. for many of the same reasons. This results in nearly equal rail-to-ground potentials on each rail at any given point along the track. as shown below. this helps to prevent the occurrence of unsafe or “wrong-side” signal system failures. this seldom bothers railroad signal equipment. provided that there is no gross electrical unbalance between the rails.) Audio frequency track circuits are also “floated”. DC track circuits have batteries (and 110/220-Volt battery charger outputs) that are quite intentionally “floated” with no reference to remote earth ground. and 3. However. the way in which electrical signals are applied to the rails. the signal is applied differentially to the two railroad rails of each track circuit. The coupling network used to connect such audio-frequency signaling equipment to the rails of a track usually consists of a capacitor and transformer. Thus. This can be attributed to three primary factors. damage arising from excessive levels of 60-Hz energy has been largely ignored.

a.) 2.5. 6-7 .k. the electromagnetic phenomena that can damage railroad signal equipment fall into one of the following two categories: 1. As specified in the AREMA standard 11. But this specification is useful in that it does define a common-mode voltage boundary beyond which a signal equipment failure may occur. this is a voltage level seldom achieved on the rails in any steady-state fashion (excluding certain electrified railroad problems). power surges. a. especially during transients. Exposures Obviously. “lightning arresters”. anything which raises the rail-to-rail potential enough to produce power levels within components used in the signaling equipment which exceeds their power ratings Category #1 (above) is most commonly associated with non-continuous conditions such as lightning strikes. or transformer insulation: this usually results in the energy finding a path to the grounded chassis of the signal equipment. surges. Dielectric breakdown of the connectors.1 (Note: this should also be enough to trigger the primary surge protection devices. or at some other point in the signaling equipment. which are located very close (electrically) to the inputs and outputs of the system. transients.5. and may cause multiple component failures along the way. until an insulation failure occurs between the windings of the transformer. This may result in: 1. any “common-mode” elevated rail-to-ground potential that has been induced is essentially invisible to the signal system.M. 2. and the like. Obviously.S.1 (above). are particularly susceptible. the required breakdown voltage for electronic signal equipment is 2000 Volts R.Damage to Railroad Equipment Figure 6-1 Track Circuit Coupling Network Therefore. printed circuit boards. or other non-continuous conditions which are capable of creating this condition. anything which raises the rail-to-ground potential significantly above the 2000 Volt insulation breakdown requirement of AREMA 11. Dielectric breakdown of capacitors: coupling capacitors and filter capacitors.

and to provide subsequent protection from future surges. They are expected to remain functional after the event has ended.Damage to Railroad Equipment 3. If the SPD is subjected to more energy than it can tolerate. as a result of exposures in this first category. 2. and some AFO track circuit transmitters and receivers).). Failure of secondary surge protection devices: These surge-protection devices embedded in the various signaling equipment appliances often trip (as intended) during brief over-voltage or over-current conditions. where the coupling device is connected from one rail segment to the next around an insulated joint in a rail. Individual components can be damaged by a long-duration exposure to a less severe overload. and may fail in ways that are not readily visible. resulting in a larger than normal induction problem due to the longer section of electrically continuous track created. burned open. every component has a limit to the energy it can withstand. this can occur when the frequency of a tuned shunt falls close to 60 Hz. (The usual application. when activated simultaneously. Excessive voltage applied to the terminals of the signal transmitter or receiver that triggers the secondary surge protection devices incorporated into the system in a catastrophic fashion. Failure of a coupling device such as a tunable joint coupler or wideband coupler (capacitor) due to excessive voltage and/or current available across an insulated joint. Among the failures that could occur within this second category are the following: 1. However. and is inherent in the sacrificial nature of the device. Excessive current in the coupling capacitor or in the track winding of the track transformer (in a transmitter or receiver). Excessive power dissipation in a resistor connected across the track for the purpose of current or impedance limiting (found in ordinary track circuits. 3. Damage. Dielectric breakdown of the coupling capacitor on the track side of the track transformer (in a transmitter or receiver). (For tuned shunts. etc. serve to connect sequential signal blocks together electrically. 5. In such a case. is often characterized by physical changes in the signal equipment that are readily visible to the naked eye (components discolored. But the type of damage which results from the exposures in category #2 is often much more subtle. or one of its harmonics. This is expected.) 6. Failure of a termination shunt (tuned or wideband) connected across the tracks due to excessive current. vaporized. and may become sacrificial1. the railroad signal system’s surge protection devices.) 1 SPDs are intended to protect the down stream equipment from surges by diverting the energy to ground. 6-8 . it will be destroyed as it protects the equipment. A Cascade of Failures: A momentary event within the ac power system can initiate a “cascade” failure. 4. 4.

Other devices such as so-called “Faraday cages” are increasingly being explored to improve the isolation of signal equipment from the outside world. There are two basic engineering approaches to dealing with such ac interference voltages. al. and the like. surges. What is generally consistent across the industry. great care must be taken to assure that no potential failure mode of this coupler (open. however. but high enough to cause damage over time. To date. These primarily consist of non-linear semiconductor-based devices that work in much the same way.Damage to Railroad Equipment Vital systems are designed to be able to detect the failure of any single component that can affect the safety of the system. With a correctly designed coupler. there are many specific designs. The first is to increase the impedance of the path that the ac interference energy is following into the railroad signal equipment. as they are both manufacturer and component specific. Manufacturers of signal equipment shelters are now offering several different implementations of a shielded arrester panel enclosure in an attempt to reduce the currents induced in “clean” wiring inside the equipment shelter by the “dirty” wiring leading in to the shelter from the track outside. 6-9 . Therefore. Mitigation In an attempt to minimize equipment damage. Although we have identified some of the most common types of specific failures. Unfortunately. but manufacturers are always increasing the amount of abuse that their equipment can withstand in response to customer demands. the level at which destruction occurs varies widely. This principle is embodied in almost every signal equipment design. Obviously. appliances. Reiff et. Colorado have been performed. only preliminary studies such as that described in “Lightning and Surge Protection Study” RS-99-006 by R. other approaches must be considered. neither of the above techniques is effective against ac interference voltages that are present on the rails in a differential fashion (rail-to-rail potential) at levels too low to trigger the surge protection devices connected across the tracks. and wiring techniques used in railroad signaling. But this does not guarantee that railroad signal equipment will avoid wrong-side failures in all cases of simultaneous multiple-component failures caused by excessive voltage or current from transients. However. However. of Pueblo. large-scale studies of the effectiveness of these designs have yet to be conducted. in any “vital” or fail-safe signal system. Various forms of lightning arresters are used as non-linear resistance devices (primarily spark-gap based) which are connected from rail-toground or from rail-to-rail to “clamp” excessive voltages to a level that the rest of the signal equipment can withstand. is a design philosophy that states: “Destruction before wrong-side failure equals success”. Inc. we have not attempted to attach any specific levels to them. Secondary “surge-protection” devices are also incorporated into the design of the electronics. This often takes the form of a series-resonant Inductor-Capacitor combination tuned to the operating frequency of the signal equipment. very little impedance is added to the circuit at the operating frequency. Any signal equipment that acquires a reputation (deservingly or otherwise) for being easily damaged in the railroad environment quickly falls in sales. and are generally designed to avoid wrong-side failures even in the event of simultaneous damage to multiple components. but a great deal of impedance is added at 60 Hz and its harmonics. But there are specific instances where a dc or ac (rms) potential of as little as 12 Volts from rail-to-rail can cause permanent damage. at the Transportation Technology Center.

out-of-tune. Often. often the first one employed by the railroads. which greatly minimizes the usefulness of this technique. is also effective. This usually takes the form of series-resonant Inductor-Capacitor combinations.Damage to Railroad Equipment shorted. but usually much more costly and more difficult to achieve.) can cause a wrong-side failure. as measured at the rails. the most effective approach is to identify and correct the track circuit unbalance that is causing a difference between the voltages induced in each rail of the track. and not high enough to cause permanent damage to the signal equipment (see above). these actually work by artificially restoring the rail-to-rail voltage balance on the track at a particular frequency. or from each rail to ground. is to try and “shunt out” the interference. Virtually the only effective forms of mitigation for ac interference rail-to-rail voltages high enough to damage railroad signal equipment is to attack them at their source. Here the intent is to provide an alternate path for the ac interference. It is often found that any level of ac interference high enough to cause damage will also be high enough to exceed the rated current carrying capacity of the “60-Hz shunt”. but these devices were designed and intended for use where the levels of ac interference were only high enough to cause operational problems with the equipment. The second approach. This restriction often prevents the use of this approach in certain types of signaling equipment. However. A reduction in the strength of the electromagnetic field. This is not to say that these devices cannot be of benefit in specific applications. or modify their path to the affected equipment. However. etc. the use of “60-Hz Shunts” to address high levels of ac interference on the rails usually relies more on luck than on science. and placed across the rails (in the same fashion as termination shunts). as the basic principles of ac induction and the role of track circuit unbalances in the production of rail-to-rail (differential) voltages are generally poorly understood by the railroad signal community. 6-10 . and to reduce the rail-to-rail ac interference potential seen by the signal equipment. tuned to the offending frequency.

7-1 .. EMF management. railroads. As President of Corr Comp Co. cathodic-protection systems. and CIGRE. he joined EPRI to manage the recently formed EMC Program. and pipelines. and railroad systems. Later. he joined Commonwealth Edison (Exelon) in Chicago. In 2001. Other projects include the effects of High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI) on power systems. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem. In this capacity he is responsible for research into issues ranging from interference with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). where his responsibilities included right-of-way and site selection. Mr. Frazier provides services to the power/pipeline/railroad industries in the pursuit of compatible common utility corridors. as Technical Expert for Inductive Coordination and Electrical Effects at ComEd. pipeline. His major fields of experience include electromagnetic effects. and detection systems. with responsibility for all B-1 bomber electronic countermeasures systems. he was responsible for maintaining effective working relationships with the two dozen railroads within ComEd’s service territory. He worked for AIL Systems as an integration lab manager. to broadband data transmission over power lines (BPL). increased transmission capacity. ANSI. as well as electric and magnetic field exposure and safe working clearances. and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).7 PERSONNEL SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS This chapter discusses in depth electrical hazards to personnel that could occur on a railroad as a result of power lines. This includes induced and conducted energy. Frazier has over 30 years of experience in the management and conduct of applied research programs and the application of the research results to the solution of system-specific problems. Brian Cramer is the Technical Manager for Electromagnetic Compatibility in the Power Delivery group of EPRI. electromagnetic compatibility. Pennsylvania. He is a member of IEEE. Mr. He is nationally known for his work on the electromagnetic compatibility of electric power. In 1990. He is the author of the EPRI computer program CORRIDOR that has been extensively used by the engineering community to predict power-line interference on co-located structures. He later worked for Lockheed Electronics performing research and development on advanced phased-array antenna systems. AREMA.

involves the direct effects the electrical energy can have on a person. a shock hazard may exist. Any fumes should be allowed to dissipate before removing the bond. With regard to railroad signals. This will also be addressed along with various applicable standards for field exposure. the fuel container should be electrically bonded to the equipment being fueled prior to and during fueling. the steady-state short circuit current to ground should not exceed 5 mA ac rms1.Personnel Safety Considerations Introduction Everything about operating a railroad or a power company is focused on safety. For this reason it will be necessary for the reader to also study the detailed version of this chapter. or become involve in any number of other unacceptable events. leave the tracks. sometimes called personnel safety. Safe train operations eliminate the accidents in which trains hit things. and hazardous electrical levels are just as unacceptable. ac interference can cause mis-operation of signals. Magnetic Induction A minimum criteria for steady-state voltage induced on railroad facilities by magnetic induction would be to limit voltage to a maximum of 50 V ac rms point-to-point (within reach) under worst 1 National Electric Safety Code (NESC) among other standards. In a railroad environment. This fundamental aspect of safety is just as important as operational safety. Shock Hazard Electric Induction Where voltage is induced in railroad facilities by electric field induction. Care must be taken when fueling machinery under high voltage lines. if fuel is to be transferred under high voltage power lines. Railroads generally do a very good job of this. Quick-Start Version It is not possible to list levels that insure safety in all situations and are economically feasible. It does not apply to cases of magnetic induction or conduction. This would compromise safety. 7-2 . Additionally. If the ac interference levels are high enough. An example of this would be crossing gates coming down when no train is coming. The power company should be consulted for specific recommendations. But there is a second aspect of safety involving ac interference. large trucks and vehicles. As a general rule. This usually applies to high impedance communication circuits. safety can mean many things. That aspect of safety. a third aspect of safety is exposure to high-level electric and magnetic fields.

and an insulated joint has 50 V across it. Fault Induced Voltages Computer modeling can be used to predict fault current magnetic induction into railroad systems. A thorough review of the detailed version of this chapter is highly recommended (as well as study of referenced sources). See the detailed section below entitled Electric and Magnetic Field Standards and Guidelines. and provided there are no unusual circumstances requiring lower levels. The same computer models can be employed to evaluate various mitigation options. In any case. the Canadian Standards Association. There will be circumstances where stricter criteria are appropriate. However. 2 If point-to-point voltage is limited to 50 V. and the AAR/IEE Bluebook can be used provided the levels can be reasonably met with practical mitigation. this condition alone is not sufficient to insure safety in all situations. then the rails would each be limited to 25 V to ground (assuming equal block lengths and uniform excitation). But the target voltage values for safety under fault current induction need to be predetermined according to the site-specific situation. it is reasonable to evaluate the situations using the IEC 479-1 method or the IEEE Std-80 method (or both) to insure adequate safety and to insure mitigation is not unnecessarily expensive. The 430 V rms and 650 V rms levels used by CCITT. 7-3 .Personnel Safety Considerations case conditions2. What constitutes the worst-case includes: • • • Modeling various fault locations to find the one which produces the maximum voltage Fault the closest phase conductor to the track under “elevated temperature final sag” conditions Track circuit lightning arrester clamping ability may or may not be included in the worst case conditions by mutual agreement between the railroad and the power company. Electric and Magnetic Field Exposure This topic does not lend itself to a brief summary. The worst-case fault is modeled to determine the voltage.

the debate continues regarding this issue. 7-4 . While the authors have their own opinions. Levels of 9 to 22 milliamperes (mA) of current through a man’s arm can prevent him from opening his hand [32]. As a result you will see more than one possible conclusion that can be drawn from this examination of the topic. This is known as the “let go” level. Background It is generally accepted that electrical current through the body is what does the damage. all relevant Standards and opinions will be presented with enough background for the user to decide which is most reasonable for their specific situation. Table 7-1 lists different current levels and their effects on people.Personnel Safety Considerations Detailed Version Shock Hazard This section of the Handbook will explore the question of what constitutes a shock hazard and what Standards exist that we can use as guides. Unfortunately. This current level causes an involuntary contraction of the muscles that cannot be voluntarily overcome.

Serious burns may begin. source impedance. while others are unable to discern levels up to 3 milliamperes. the letgo current for infants may be as low as 3 milliamperes. Depending upon contact pressure and moisture content of flesh at contact point. 40 Watt Light Bulb Will Operate 1 milliampere (0. The question of levels of electrical safety can be broken down into groups of people and situations.Personnel Safety Considerations Table 7-1 Reactions to Various Levels of Current [33] Threshold of Sensation This varies with skin chemistry. if contact time is long enough. But Can Let Go If not grasping an object. 99. with adult males running in the upper portion of this range. 99. Electric Toothbrush Will Operate (10 Watts) Fibrillation to Cardiac Arrest Above 200 ma. and children running in the lower portion. a few individuals may be able to discern 1/2 milliampere. Painful Shock may start GFCI Breaker Will Trip Inability to Let Go (If grasping an object) The let-go current level is generally greater for larger persons. While it is the current that does the damage.001 ampere) 2 milliamperes 2 to 10 milliamperes 4 milliamperes 5 milliamperes 6 to 25 milliamperes @ 60 cycles a-c.5% of men can let go with 9 ma. For example: safety levels for trained 7-5 . involuntary muscle contraction can cause the body to jerk away from the object. heat will turn moisture into steam causing an explosive expulsion of enough material to break contact. breathing is very difficult and suffocation may have begun. Threshold of Unconsciousness and Possible Asphyxia Difficulty in breathing begins in the early portion of this range. the current is very dependent on the source voltage. As a result. Painful shock. This handbook addresses current through the body (such as hand-to-hand) of which only a portion passes through the heart. chest muscles may clamp heart and stop it during duration of shock. Variations in impedance often make it impractical to set a Standard that specifies a current limit. That value is for current through the heart muscles. thus preventing fibrillation Severe Burns and Hemorrhage Severe muscle contractions occur. at the end of the range. the contact impedance. and then the effects can be better evaluated. and the impedance of the person. Fibrillation and Asphyxia may begin Fibrillation of the heart interrupts or reduces blood flow and exacerbates breathing difficulties and reduces brain function.5% of women can let go with 6 ma. (for direct current: 41 ma & 62 ma respectively) 20 to 50 milliamperes 40 to 100 milliamperes 90 milliamperes 100 milliamperes to 1-4 amperes 200-300 milliamperes 350 milliamperes Note: Fibrillation current is sometimes quoted as starting at 20 to 40 mA. most electrical safety Standards set voltage limits that are intended to achieve the desired levels of safety. Mild Shock may start—not painful Muscular Contraction.

Second. two separate criteria are usually specified. they are generally not caused by power systems. What constitutes a “long” period of time depends on the situation. the effect on the human body of current lasting 2 or more seconds approaches the effect of continuous exposure. these systems operate within five cycles. Perhaps the only thing we can assume in this handbook is that the frequency of the electrical energy of concern will be primarily 50 Hz or 60 Hz. what does “steady-state” really mean in this context? We will typically use the term steadystate to refer to conditions that are maintained for 2 seconds. Also. but they usually don’t affect railroads because their levels are too low to damage equipment or create a shock hazard. The first is the steady-state level. Typically. A level of current that can cause ventricular fibrillation if applied continuously (steady-state). the level of ac interference from power systems into railroad facilities varies in amplitude and duration depending on the source and the path of the energy. The levels that are safe for steady-state exposure will be different from the levels for very short exposures. 7-6 . not a transient. Transients are generally disturbances with a duration of less than a few cycles. or more. There are true transients in the power system. Duration of Exposure The effect electrical energy has on a person can be dependent on the duration of the exposure. For these reasons. Shorter duration events often do not affect operation. There are two reasons for this choice. While there are transients that affect railroad signal systems and personnel. In fact.Personnel Safety Considerations workers might be different from those applied to the general public. Steady-state interference is ac energy that is either continuously present. Steady-State Exposure Electrical engineers understand transients and steady-state conditions.083 seconds (5 cycles at 60 Hz). So. Sometimes these limits are stated as being applicable for power systems with “high speed relaying”. Things like lightning cause them. and they are too short to have a noticeable affect on signal operation. might not be a danger if it lasted 0. (There are actually seven different definitions of “transient” in the IEEE Standard Dictionary of Electrical and Electronic Terms [34]) We will not be using the word transient much in this handbook. because ac interference from power line faults lasts longer than a few cycles and is. therefore. or is present for long periods at a time (possibly intermittently). High speed relaying refers to systems that act like circuit breakers and turn off the line if a fault occurs. First. or 0. The second criterion is for short duration exposures. While the ability of the human body to withstand currents lasting less than 2 seconds is dependent on the actual duration. durations greater than 2 seconds usually affect operation.083 seconds at 60 Hz. the effect of a power line fault could more accurately be described as a steady-state condition of short duration. when railroad signal equipment operation is an issue.

The summary provided by the IEC [36] consolidates available information into time-dependent current curves of increasing probability of ventricular fibrillation with no dependence on body weight. Steady-state does not always mean continuous.Personnel Safety Considerations Now that we understand what we mean by steady-state.5 seconds from the first. but a reasonable allowance can be made by using the sum of individual shock durations as the time of a single exposure. is illustrated in Figure 7-1. ranging from approximately 30 to 250 milliseconds for transmission systems. The threshold. 7-7 . Table 7-2 Time/Current Zones for AC 15 Hz to 100 Hz (IEC 479-1: Table 4. Chapter 18. Intermittent steady-state interference can be the hardest to track down. Automatic reclosure can result in subsequent events starting within less than 0. The interference level that caused you problems an hour ago might be gone by the time you get your test equipment hooked up. IEEE Standard 80 [35] notes that the cumulative effect of two or more closely spaced shocks has not been thoroughly evaluated. Reclosure3 after a ground fault is common in modern electric utility practice. Short Duration Exposure The power system fault condition generally is of short duration. where ventricular fibrillation is unlikely. The induced voltage and currents for a single-phase to earth fault are typically much higher than for other fault conditions or the steady state. 1994) 3 Refer to the definition in the Glossary. there is another term that we need to know: intermittent.

This standard was developed to provide safety guidelines for persons working within ac power substations.Personnel Safety Considerations Figure 7-1 Time/Current Zones of Effects of AC Currents 15 Hz to 100 Hz (refer to Table 7-2 for instructions)(IEC 479-1: Figure 14. The criterion for safety is the current that will not cause ventricular fibrillation for 99. The difficulty is caused by several unknown resistances in the current path from the object. 1994) The guideline that is most often used in the United States and Canada to assess the personnel shock hazard associated with fault current energization of conductors is IEEE Standard 80. and to ground or to a return conductor. through the person. Evaluation of the current that will flow through a person that contacts an energized structure can be complex. 7-8 . The document provides guidelines for personnel safety for short duration shocks such as may occur during a transmission-line fault event. which extrapolates animal study results to humans. The survival current is a function of the shock duration. The current for 99. The guideline is primarily based upon the work of Dalziel.5% of the population. The equations presented in the IEEE standard are also shown on the graph.5% survival of a shock event is shown in Figure 7-2 for persons of two different weights (see the two straight lines in Figure 7-2).

and actual accident records. Furthermore. Applying Ohms Law to these reasonable assumptions results in a voltage threshold of 20 Volts rms ac. while the IEEE guidelines do (see the curved line in Figure 7-2). significant difference in opinion exists regarding the applicability of bodyweight scaling for evaluating fibrillation thresholds.0 99.1 50kg (110lb) Person 0.5 Ib=0. the following is from a 1973 IEC document [37]: 7.157/t 0. The steady-state limit for ac exposure is a good example.Personnel Safety Considerations 1. Standards makers have tried to find a balance between laboratory or academic evaluations. and that the source impedance is insignificant (<< 2000 Ohms). it is reasonable to assume zero contact resistance. Experience with voltages not exceeding 50 V rms ac or 75 V dc “From the replies given by several countries to a questionnaire. it is reasonable to use a body impedance value of 2000 Ohms when voltage is about 50 V rms ac. Philosophy of Setting Standards Traditionally. 1994 . it appeared that there is no conclusive evidence in any of those countries of accidents occurring under usual circumstances at supply voltages not exceeding 50 V rms ac or 75 V dc and caused by a current passing through the body that led to serious injury. in determining threshold levels and limits in standards. The IEC guidelines do not consider body-weight scaling. On the academic side.1 1 10 Current Duration (seconds) Figure 7-2 IEEE Std 80-1986 Guideline and IEC 479-1. On the other hand.01 0. It is also reasonable to use 10 milliamperes as a let-go limit.” 7-9 .5 % Non-Fibrillation Current (Amps rms) 70kg (155lb) Person 0.116/t From IEC 479-1. 1994 0.Survival Body Current As noted above.0 0.5 Ib=0.

S.” Clearly. Bulletin de la Societe Francaise Des Electriciens. thus the criterion within this standard is set at 15 volts. This process is not wrong.’ Transactions on Medical Electronics. there are exceptions. PGME-5. 1956. Standards citing a 50 V limit include: • • • • • • OSHA AAR/EEI Bluebook (60 V rms ac) IEEE 80 NEC NESC AREMA But. Institute of Radio Engineers. Paragraph 5. Prudent design would suggest an even lower value under certain circumstances. As explanation. NACE and other pipeline Standards organizations have chosen to apply the calculated values despite the absence of accidents at these voltages. A reasonable safe value for the purpose of estimating body currents is 1.Personnel Safety Considerations To the best of our knowledge. In other work by K.” Similarly. Conservative design would use an even lower value.F.F.2. One of those exceptions can best be summarized by quoting from the Foreword of NACE Standard RP0177-95 [38]: “Some controversy has arisen in the latest issue of this standard regarding the shock hazard stated in Section 5. they note: “The value of 15 V has been selected as a practical mitigation level [emphasis added] that falls within generally accepted guidelines for exposure of the general public to continuous 60 Hz rms voltage. Together.1 and elsewhere in this standard. George Bodier. Gelges and C.1.000 ohms.500-ohm load would yield a current flow of 10 milliamperes. Dalziel on muscular contraction. the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) [39] also identifies a 15-volt value for pipeline induced voltage personnel safety. Dalziel. Some industries may accept different voltage levels where trained personnel or other technical factors are involved. the inability to release contact would occur in the range of 6 to 20 milliamperes for adult males.500 ohms hand-to-hand or hand-to-foot. Such a body of evidence has usually led to establishing 50 V rms ac (or 60 V) as the limit for exposure to steady-state voltages. But the resulting value is not the only reasonable value. that 1973 statement is still accurate today. 7-10 . the laboratory/academic evaluations and real-world data make up the body of evidence upon which we base Standards. The reason for a more conservative value in this revision of the standard is that early work by George Bodier at Columbia University and by other investigators has shown that the average hand-to-hand or hand-to-foot resistance for an adult male human body can range between 600 ohms and (1) 10. October 1947. C.(2) Ten milliamperes hand-to-hand or hand-to-foot is generally established as the absolute maximum safe let-go current. Fifteen volts ac impressed across a 1. ‘The Effects of Electrical Shock on Man.

it appeared that there is no conclusive evidence in any of those countries of accidents occurring under usual circumstances [emphasis added] at supply voltages not exceeding 50 V rms ac or 75 V dc and caused by a current passing through the body that led to serious injury. be unreasonable. So we must define what constitutes usual or unusual circumstances before setting standards for these distinct cases. how do you mitigate unacceptable voltages levels? There are many ways (see Chapter 13). you bury a bare metallic ribbon near the pipe. because the track must carry electrical signals. and bond that ribbon to the pipe at regular intervals. So the railroad industry needs to take care in setting standards. This practical mitigation eliminates the touch potentials by providing a local ground reference for the pipe. or other conductors Failed railroad insulated joints 7-11 . So the difference is simply this: the pipeline industry can set an extremely conservative voltage limit and build to that limit with relative ease. It would not be reasonable to place prohibitive restrictions on railroads or power companies – especially since there is insufficient data of actual accidents to support such low voltage limits. cable. But all of these ways have their limits. in creating standards some consideration should be given to unusual circumstances. In some cases it would simply be impossible. With a pipeline.Personnel Safety Considerations There are differences between pipelines and other receptors of ac interference.” It is implied that accidents occurring under “unusual” circumstances. So. would have been excluded from this survey. if any. mitigation of ac interference is relatively straightforward. Usual Circumstances One aspect of the philosophy of setting standards is what constitutes “usual circumstances”. However. the cost of further mitigation can actually exceed the cost of the power line itself! Pipeline-type levels cannot be achieved with practical mitigation on railroads. and whether or not the same limits need to be imposed on both usual circumstances and unusual circumstances. With a railroad the situation is very different. The cost of meeting such a limit would. None can eliminate excess voltage as effectively as grounding. This procedure has a cost. You cannot ground the track. When the voltage limit is very low. Historically it has been common practice to limit the scope of standards to “usual” circumstances. but that cost is substantially less than the cost of the pipeline itself. Some examples of circumstances that may or may not be considered “usual” are: • • • Pedestrians trespassing on railroad tracks (as opposed to pedestrians crossing the tracks at grade crossings) Vandals damaging or stealing wire. Take another look at the quote from the IEC document: “From the replies given by several countries to a questionnaire. If you expect that voltages will exceed acceptable levels (steady-state or fault). in the way that pipelines do. But the railroad industry cannot. in many cases.

the computer modeling is based on “worst case” situations. In essence. a balance is sometimes achieved by realizing that it is extremely unlikely that two or more unusual circumstances will happen at the same time and place. Sound engineering judgment is needed to evaluate these issues. this process becomes part of the mitigation.) But where magnetic induction causes ac interference. To mitigate ac interference so that personnel safety limits are maintained with a failed insulated joint can result in significant expense. Steady-State Limits As described above. usual) condition?” Most railroad signaling systems are designed to continue to work if only one insulated joint is shorted. uncertainty. The following provides a brief review of the above factors. the signals fail. Transforming these current-based thresholds into their corresponding voltagebased thresholds adds an additional level of complexity. On the other hand. a single failed insulated joint can double the rail-to-ground voltage. The question is: “Is a failed insulated joint a normal (i.. But what constitutes a worst-case situation is sometimes elusive. in greater depth. In this section we will examine. To mitigate ac interference so that a railroad signaling system will continue to operate correctly with a failed insulated joint is often impossible. If every worstcase condition possible were assumed to be happening at the same time and place. If a failed insulated joint is not considered a usual circumstance. some of the justifications used for the various values proposed. (If a second joint fails. increase the voltage across adjacent insulated joints by 50%. One example of an area of disagreement is failed insulated joints. or days) When planning a new power line parallel with a railroad. then no amount of mitigation could guarantee safety.e. hours. since the physiological response appears to be current or currentdensity dependent. and variability that can be contributed to by: • • • The impedance of the current path through the body The impedance of the energized conductor circuit The type of coupling to the conductor from the power system These factors suggest that care is essential in interpreting a voltage-based guideline or objective.lasting minutes.Personnel Safety Considerations • Power line contingencies (abnormal steady-state operation of power lines at higher loads due to equipment failure or maintenance . steady state limits of ac interference for personnel safety have been debated for some time. and increase rail-to-rail voltage ten-fold. The current-based thresholds reviewed above reflect the present state of knowledge and are the most effective indicators. then a process must exist to inspect and repair them. Body/Contact Impedance The body current that results from an ideal voltage source can depend on several factors including: 7-12 .

IEC 479-1 presents measured values for the total body impedance and its dependence on voltage for a hand-to-hand current path for a large contact area. the IEC results of Figure 7-3 should provide a conservative range of total body impedance for use in identifying railroad safety objectives for lower voltage. the impedance increases for a given voltage. For example. which is not exceeded by 5% of the population. The total body impedance depends on the voltage for low-impedance low-voltage sources. However. large contactarea exposures.4 in2). the impedance for an area of 100mm2 (about the tip of a finger) is an order of magnitude higher than for an area of 1000mm2. Dry skin. And. Induced rail voltage 7-13 . with the interface between the conductor and the skin playing a dominant role. is shown in Figure 7-3. 10000 Percentage population with resistance 95% Total Body Impedance (ohms) 50% 5% 1000 Large area contact: 8000mm2 (12. the contact area for railroad track maintenance may be expected to be larger than for contact with typical communications/signal conductors. For example. IEC 479-1 notes that the dry contact impedance for an area of 1000mm2 (about one 2 finger) is approximately an order of magnitude higher than for 8000mm (about the size of the palm of a hand). 100 10 100 Touch Voltage (Volts rms) 1000 Figure 7-3 Values of Total Body Impedance Hand-Hand or Hand-Foot for AC 50/60 Hz (Trend Lines Through Data Values Presented in IEC 479-1) The contact area and skin moisture conditions for common field maintenance situations in which railroad system conductors could be energized by power line system coupling cannot readily be determined.Personnel Safety Considerations • • • • the path through the body the conductor/skin contact area the pressure of the conductor/skin contact the moisture content and surface wetness of the skin. with the body impedance increasing for lower values of voltage. Their impedance data. As contact area is reduced. The impedance to current flow through the human body can vary over a wide range.

Safe contact voltage. Test instruments based on these circuits have been constructed and are used to simulate the electrical properties of a human body. The figure also shows an equivalent circuit for the arrangement. while magnetic induction or earth-current coupling is generally more important for low-impedance circuits such as rails. Conductor Circuit Impedance The impedance of the energized conductor circuit can have a significant effect on the current that will flow through a person who contacts the conductor. magnetic induction.k. all the collected current flows through the parasitic wire-to-ground capacitive impedance. Electric Induction Excitation – Electric induction (capacitive coupling) results in a distributed current being collected along the exposed length of a conductor as is shown in Figure 7-4. the current that flows through a person contacting the conductor (with the switch closed in Figure 7-4b) will not be sensitive to the impedance of the person. such as many pole-line signal circuits. measuring or calculating the voltage of the conductor for normal conditions does not provide a good indication of the shock current that can flow through a person who touches the conductor. The current that flows through a person contacting an energized conductor depends not only on the voltage but also on the resistance of the person and the impedance of the conductor circuit. The resistance through a person can be much less than the high impedance of the conductor circuit. Before the person contacts the energized conductor. I. for either the rails or the rolling stock. which can result in high values of steadystate electrically induced voltage. Signal conductors that are isolated from earth. resulting in a voltage between grab bars (a.a. Source Impedance The voltage and the current that can be drawn from the conductor will be influenced by the coupling mechanism (electric induction. as represented in the equivalent circuit with an open switch in series with the resistance of the person. For that condition. or earth conduction) between the power system and a signal-system conductor. Electric induction is typically only important for high-impedance receptor circuits like pole-line signal circuits. a UL leakage-current instrument has a resistance of 1500 ohms at 60 Hz. Similarly. in which the total current collected by electric field coupling to the conductor is represented by a current source. hand holds and handrails) and the earth near the track. to simulate the resistance for a person grasping a handle or other grippable conductor. The hazard associated with this type of circuit should not be evaluated 7-14 . may be relatively low due to the larger contact area involved. Thus. The IEC has created model circuits that simulate the body impedance for evaluating leakage current or touch current over a broad range of frequencies. to thousands of ohms for signal pole-line conductors. can have relatively high values of capacitive impedance to earth.Personnel Safety Considerations can also transfer to a locomotive or rail car on an energized segment of track. The equivalent source impedance of railroad-signal conductors energized by 60-Hz power coupling can range from less than one ohm for rails. At 60 Hz the resistance of these instruments is 2000 ohms [40].

7-15 . the current to ground may only be a few milliamperes. Voc. But. but by the current. The open circuit voltage measured from the truck to ground may be thousands of volts. dis cur tribute ren d t dis cur tribute ren d t I (a) Electrostatic-Coupled Current to Person I Cwg Voc Rman I man (b) Equivalent Circuit of Energized Conductor and Man Figure 7-4 Electrostatic Coupling to Conductor Touched by Man 4 An example of the effect of electric induction would be a large truck parked under a transmission line.Personnel Safety Considerations by the voltage induced onto the circuit. that can flow through a contacting person4. The NESC requires transmission lines be designed such that this short-circuit current to ground is no greater than 5 mA for the largest anticipated vehicle. Iman. if an electrical connection is made to ground (sometimes through a resistor to simulate a person).

the victim and the circumstances limit the current. As described earlier. The isolated signal-line condition is in contrast to telephone or communications conductors that are earthed at some remote location (central office). This guideline is consistent with a 10 mA let-go threshold and a 1500 ohm body-path impedance. safety factors are applied. If an abnormal condition develops on a normally high-impedance circuit. Signal conductors that are well isolated from earth. Unfortunately. and the results are compared to recorded experience. Other Considerations As noted earlier. such as many pole-line conductors. The hazard associated with this type of circuit should be evaluated based on the voltage induced onto the circuit. Typically. But. The following is provided for the reader who wants to delve deeper into the topic: The pipeline industries in the United States [41] and Canada [42] have identified a steady-state personnel safety touch potential guideline of 15 volts for power-line-induced voltage on pipelines. The common practice is to select a value of opencircuit voltage. and the recorded experience doesn’t often line up with the theoretical result. statistical distributions are identified. If a short circuit is created to ground. the current to ground may be many Amperes because of the low impedance of the circuit. it is important to apply good engineering judgment to specific situations. 7-16 . the short-circuit current to ground is a good measure of the hazard. In addition to these issues. a variety of standards exist that employ a 50-Volt maximum limit on steadystate 60 Hz ac rms exposure. People also have very different ideas as to what safety factors are appropriate. such as low impedance to ground at a remote location. These guidelines are applied for a wide range of conditions. the resistance of the ground rod will probably be the limiting factor in the current to ground. a direct measurement of the current is impractical. there are various philosophies and methods for arriving at voltage limits. Rails may have a sufficiently low impedance to earth such that the current through a person contacting the rail is controlled primarily by the impedance of the person and the voltage of the rail. But for low impedance receptor circuits excited by magnetic induction or conduction. Voc. may have impedance high enough to prohibit hazardous magnetically induced current from flowing through a person contacting the conductor. So. Voltage Limits Derived From Current Effects For high impedance receptor circuits excited by electric induction. The 5 mA limit for electric induction does not apply for circuits excited by magnetic induction. as the maximum acceptable limit for the situation being evaluated. 5 If a circuit is excited by magnetic induction the voltage will usually be less than 50 Volts. Voc5. the circuit is no longer high impedance. test results usually vary wildly depending on conditions. different industries have different concerns that impact the selection of an open-circuit voltage limit.Personnel Safety Considerations Magnetic Induction Excitation – Magnetic coupling results in an induced voltage that is distributed along the exposed length of a conductor. with a low impedance electrified object. If it all fits. tests are conducted under various conditions. In fact. those results become the limit.

39 in * 0.000 ohms for dry hands at 25 volts [45]. For the steadystate exposure presented in this section (greater than 2 seconds). the let-go criteria is the usual standard. The energized conductor for the pipeline industry is assumed to be of large diameter. But.3 identifies an acceptable longitudinally induced voltage in railway signaling and communications circuits as 50 V ac rms under normal power line conditions. to the extent that the human hand can get “around the part”.” Why does it matter if a part is grippable? This section is concerned with steady-state exposure. This Canadian standard also limits the voltage across insulated rail joints to 50 V. selecting the appropriate let-go current value and arriving at a voltage target involves many considerations. which may require special instructions and marking. it is recommended that the permissible continuous induced voltages be limited to 60 volts rms. One difference between the pipeline and telephone industry guidelines is the size of the likely contact area to an energized conductor. perhaps 100 mm (0. 150 V is acceptable. If it is too large to be “grippable”.155 in = 0. The IEEE Std 776 [43] identifies that “50 V rms continuously induced with respect to ground at 60 Hz on telecommunications facilities has historically been considered an upper threshold by many telecommunications companies in North America” for personnel safety.. For many years the idea of applying probabilistic risk assessment has been discussed. the International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee (CCITT) [44] notes that “To avoid danger. and limits the maximum rail-to-remoteearth voltage to 25 V.Personnel Safety Considerations This is in contrast to the telephone-industry guidelines that identify considerably higher safe touch potentials. the body current for contact with small-diameter signal and communication conductors can be much less than for large conductors such as pipes. The small contact area may cause total body impedance in the range of 200. such that it can be contacted with a large area of the hand.) This definition of a grippable conductor appears to be applicable to un-insulated ends of track lead wires.” The Canadian Standard CSA-C22. Similarly. like a 12-inch diameter pipe.. The IEC [46] defines a grippable part as “a part of the equipment which could supply current through the human hand to cause muscular contraction round the part and an inability to let go. the object must be grippable – able to get your fingers around it and hold on. Some of them are: 7-17 . But. for a given conductor voltage. as well as rail cars or locomotives. Work in this area is just beginning. As such. This applies to screened or unscreened cables or open wire lines to which access is required for work operations by staff. Thus. So it is necessary to consider the specific situation in determining a voltage limit. Parts which are intended to be gripped with the entire hand are assumed to be grippable. the small conductors associated with communication/signal cable and open-wire 2 2 conductors have a small surface contact area. The idea involves applying a rigorous process to determine the likelihood of the worst-case conditions and the appropriateness of the safety factors applied in selecting safety limits. and possibly to rails. In contrast.3 No. (Careful here: The pipe has a valve somewhere – and that valve has a grippable handle. for a comparable conductor voltage (all other factors being equal). then let-go might not be an issue. the common limit is a let-go level.39 in) or less. Under special conditions. for let-go to be a concern.

3% of range for men – – – – – 64% of range for women 93. with conductive solutions. wetted with fresh water are 10% to 25% lower (1800 to 1500 Ω). 7-18 .2% of range for all adults Large adult hands (8. Extrapolated to 15 V would be about 2000 Ω (Figure 6 shows the 5% total body impedance for 10 V to be about 3500 Ω).” (1800 to 1000 Ω).000 mm ) on cylindrical electrodes (both hands) Valid for 95% of the adult population Between fresh water and conductive solution levels 6 2 – 1500 Ohm body path resistance – In other words.Personnel Safety Considerations • • • • • • • General public or trained personnel Adults or children Grippable or not grippable Hand contact or step potential Boots or bare feet Dry skin or perspiration Dry earth or salty slush Possible Target Values The bad news is that this Handbook will not give you one clear design limit. From page 19. Little or no statistical data. What follows are a few possible steady-state levels and the assumptions made to derive them: • 50 V ac rms – – • No conclusive evidence of accidents under usual circumstances that led to serious injury below 50 V. There are too many case-specific variables to do that with due diligence. And. 15 V ac rms – 10 mA let-go current – 99. this value is unnecessarily low for a situation if any of the following are true: – – Contact area is less than both hands firmly grasping conductors The individual in question is one of the majority of adults who have a let-go threshold above 10 mA 6 From IEC 479-1: Table 1 shows 5% total body impedance for 25 V is 1750 Ω. as regards both safety and practical reality. “… down to half the values measured in dry conditions.

But there are several reasons that this is unlikely: • • 7 Most power transmission lines are rarely operated above half of their rated capacity.) Wet with “clean water” conditions (as opposed to conductive solutions) The individual is a child – the contact area of hands would be too small But what if the 50% values are used for total body impedance and let-go? • 2625 Ω (IEC 479-1) x 15 mA [47] = 39. That usually includes the following: • • • Maximum loading on power line Single-circuit operation of power lines (phase cancellation eliminated) Maximum point-to-point voltage (usually across an insulated joint on the rails)7 Common practice does not include the following: • • • Failed insulated joints Grounded track circuits (shorted arresters or other inadvertent grounds) Defective power system or railroad equipment The bottom line question seems to be whether the 50 V ac rms safety limit is adequately safe. So.Personnel Safety Considerations – – – – The individual in question is one of the 95% of adults with higher total body impedance Dry conditions exist (skin.4 V) – Adult-sized hands for contact area – Grasp objects with both hands (or be standing barefoot in salt water) – Have hands saturated with salt water So. soil. In cases of magnetic induction. and very well connected to an energized conductor at another. The reason for doubt comes from the fact that it is possible for a person to exceed the let-go current level at lower voltages if they are very well grounded at one point. the IJ voltage can be twice the rail-to-ground voltage. Common practice used to be to design to maximum rail-to-ground voltage of 50 V ac rms. Multi-circuit power lines use phase cancellation during normal operation to reduce induction. what operating conditions do we design for? The common practice is to design for a “worst case” condition.4 V – This is less than 50 V. etc. this change alone cut design levels in half. So why isn’t half the population stuck to energized metal things? – For this criteria to apply all the following must happen: – Elevated voltage must be present (>39. 7-19 .

which is shown in Figure 7-5. The model includes the contact resistance from two feet to soil but ignores any shoe resistance. ventricular fibrillation is the primary concern. For exposure to ac current from short-duration events. assumes the resistance of the person to be 1000 ohms and ignores any contact resistance from person to object. Persons contacting the signal wires have a much smaller contact surface area and greatly increased total body resistance. which was developed to provide safety guidelines for persons working within ac power substations. With only one or two IJ’s per mile (typically) it is very unlikely that a person would contact the rails directly at the point of greatest exposure. The model. While the various 50 Volt ac rms standards for steady-state exposure apply in most areas (including North America). informed maintenance personnel. or taking action to reduce the voltage present. For short-duration current to the human body. For example. But this combination of events is not impossible. establishing work rules to remove the risk. Consideration should be given to who will be contacting the conductors. the contact area is so small that the total body impedance would limit the current. We are benefiting from the fact that a hazardous combination of events is improbable. such as for contact with a power-fault energized conductor. with mutual impedance ignored. For signal personnel who might be exposed to leads across an insulated joint. Limits for Faults and other Short-Duration Events A reasonable personnel safety objective for power-system coupling to railroad-system conductors is to minimize the chance for lethal body current for fault-conditions. special cases may arise requiring additional restrictions. rail-to-ground voltages will rarely exceed 25 V. 7-20 . Persons contacting equipment enclosures are protected by the buried ground wire network in the earth around the enclosure. If circumstances arise where several of these factors are present at once. may tolerate higher levels of available current than maintenance personnel who expect a ‘non-energized’ circuit with no special precautions.Personnel Safety Considerations • • • • • • Persons contacting the rails are standing on crushed rock ballast that is a very poor path to ground. The feet contact to the soil is considered equivalent to two 6-inch diameter metal disks. Selection of more than one objective may be warranted if different levels of personnel awareness and precaution are incorporated. With point-to-point voltages limited to 50 V. using special procedures. or if the general public has ready access to the conductor. the recognized United States standard is IEEE Std-80. it might be prudent to limit risk by removing the personnel from the area. The IEEE has standardized on a simple model to relate the voltage on a fault-energized object to the current that may flow through a person contacting the object.

While the IEEE-80 guideline for personnel safety for power faults depends on both the body weight and fault duration. the curves of Figure 10 give the safe touch potential as approximately 570 volts. for a fault on a line that is constructed to usually accepted technical standards for the class of line involved.5 seconds duration. Use of the values for a smaller mass person may be more appropriate in situations where access by the general public to an energized conductor is likely.5% safe touch potential is plotted in Figure 7-6 for a 70-kilogram (155 lb) person and in Figure 7-7 for a 50 kg (110 lb) person. For example. 7-21 .2 seconds for the majority of cases. for several values of soil resistivity.1 second (6 cycles).000 ohmcm). The tolerable voltage is increased to 650 volts for a fault on a high-reliability line. The 99. These two guidelines instead recommend a voltage limit of 430 volts rms. for a soil resistivity of 100 ohm-m (10.5% non-fibrillation body current of Figure 7-2. A high reliability line is characterized by the duration of fault events: • • faults never exceeding 0.5 ρ) The model of Figure 7-5 allows the safe touch potential to be determined that will cause the 99.Personnel Safety Considerations Ib V 1000 ohm 6” Soil ρ Ib = Figure 7-5 IEEE-80 Fault Touch Potential Model V (1000 + 1. other guidelines such as the CCITT [48] and the Canadian Standards Association [49] do not depend directly on those parameters. and are less than 0. and a fault clearing time of 0.

Personnel Safety Considerations 10000 70 kg (155 lb) person Safe Touch Potential (volts) Soil Resistivity (ohm-m) 1000 1000 500 100 100 0.5% Safe Touch Potential (70 Kg Person) 10000 50 kg (110 lb) person Safe Touch Potential (volts) Soil Resistivity (ohm-m) 1000 1000 500 100 100 0.1 1 Shock Duration (seconds) Figure 7-7 IEEE Std 80-1986 Guideline for 99.01 0.01 0.5% Safe Touch Potential (50 Kg Person) 7-22 .1 1 Shock Duration (seconds) Figure 7-6 IEEE Std 80-1986 Guideline for 99.

The worst-case fault is modeled to determine the voltage. What constitutes the worst-case includes: • • • Modeling various fault locations to identify the one which produces the maximum voltage Fault the closest phase conductor to the track under elevated temperature final sag conditions Track circuit lightning arrester clamping ability may or may not be included in the worst case conditions by mutual agreement between the railroad and the power company. the target voltage values for safety under fault current induction need to be predetermined according to the site-specific situation. Some countries have simply adopted or modified international organizational guidelines while others seem to have been developed for a particular occupation (such as welders). states have electric or magnetic field limits for certain voltage classifications of transmission lines within the right-of-way or at the edge of the right-of-way. and there are no unusual circumstances requiring lower levels. In any case. provided that the levels can be reasonably met with practical mitigation.S. that have adopted engineering-based guidelines or standards for transmission line electric fields. Two U. organizations have developed health guidelines for occupational and public exposure to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields. State Standards and Recommendations Related to Transmission Lines There are at least six states in the U. Sweden has established standards related to computers and computer monitors. there were no U. Electric and Magnetic Field Standards and Guidelines Introduction to Standards and Guidelines In 2003. federal government health standards or guidelines related to powerfrequency electric and magnetic fields. But. it is reasonable to evaluate the situations using the IEC 479-1 method or the IEEE Std-80 method (or both) to insure adequate safety and to insure mitigation is not unnecessarily expensive. The 430 V rms and 650 V rms levels used by CCITT. Some U. Standards or guidelines for exposure to electric and magnetic fields exist in some foreign countries.S. 7-23 . Many other states and countries have considered setting magnetic field standards. two of these states also have standards for magnetic fields. and the 1977 AAR/EEI Bluebook can be used. The purpose of most of these standards is to make the field levels from new power lines similar to the field levels from existing lines or to minimize the potential for spark discharge from the induced current on large vehicles in the electric fields of 345-765 kV transmission lines. Table 7-3 presents a summary of these standards [50]. These standards were established to limit electrical effects rather than being created from a health risk perspective.Personnel Safety Considerations Possible Target Values Computer modeling can be used to predict fault current magnetic induction into railroad systems. The same computer models can be employed to evaluate various mitigation options.S. the Canadian Standards Association.S.

8 kV/m 11 kV/m for private road crossings 3 kV/m 1.6 kV/m ------------------200 mG (max load) ------1 kV/m ------------------------- 7 kV/m for highway crossings North Dakota Oregon 9 kV/m 9 kV/m ------------------------------------- 7-24 .Personnel Safety Considerations Table 7-3 State Regulations that Limit Field Strengths on Transmission Line Rights-of-Way Electric Field Limit State Within the Right-of-Way 8 kV/m for 69 – 230 kV lines Edge of Rightof-Way 3 kV/m for 69 – 230 kV lines Magnetic Field Limit Within the Right-of-Way ------Edge of Rightof-Way 150 mG for 69 – 230 kV lines (max load) Florida 10 kV/m for 500 kV lines 2 kV/m for 500 kV lines 200 mG for 500 kV lines (max load) 250 mG for double circuit 500 kV lines (max load) Minnesota Montana 8 kV/m 7 kV/m maximum for highway crossings New Jersey New York ------11.

initially developed in 1979. based upon an assessment of available data from laboratory research and human exposure studies. This standard. 1995 [53]. published in “Background on Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health” [52]. In addition to the transmission line electric and magnetic field standard.230 kV power line 250 feet from edge of easement for 345 kV power line These limits are based on an electric field strength graph developed by EPRI. The standard also describes procedures for the calibration of instrumentation used to conduct these measurements. goals and measurement methods) [54]. the IEEE has also developed a guide for the measurement of quasi-static magnetic and electric fields (describing various types of survey characteristics.Personnel Safety Considerations In 1989. The purpose of this standard is to establish uniform procedures for the measurement of power-frequency electric and magnetic fields from overhead power lines. Guidelines for Exposure to 50/60 Hz Electric and Magnetic Fields Two organizations have developed health guidelines for occupational and public exposure to electric and magnetic fields: the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) [55] and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) [56]. While the ICNIRP reviewed all of the scientific literature. The ICNIRP established these guidelines to provide protection against known adverse health effects. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) developed a standard for measuring power-frequency electric and magnetic fields near power lines.) [57]. the California State Department of Education released a school site selection and approval guide [51] that contains recommendations related to electric and magnetic fields. The ACGIH established threshold limit values to which it is believed that nearly all workers may be exposed repeatedly without adverse health effects. etc. immediate health consequences (such as nerve and muscle stimulation.110 kV power line 150 feet from edge of easement for 220 . The guide also recommends that the local electric utility be contacted to determine if any additional power lines or upgrades to existing power lines are planned. The threshold limit values were developed as a guideline to assist in the control of health and safety hazards [58]. shocks and burns. The School Facilities Planning Division has established the following limits for locating school sites near certain high voltage power transmission line easements: • • • 100 feet from edge of easement for 100 . 7-25 . has been periodically revised and updated through March. Tables 7-4 and 7-5 present a summary of the electric and magnetic field levels of these guidelines respectively. the only adverse effects on humans that were fully verified by a stringent evaluation were short term.

nerve stimulation.g.000 mG) For workers with cardiac pacemakers. Electric and magnetic field levels as specified in these guidelines. 7-26 .833 G (833 mG) 2 mA/m2 (1 G) 8. insulation) in fields above 15 kV/m. etc.333 kV/m (8.167 V/m) 2 mA/m2 (5 kV/m) 0.000 mG). For workers with cardiac pacemakers.000 mG) Prudence dictates the use of protective devices (e. and are summarized below. gloves. maintain exposure at or below 1 kV/m. Table 7-4 Summary of ICNIRP 50/60 Hz Exposure Guidelines International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Guidelines Exposure (60 Hz) Occupational Reference Levels for TimeVarying Fields Current Density for Head and Body General Public Reference Levels for TimeVarying Fields Current Density for Head and Body 4.167 mG) 10 mA/m2 (5 G) Electric Field Magnetic Field Table 7-5 Summary of ACGIH 60 Hz Exposure Guidelines ACGIH Occupational Threshold Limit Values for Sub-Radio Frequency Fields Electric Field Occupational exposures should not exceed: 25 kV/m (from 0 Hz to 100 Hz) Magnetic Field Occupational exposures should not exceed: 60 Hz: 10 G (10. suits. shocks. 50 Hz: 12 G (12. and which would cause these types of effects.333 V/m) 10 mA/m2 (25 kV/m) 4.167 G (4.Personnel Safety Considerations Both the ICNIRP and ACGIH guidelines are based on established adverse health effects (such as burns.167 kV/m (4. the field should not exceed 1 G (1.). are much higher than typical levels found in residential and most occupational environments.

H C C C P. from guidelines and recommendations to proposed or existing standards to established regulations and orders. R m 5 to 25 10 O PS. P C C C. While many other countries have considered establishing magnetic field standards. t < 80/E for E between 10 and 30 kV/m. there are no national or foreign regulations limiting exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields from power lines. Tables 7-6 and 7-7 present a summary of international electric and magnetic field standards [59]. 10 a 5 . they range from the same to three times those at 50 Hz.3.3 12 25 G. rule.Personnel Safety Considerations International Standards Electric and magnetic field exposure guidelines have been established in some foreign countries and by some international organizations. H C. sometimes with legal force a : for up to a few hours per day and can be exceeded for a few minutes (up to 20 kV/m for 5 minutes in Austria) per day provided precautions are taken to prevent indirect coupling effects b : depending on the duration (t. often with legal force P : Perception of spark discharges or tingling sensations PD : Proposed Directive regarding the exposure of workers to physical agents (annex IV) PS : Pre-Standard R : Reference or investigation levels – may sometimes be exceeded S : Standard.1. 10 j 1 . 30 6.32. P As IRPA 5. C : limitation of induced Current density G : Guideline or recommendation H : Health – concern for possible effects O : Order.67 c b Status G PS S O. Where levels for 16 2/3 Hz are specified. R n 10 to 30b 6. H C C H P. regulation or decree. Table 7-6 Summary of International Electric Field Standards – kV/m Public Country Australia [60] Austria [61] Czechoslovakia [62] Germany – BFE [63] Exposure area 1 Exposure area 2 Italy [64] Poland [65]. [66] Switzerland [67]. O G r Basis C C P. hours per work day) of exposure . R O. 20 12. [68] UK – NRPB [69] USA – ACGIH [58] USSR [70] Organization CENELEC [71] CEU [72] IRPA [73] ICNIRP [57] 5 . 12. 19.h k Occupational As IRPA 10 to 30 15 21. 10 5 12 15. R O O G. 10 5 p a c e f g. These foreign standards vary in regulatory power. 2 and 1 hours/day respectively e : ‘exposure area 2’ (longer-time exposure or areas where fields are not normally expected) 7-27 . 30.6 10 to 30 25 b PD G G All at 50 Hz except IRPA (50/60 Hz) and ACGIH (60 Hz). although the exact interpretation of this formula differs between the three standards which use it c : ‘exposure area 1’ (controlled areas or short-time exposure) – 8.

d Status G PS O. hours per work day) of exposure. such as recreational areas. R O. O G r Basis C C C C H C C C C W As IRPA 1.Personnel Safety Considerations f: in areas or environments in which it may reasonably be expected that members of the public will spend a significant part of the day g : in cases in which exposure may reasonably be assumed to be limited to a few hours per day h : minimum distances of buildings to overhead power lines are also specified j: 1 kV/m applies where there are homes. d PS. 42.j p s. 6. 50 5 m b. 50 b. 50 4 16 10 18 to 75 6.4. regulation or decree. d Occupational As IRPA 5. they are three times those at 50 Hz. R PD G G C C C C All at 50 Hz except IRPA (50/60 Hz) and ACGIH (60 Hz).4c.6. meeting grounds. R 16d 2. 10 1 16 5 . occupational – legally binding protection of workers Table 7-7 Summary of International Magnetic Field Standards – Gauss (rms) Public Country Australia [60] Austria [61] Germany – BFE [63] Exposure area 1c Exposure area 2 Italy [64] Poland [74] Switzerland [67. t = 50/E – 2 for E between 5 and 20 kV/m. between 20 and 25 kV/m. Where levels for 16 2/3 Hz are specified. and the like r : public – Federal recommendation (legally binding ordinance being considered). 2 and 1 hours/day respectively higher values are given for limbs ‘exposure area 2’ (longer-time exposure or areas where fields are not normally expected) 7-28 . 25.5.4 5 . d 4. hospitals. sometimes with legal force these values seem to have been developed primarily for electric-arc Welding for up to a few hours per day and can be exceeded for a few minutes (up to 20 G for 5 minutes in Austria) per day provided precautions are taken to prevent indirect coupling effects (additional body currents in Austria) maximum exposure duration is 2 hours per work day ‘exposure area 1’ (controlled areas or short-time exposure) – 8. R O O G. rule. C: G: H: O: PD : PS : R: S: W: a: b: c: d: e: limitation of induced Current density Guideline or recommendation Health – concern for possible effects Order. only 10 minutes exposure is permitted n : various actions would have to be carried out or requirements met before exceeding each of these levels p : for up to 24 hours per day – this restriction applies to open spaces in which members of the general public might reasonably be expected to spend a substantial part of the day. often with legal force Proposed Directive regarding the exposure of workers to physical agents (annex IV) Pre-Standard Reference or investigation levels – may sometimes be exceeded Standard. schools and the like k : 2 hours maximum m : depending on the duration (t. 4. 10 a 13.24 1 . 68] UK – NRPB [69] USA – ACGIH [58] USSR [75] Organization CENELEC [71] CEU [72] IRPA [73] ICNIRP [57] 1 . 100c p k G. 10 1 n a e g h.

keyboard use. the MPR II standard prescribes 3 levels of 16 measurement points each. luminance. places more restrictive limits on computer monitor field emissions and also includes emissions from computer systems. and other compliance requirements. A more recent standard. was developed by the Swedish Board for Technical Accreditation (SWEDAC) and provides measurement methods for computer monitor electric and magnetic field emissions within certain frequency ranges. screen flicker.28 (kA/m)2 h (this gives 8 hours at 5 G and 5 minutes at 50 G) Swedish Standards for Computers and Monitors Presently. These standards relate to electric and magnetic field emissions from computer monitors and systems. The TCO’95 standard also introduced new computer monitor requirements.Personnel Safety Considerations g: h: j: k: m: n: p: r: s: in areas or environments in which it may reasonably be expected that members of the public will spend a significant part of the day in cases in which exposure may reasonably be assumed to be limited to a few hours per day minimum distances of buildings to overhead power lines are also specified depending on duration of exposure from 8 to 1 hours per work day various actions would have to be carried out or requirements met before exceeding each of these levels for up to 24 hours per day – this restriction applies to open spaces in which members of the general public might reasonably be expected to spend a substantial part of the day. The TCO standard. and at the midpoint between these eight locations). The TCO standard prescribes that measurements be taken at a distance of 30 cm (approximately 12 inches) in front of the monitor and at 50 cm (20 inches) along the sides of the monitor (except for Band II magnetic fields and the static field. Electric and magnetic field emission requirements for computer monitors have remained constant from the TCO’92 standard through the TCO’95 and TCO’99 standards. at the four corners. This standard was established on the basis that the electric and magnetic fields around a computer monitor should not tangibly increase the field levels that are generally found in their immediate environment. developed by the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO). such as: 1. the manufacturer must have the monitor tested and certified by a TCO-approved testing facility as compliant 7-29 . where H is the field strength in kA/m and D = 1. such as recreational areas. the computer monitor to have an automatic power-down function (the display switches off automatically after a preset time of inactivity) 2. also includes guidelines related to energy consumption. and the like for whole working day public – Federal recommendation (legally binding ordinance being considered). Around the monitor. Table 7-8 presents a comparison of the differences between the MPR II and TCO standards regarding electric and magnetic field emissions. there are two electric and magnetic field measurement and emissions standards which have been developed in Sweden. These measurements are conducted at sixteen equidistant locations around the monitor (at the center of all four sides. which was established in 1992 and expanded in 1995 and again in 1999. occupational – legally binding protection of workers depending on duration (t. The earlier standard. at a distance of 50 cm (approximately 20 inches) away from the monitor. the monitor must conform to the European fire and electrical safety requirements 4. the manufacturer must declare and provide the energy consumption power requirements of the monitor 3. hours per work day) of exposure according to D = H2 t. meeting grounds. referred to as MPR II. which are measured at 50 cm (20 inches) in front of the monitor screen).

Values for electric and magnetic field emissions are the same as for TCO’92.0 V/m* MPR II Standard Less than or equal to +/.Personnel Safety Considerations Although not directly related to electric and magnetic fields. power consumption. ergonomic qualities. to show compliance with either the TCO’92. or TCO’99 requirements respectively. Manufacturers of computer monitors and systems are now providing TCO certification documentation or labeling.5 mG) Less than or equal to 25 nT (0. the new TCO’95 requirement for automatic power-down of the monitor after inactivity lowers field levels around the monitor by decreasing power consumption.25 mG) TCO Standard Less than or equal to +/. compared to the distance of 50 cm (approximately 20 inches) prescribed by MPR II. including certification of the computer system and keyboard. and ecology. This normally doesn’t include railroad signal personnel. and ecology. Safe Working Clearances from Power Lines Safe working clearances from power lines must be maintained. TCO’95.500 V Less than or equal to 25 V/m Less than or equal to 2. display image quality (luminance.500 V Less than or equal to 10 V/m* Less than or equal to 1. In the United States OSHA sets such standards. Other non-EMF related issues were also addressed. Always check with the local power company for their working clearances for untrained workers (their standard clearances may be greater than OSHA’s). but the demands for resistance to influence from external magnetic fields (VDT interference) are now addressed. since the TCO values are measured 30 cm (approximately 12 inches) in front of the monitor screen. contrast. Table 7-8 Comparison of MPR II and TCO Guidelines Electric Fields Frequency Range 0 Hz (static field) 5 Hz – 2 kHz 2 kHz – 400 kHz Magnetic Fields Frequency Range 5 Hz – 2 kHz 2 kHz – 400 kHz TCO Standard Less than or equal to 200 nT (2 mG)* Less than or equal to 25 nT (0.5 V/m * Note: The difference between the TCO and MPR II guidelines is in fact larger than shown in the table.25 mG)* MPR II Standard Less than or equal to 250 nT (2. TCO’99 standards continue this expansion by including flat screen displays. Various standards exist establishing safe working clearances from power lines. flicker and reflection). energy efficiency. Remember that the “trained” workers with reduced clearance requirements are power company workers with current training. 7-30 .

Figure 7-8 Sample of a Working Clearances Card Figure 7-9 Railroad Signal Equipment with Marginal Working Clearance 7-31 . Figure 7-9 shows as example of a signal installation with marginal working clearance from the top platform.Personnel Safety Considerations Figure 7-8 shows an example of a working clearance card distributed by an electric company. No one is sure how they managed to install this equipment.

6-M91. IEC 479-1. 36. National Academe of Corrosion Engineers (NACE). Massoglia. AIEE Paper 56-111. ANSI/IEEE Std 80-1986. 45.Part 1: General Aspects. Effects of current on human beings and livestock . F. 33. C. 42. No. Standard RP0177-95.Part 1: General Aspects.22.O. ISBN 92-61-04041-3. International Electrotechnical Commission. Mitigation of Alternating Current and Lightning Effects on Metallic Structures and Corrosion Control Systems. TX 77218. Practical Utility Safety by Allen L. 46. C. 48. “Let-Go Currents and Voltages”. 178 Rexdale Blvd.22. (c) 1999. 1990. 1994. 37. published by Clapp Research.P.3. 39. 64. 40. 38. IEEE Guide for Safety in AC Substation Grounding. 21021. Dalziel and F. Geneva 1989. IEEE Std 100-1996.3. Volume VI. Inc. Canada M9W 1R3. Mitigation of Alternating Current and Lightning Effects on Metallic Structures and Corrosion Control Systems. 345 East 47th Street. CCITT. Ontario. IEC 990 Methods of measurement of touch-current and protective conductor current. Etobicoke.. 35. Standard RP0177-95. 1956. Volume VI. Effects of Current Passing Through the Human Body. Houston. IEEE Standard Dictionary of Electrical and Electronic Terms. 1994. Clapp. P. AIEE Winter General Meeting. March 1995. Geneva 1989. ISBN 92-61-04041-3. 43. Massoglia. Box 218340. IEEE. IEEE Std 776-1992. Canada M9W 1R3. National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE). 44. 41. Principles and Practices of Electrical Coordination Between Pipelines and Electric Supply Lines. 7-32 . 178 Rexdale Blvd. New York.F. April 1973. IEEE Recommended Practice for Inductive Coordination of Electric Supply and Communications Lines. 6-M91. Danger and Disturbance. CAN/CSA-C. 34. Let-Go Currents and Voltages. Item No. Dalziel. CAN/CSA-C. Directives concerning the protection of telecommunication lines against harmful effects from electric power and electrified railway lines. CCITT. 1990. 47. IEC 990 Methods of measurement of touch-current and protective conductor current. NY 10017-2394. Directives concerning the protection of telecommunication lines against harmful effects from electric power and electrified railway lines. Inc.Personnel Safety Considerations References 32. Effects of current on human beings and livestock . May 1956. December 1996. Ontario. Committee No. P. Danger and Disturbance. Etobicoke. Canadian Standards Association. IEC 479-1. F. No. Principles and Practices of Electrical Coordination Between Pipelines and Electric Supply Lines. Canadian Standards Association.

August. International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). 1995. 1998. National Health and Medical Research Council. ISBN 1-88-241723-2. January.01/06. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation (SCC28).Personnel Safety Considerations 49. 1998. and Electromagnetic Fields (Up To 300 GHz)”. 74: 494-522. “Low-Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields – Permissible Limits of Exposure for the Protection of Persons in the Frequency range 0 Hz to 30 kHz”. “Interim Guidelines on Limits of Exposure to 50/60 Hz Electric and Magnetic Fields (1989)”.S. 3. 53. “Questions and Answers About Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power”. Magnetic. “Background on Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health”. Canadian Electrical Code. ISBN 1-88-241723-2. 1989. Government Printing Office. 60. International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). 1995. 61. CA. 1987. CSN 33 2040. 62. IEEE Standard 1460-1996. “A Summary of Standards for Human Exposure to Electric and Magnetic Fields at Power Frequencies”. C22. “Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents”. B. Cincinnati. Washington. Electrical Coordination. and Electromagnetic Fields (Up To 300 GHz)”. 179: 51 – 65.3 No. “School Site Selection and Approval Guide”. 1994 (in German). 1979 (in Czech). 56. California State Department of Education. Maddock. Cincinnati. “Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric. 74: 494-522. 1998. Electric Power Research Institute. Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Health Physics. 52. Prague. IEEE Standard 644-1994. DOE/EE-0040. 54. DC. 1989. 51. “Protection Against the Influence of Electrical Fields in the Closeness of Electrical Transmission Systems for 750 kV and Above”. Magnetic. March 28. “Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents”. 59. “IEEE Guide for the Measurement of Quasi-Static Magnetic and Electric Fields”. 55. 1998. “IEEE Standard Procedures for Measurement of Power Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields From AC Power Lines”. IEEE Power Engineering Society. “Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric. CIGRE Electra No. February. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Part III. 57.J. March 7. National Institute of Environmental Health Studies (NIEHS) and U. Joint Working Group 36. U. 1997. Austrian Standard S1119. Department of Energy (DOE). 50.S. 7-33 . Health Physics. Canberra. 58. Sacramento. 1998.

1984 (in Russian). 1987. 3-29. June 1995 (in German). “Electric Fields of Industrial Frequency”. “Maximum Limits of Exposure to Electric and Magnetic Fields Generated at the Rated Power Frequency (50 Hz) in Indoor and Outdoor Environments”.94. CENELEC. “Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Caused by EHV Overhead Power Lines”. 1994 (in German). Pilatowicz. Health Physics. European Prestandard ENV 50166-1. Brussels. Geneva. 70. “Proposal for a Council Directive on the Minimum Health and Safety Requirements Regarding the Exposure of Workers to the Risks Arising from Physical Agents”. 1995. 1993 (in German). Frequency Range 10 Hz to 100 kHz”. or Electromagnetic Fields”. 1992 (in Italian). Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana. GOST 12.8. 17 November 1980 (in Polish). World Health Organization. Environment Text Series No. item 101. Luzern. 74. Order of the Ministry of Health. Forests and Countryside (BUWAL).1. 113-122. 75. 68. Documents of the NRPB. Swiss Federal Office for environment. 71. Berufsgenossenschaft der Feinmechanik und Electrotechnik. 1-69. International Non-Ionizing Radiation Committee of the International Radiation Protection Association. 72. “Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields. Berne. 4.Personnel Safety Considerations 63. “Limit Values in the Workplace”.002-84. “Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields – Low Frequency (0 Hz to 10 kHz)”. J. no. 65. C 230. Arciszewski and A. 214. 66. “Order of the Council of Ministers dates 5 November 1980 in the Matter of Detailed Principles of Protection Against Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation Harmful to People and the Environment”. 64. 67. 1990. 1993. USSR Official State Standard. OJ No. “Environmental Health Criteria 69: Magnetic fields”. Report of a Working Group. 23 December 1994 (in Polish). “Regulations for Safety and Health Protection in the Workplace for Exposure to Electric. 1989. “Interim Guidelines on Limits of Exposure to 50/60 Hz Electric and Magnetic Fields”. Magnetic.104. N. 73. 19. pp 277-278. 7-34 . Moscow. Warsaw. “Board Statement on Restrictions on Human Exposure to Static and Time Varying Electromagnetic Fields and Radiation”. Law Gazette. CIGRE SC36. Part 2. 58. 69. Decree of the Prime Minister. Schweizerische Unfallversicherungsanstalt (SUVA). 25.

In this capacity he is responsible for research into issues ranging from interference with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). including in-house and field research into ac power interference problems. He is married to a woman who actually understands why he takes pictures of power lines and railroad crossings while on vacation. followed by more than twelve years at Safetran Systems’ Electronic Division in California. Inc. While at Safetran he worked in the Technical Support Department on a variety of projects. and governmental agencies. In 1990. and pipelines. EMF management. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem. He worked for AIL Systems as an integration lab manager. an investigation into poor shunting with the Association of American Railroads. ANSI. increased transmission capacity. Brian Cramer is the Technical Manager for Electromagnetic Compatibility in the Power Delivery group of EPRI. he was responsible for maintaining effective working relationships with the two dozen railroads within ComEd’s service territory. He later worked for Lockheed Electronics performing research and development on advanced phased-array antenna systems. Michael R.8 FIELD MEASUREMENTS This chapter provides test procedures and other resources to facilitate testing and evaluation of potential ac interference cases. Other projects include the effects of High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI) on power systems. Later. 8-1 . and worked for General Dynamics’ R. with responsibility for all B-1 bomber electronic countermeasures systems. as Technical Expert for Inductive Coordination and Electrical Effects at ComEd.F. he joined Commonwealth Edison (Exelon) in Chicago. He is a member of IEEE. and now does independent consulting work for Timerider Technologies. the development and delivery of customer training programs including portable track simulators. electric utilities. and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). to broadband data transmission over power lines (BPL). and the resolution of specific customer application problems with crossing warning systems. Pennsylvania. He is a member of IEEE and AREMA. where his responsibilities included right-of-way and site selection. with a diverse base of customers including railroads.. railroads. Guidance Design Group for six years. In 2001. the design of train-motion simulator systems for motion sensors and crossing predictors. he joined EPRI to manage the recently formed EMC Program. House earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. and CIGRE. AREMA.

8-2 . if necessary.Field Measurements Introduction This chapter contains a compendium of test procedures associated with the Investigation and Diagnosis chapter and the Diagnostic Flowchart. General Precautions for all Test Procedures 1. If steady-state rail-to-ground voltages are in excess of 50 volts. then special work rules. highway traffic. Also included are several reference figures and tables which the reader may find helpful. then insulated electrical gloves should be used when taking these measurements. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. as there is often too much individual variability in railroad signal equipment installations to produce more definitive guidance with such simple tests. or if railroad equipment has been catastrophically damaged in the past. and pedestrians. Some of these results will be probabilistic. and can only suggest the correct course of action. each of which acts as an input to the flowchart. 3. and instructions on interpreting the results of the test. a list of test objectives. job safety briefings. such as high voltage rubber gloves are probably not necessary. a required equipment list. 2. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. Obtain working time on the tracks. if necessary. This includes personal protective equipment. a test procedure. possibly due to power line faults. Each test procedure contains an overview. If there has not been any history of catastrophic equipment damage and the rail-to-rail voltage is determined to be less than 50 volts steady state. Each test procedure is designed to produce one or more results or “discriminants”.

Field Measurements Tests Table 8-1 Diagnostic Flow Chart Tests Test Number 1 2 3 4 Description Excessive common mode voltage Measure dominant frequency Check for excessive track circuit unbalance Rail-to-rail ac interference spectrum Page 8-7 8-10 8-13 8-16 Table 8-2 Resolving Track Circuit Unbalance Test Number 5 6 7 8 9 10 Description Coarse Rail Balance Test Rail-Rail and Rail-Ground Spatial Voltage Distribution Test Insulated Joint Test Direct Measurement of Insulated Joint Resistance Alternate Insulated Joint Test – No special equipment Arrester/Equalizer Test Page 8-20 8-24 8-28 8-34 8-38 8-40 Table 8-3 Locating Conducted Sources Test Number 11 12 Hardwire Shunt Testing Local Ground/Power Company Neutral Isolation Test Description Page 8-43 8-45 8-3 .

Field Measurements General Information Table 8-4 Voltage versus dBV Equivalence 8-4 .

Field Measurements Figure 8-1 Magnetically Induced Rail Voltage 8-5 .

Field Measurements Figure 8-2 Effects of Track Circuit Unbalance on Magnetically Induced Voltage 8-6 .

1 ea. these measurements should be made near the point where the most-severely affected signal equipment is attached to the rails of the track. a 4-foot copper-plated ground rod. 2. the highest voltages will probably be found across insulated joints. But. or Radio Shack store (part #15530. 3. 1 ea. if the path is magnetic induction. or equivalent) 2. such as a (Fluke model 87 D. and may constitute a personnel hazard. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. 4. Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. if necessary. Such a condition constitutes excessive common-mode voltage. 4. Most measurements will be rail-to-ground (common mode). job safety briefings.M. if necessary. Hammer to drive temporary ground rod. highway traffic. Note: An inexpensive ground rod can be obtained at almost any hardware. electrical supply. Choose a test location on the tracks where you can safely make several voltage measurements while watching for train traffic. 8-7 . Obtain working time on the tracks. Equipment Required 1. and pedestrians. is available for about $10).Field Measurements Test #1 – Excessive Common Mode Voltage Objectives To determine if continuous ac interference voltage at any location exceeds 50 V rms.M. small temporary ground rod or really large screwdriver. Procedure 1. 3. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. This includes personal protective equipment. If possible. Alligator test clips and wires (as required). or magnetic induction from parallel power lines. Overview Excessive common-mode ac interference voltage on railroads usually comes from one of two sources: either a direct conductive path from a voltage source.

Note: Some experts in the field recommend not performing this test at the readily available terminals inside of the equipment enclosure (bungalow. 9. At the case or signal housing location. Alternatively. and record them. and may make them more difficult to interpret. so using the permanently connected track leads may be preferable. 8. the available ground terminal at most signal equipment locations is usually better than any temporary ground rod. 7. However. Attach an alligator clip lead to the ground reference (or ground rod or screwdriver) to provide easy access to the ground connection. a personnel hazard may exist. 6. Recording equipment can also be left in the equipment enclosure for longer term monitoring.Field Measurements 5. 10. DO NOT USE the “ac + dc Volts” setting (if your meter has one). Measure the average ac voltages from each rail to ground (at this location) and record them. as this can provide misleading results. 8-8 . etc. The signal bungalow or case is also a safer location than being out on the track itself. determine which track circuit terminals apply to each rail and each side of insulating joints. Measure the ac voltages from one rail end to the other rail end across each insulated joint.) because you cannot always guarantee the quality and purity of the ground connection inside an equipment location. and find the ground reference terminal on the surge panel. you may drive a temporary ground rod at any location desired. Remove the temporary ground rod (if installed) and remove all other test equipment from the track area. particularly for the rail-to-rail voltage measurement. Move a safe distance away from the tracks. Set your voltmeter for ac Volts. provided that there is adequate soil conductivity. with 10 volts or less being typical. A ground connection with foreign voltages and currents on it may significantly affect the readings taken. and may eliminate the need for “track and time”. Second Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude Most cases of true induction on railroads result in rail-to-ground voltages of 50 volts or less. signal case. Interpretation of Measurements First Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude If continuous ac rms voltage at any location exceeds 50 volts. the possibility of a conductive connection to a source of ac power should be more seriously considered than if these voltages are below 10 volts. If the magnitude of the rail-to-ground voltages exceeds 10 volts ac rms. Temporary connections to exposed rail are also often poor.

8-9 . look at every possible connection point from the rail with the highest rail-to-ground voltage to other circuits. Consider all other circuits as potential sources of interference until proven otherwise. and can apply dangerously high voltages to the rails.Field Measurements If the source of the problem appears to be conduction. as they are normally supplied from a higher-voltage (240 V ac) service than most signal equipment. The insulation on electric switch heaters (“calrods”) should be examined especially closely.

determine which track circuit terminals apply to each rail and each side of insulating joints. Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. is available for about $10). Choose a test location on the tracks where you can safely make several voltage measurements while watching for train traffic.Field Measurements Test #2 – Measure Dominant Frequency Objectives To determine the dominant frequency of the ac interference. 3. Procedure 1. Overview The dominant frequency of ac interference is usually the fundamental (60 Hz or 50 Hz) or the third harmonic (180 Hz or 150 Hz). Alternatively. Obtain working time on the tracks. Alligator test clips and wires (as required). Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. 5. Note: An inexpensive ground rod can be obtained at almost any hardware. If possible. and pedestrians. then it is probable that the source is associated with nearby transmission facilities (higher voltage). If the third harmonic (or another harmonic) is dominant. if necessary. then it is probable that the source is associated with distribution facilities. 8-10 . This includes personal protective equipment. provided that there is adequate soil conductivity. or Radio Shack store (part #15-530. 2. electrical supply. or Audio-Frequency Spectrum Analyzer (or Frequency-Selective Voltmeter) 2.M. job safety briefings. such as a (Fluke 87 D.M. if necessary. small temporary ground rod or large screwdriver. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs. or equivalent). 1 ea. Hammer to drive temporary ground rod. a 4-foot copper-plated ground rod. 4. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. 4. and find the ground reference terminal on the surge panel. these measurements should be made near the point where the most-severely affected signal equipment is attached to the rails of the track. Equipment Required 1. 1 ea. 3. you may drive a temporary ground rod at any location desired. highway traffic. At the case or signal housing location. If the fundamental frequency of the power system is dominant.

Measure the average ac voltages from each rail to ground (at this location) and record them. Note: Some experts in the field recommend not performing this test at the readily available terminals inside of the equipment enclosure (bungalow.M. Temporary connections to exposed rail are also often poor. . Recording equipment can also be left in the equipment enclosure for longer term monitoring. measure the audio frequency (0 to 1000 Hz) spectrum with a spectrum analyzer or frequency-selective voltmeter . DO NOT USE the “ac + dc Volts” setting (if your meter has one). Attach an alligator clip lead to the ground reference (or ground rod or screwdriver) to provide easy access to the ground connection. signal case. 10. Remove the temporary ground rod (if installed) and remove all other test equipment from the track area. as this can provide misleading results.Field Measurements 6. particularly for the rail-to-rail voltage measurement. A ground connection with foreign voltages and currents on it may significantly affect the readings taken. 9. Set your voltmeter for ac Volts. Select the frequency mode on the D.or. and may eliminate the need for “track and time”. The signal bungalow or case is also a safer location than being out on the track itself. 8. and may make them more difficult to interpret.) because you cannot always guarantee the quality and purity of the ground connection inside an equipment location. Figure 8-3 “Hz” Button on Fluke 87 to Display Dominant Frequency of AC Voltage 8-11 . However. so using the permanently connected track leads may be preferable. the available ground terminal at most signal equipment locations is usually better than any temporary ground rod. etc.M.and record the results. Move a safe distance away from the tracks. 7.

a personnel hazard may exist. Second Discriminant: Dominant Frequency The dominant frequency of ac interference is usually the fundamental (60 Hz or 50 Hz) or the third harmonic (180 Hz or 150 Hz).Field Measurements Figure 8-4 Hand Held Audio Frequency Spectrum Analyzer Interpretation of Measurements First Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude If continuous ac rms voltage at any location exceeds 50 volts. If the level of the fundamental is greater than the level of the third harmonic. If the third harmonic (or another harmonic) is dominant. then it is probable that the source is associated with distribution facilities. 8-12 .M. then the frequency counter in the D. and it is probable that the source is associated with nearby transmission facilities (higher voltage). will show either 50 of 60 Hz.M.

and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel.Field Measurements Test #3 – Check for Excessive Track Circuit Unbalance Objectives To determine if excessive track circuit unbalance is contributing to the problem by converting common mode interference (rail-to-ground) into differential mode interference (rail-to-rail). or equivalent) 2. highway traffic. Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor equipped with an audio-frequency island circuit. coded ac track circuit). is available for about $10). 4. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. Procedure 1. and pedestrians. Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. a 4-foot copper-plated ground rod. these measurements may be easier to make and interpret if all nearby track circuit transmitters are turned off. Obtain working time on the tracks. if necessary. these measurements should be made near the point where the most-severely affected signal equipment is attached to the rails of the track. track circuit balance is very important in areas with higher levels of environmental ac interference. small temporary ground rod or really large screwdriver. If you are near (within 1000’ of) a point on the tracks where ac electrical signals are being applied to the track (AFO transmitter. Because the coupling mechanisms that allow ac interference into track circuits tend to introduce almost the same levels into both rails. This includes personal protective equipment. job safety briefings. If possible. 2. Overview It is rail-to-rail ac interference that usually affects the operation of railroad signal equipment. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs. electrical supply. 4.M. 3. there is usually very little rail-to-rail interference. if necessary. 3. 1 ea. Note: An inexpensive ground rod can be obtained at almost any hardware. Hammer to drive temporary ground rod. AFO transmitters 8-13 . This test determines the percent (%) unbalance of the track circuit. Alligator test clips and wires (as required).M. 1 ea. For this reason. such as a (Fluke 87 D. or Radio Shack store (part #15-530. any unbalance in the track circuit will change some of the rail-to-ground voltage into rail-to-rail voltage. Equipment Required 1. But.

Alternatively. Attach an alligator clip lead to the ground reference (or ground rod or screwdriver) to provide easy access to the ground connection. At the case or signal housing location. so using the permanently connected track leads may be preferable. All three measurements can easily be completed in under a minute. 6. you may drive a temporary ground rod at any location desired. etc. Recording equipment can also be left in the equipment enclosure for longer term monitoring. Move a safe distance away from the tracks. multiplied by 100. 5. The percent unbalance is equal to the rail-to-rail voltage divided by the rail-to-ground voltage. DO NOT USE the “ac + dc Volts” setting (if your meter has one). Note: the following measurements should be taken as close together (in time) as possible in order to minimize error introduced by fluctuating conditions. 7. Choose a test location on the tracks where you can safely make several voltage measurements while watching for train traffic. However. Set your voltmeter for ac Volts. and may eliminate the need for “track and time”. 8. determine which track circuit terminals apply to each rail and each side of insulating joints.) because you cannot always guarantee the quality and purity of the ground connection inside an equipment location. provided that there is adequate soil conductivity. A ground connection with foreign voltages and currents on it may significantly affect the readings taken. 12. and record it. Remove the temporary ground rod (if installed) and all other test equipment from the track area. Note: Some experts in the field recommend not performing this test at the readily available terminals inside of the equipment enclosure (bungalow. as this can provide misleading results. the available ground terminal at most signal equipment locations is usually better than any temporary ground rod. 9. use a frequency-selective voltmeter tuned to the power fundamental or harmonic frequency. signal case. Track circuits can then remain in service. Measure the average ac voltages from each rail to ground (at this location) and record them.Field Measurements and coded track circuits are of particular concern due to their powerful and/or pulse-mode outputs. Measure the ac voltage rail-to-rail. Or. (% Unbalance = 100 * Vr-r / Vr-g) 8-14 . particularly for the rail-to-rail voltage measurement. or use a spectrum analyzer. and find the ground reference terminal on the surge panel. and may make them more difficult to interpret. 11. The signal bungalow or case is also a safer location than being out on the track itself. Temporary connections to exposed rail are also often poor. 10.

Field Measurements Interpretation of Measurements First Discriminant: Degree of Track Circuit Unbalance Track circuit unbalance should be less than 10%. this is still no guarantee that rail-to-rail ac interference will not cause operational problems. 8-15 .2 volts. If track circuit unbalance is greater than 10%. The 1977 AAR/EEI Bluebook specifies a 50V point-to-point maximum (60V really). This is based on OSHA exposure levels. then the sources of unbalance must be identified and the degree of unbalance reduced. such equipment is often susceptible to mis-operation with levels of 180Hz as low as 0. If track circuit unbalance is less than 10%. Yet in reality. then 10% unbalance results in 5V rail-to-rail. If the 50V is railto-ground. The AREMA signal manual requires that grade crossing electronics withstand 5V or 10V at 60Hz and/or 180Hz from rail to rail.1 to 0.

Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. 3. Connecting the “ground” side of an input to a rail will normally place a direct connection to ground on that rail. job safety briefings. 8-16 . and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. Test Leads (as required) 3. Caution: the inputs of most ac-powered audio spectrum analyzers and most frequency-selective voltmeters are connected to the common (chassis or shield) ground of the unit. highway traffic. It may also rule out ac interference as the source of the problem. and may be made with the Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor equipment still in operation. If possible. This includes personal protective equipment. use a battery-powered spectrum analyzer. including its probable source and mechanism of coupling and whether the ac interference originates from transmission or distribution sources. these measurements should be made near the point where the most-severely affected signal equipment is attached to the rails of the track. Overview Obtaining spectral information from the track can provide enormous insight into the possible existence. and pedestrians. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains.Spectral Analysis Test Objective This test is designed to yield insight into the nature of the interference. When ac powered. AC Power Isolation Transformer (if needed) Procedure 1.Field Measurements Test #4 . Obtain working time on the tracks. Audio-Frequency Spectrum Analyzer (or Frequency-Selective Voltmeter) 2. This measurement may be made at the signal equipment enclosure. 2. if necessary. this could lead to wildly inaccurate results. Under some circumstances. If possible. and possible source of ac interference present on railroad tracks. this is also connected to the ground prong of the power supply cord. specific type. or even test equipment or railroad signal equipment damage if preventative measures are not taken. Equipment Required 1. if necessary.

) 6.M. Record the spectrum of voltages present between the rails. including the lowest-frequency power-line harmonic that is above the highest railroad signal equipment operating frequency in use. If the rail-to-ground spectrum from the track matches one of these two spectra. before connecting spectrum analyzers. The levels of all railroad signal equipment operating frequencies in-use within the section of track should be recorded. 7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 measuring the rail-to-ground spectrum of each rail. 8-17 . there is a strong likelihood that the source of the ac interference is a nearby power distribution line. there is a strong likelihood that the source of the ac interference is a nearby transmission line. (Recalibration of the spectrum analyzer may be required due to the impedance mismatch between the analyzer and the 10x probe. The spectrum of a transmission line can best be measured using a spectrum analyzer connected to a magnetic field coil held directly under the line. Interpretation First Discriminant: Ratio of AC Power Fundamental to First Odd Harmonic If the strength of the 180 Hz component (third harmonic) is near or higher than the 60 Hz fundamental.) should also be recorded. Connect the spectrum analyzer’s input across the two rails of the affected track. Always check rail-to-ground ac voltage with a D. then both sources may be contributing to the problem. or at least take specific measurements at the frequencies of interest and record them. Remove the temporary ground rod (if installed) and all other test equipment from the track area. The levels of all power-line related frequencies (60 Hz. If the strength of the 180 Hz component (third harmonic) is substantially below the level of the 60 Hz fundamental. Move a safe distance away from the tracks. etc. Use an isolation transformer on the power supply cord of the spectrum analyzer if necessary. then you know which is the source. The distribution spectrum can be measured using a clamp-on current probe with the spectrum analyzer on a pole ground wire. or is from a distribution line with extremely well behaved loads.Field Measurements 4. and not a transmission line (see Figure 8-5). Caution: Rail-to-ground ac interference levels can exceed the allowable input levels of audio frequency spectrum analyzers. If uncertain. If the rail spectrum has harmonic levels (relative to the fundamental) between these two extremes. being careful not to accidentally ground either rail via the grounded reference terminal of an unbalanced input on the spectrum analyzer (or frequency-selective voltmeter). look at the spectrum of nearby power lines. Note: It is possible that ac interference from both transmission and distribution sources contribute in approximately equal proportions. 120 Hz.M. 5. 180 Hz. Using a 10x oscilloscope probe with an audio frequency spectrum analyzer can be an effective precaution.

Field Measurements Figure 8-5 Spectrum of Rail-to-Ground Voltage Caused by AC Distribution Line Second Discriminant: Fundamental to First Even Harmonic Ratio If the strength of the 120 Hz second harmonic component (first even harmonic) is not at least 10 dB below the level of the 60 Hz fundamental. If defective. the rectifier must be repaired or replaced. Once the suspected rectifier (power supply) has been identified. This can be verified by turning off each rectifier in turn. 8-18 . 1 There is one style of track circuit. it should be tested by checking its output for excessive ac ripple while the rectifier is connected to a resistive load that draws the same amount of current as the track. if it has sufficient power. However. and has a diode connected across the track some distance away. Third Discriminant: Power and Proximity to Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor Operating Frequency The presence of an ac interference rail-to-rail voltage can only affect the operation of track circuits such as a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor when the interfering signal has sufficient power and/or proximity (in frequency) to the on-track operating frequency of the railroad signal equipment. This is generally a function of the frequency selectivity of the track circuit’s receiver. The specifications vary by equipment manufacturer and specific application. This is not the rectifier being referred to here. ac interference energy can affect track circuits operating at almost any frequency. while monitoring the level of 120 Hz on the track. there is a strong likelihood that the source of the ac interference is a noisy rectifier of some kind connected to the track1. The rectifier in this case is part of the power supply used for a conventional dc track circuit. known as an AC-DC or “Style C” track circuit that applies an ac voltage to the rails.

interfering signals stronger than 10 dB below the level of the operating frequency of the Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor have a potential for causing mis-operation.. If the interference energy is outside of ±25% of the operating frequency of a motion sensor or crossing predictor. If the interfering voltage on the track is roughly the same magnitude (i. it generally will not cause operational problems until the interference level is high enough to saturate the track circuit’s track transformers. it will generally not interfere with the operation of these track circuits. Within this frequency range. abnormal operations are likely. If the interference energy is lower in power than this.Field Measurements A rough rule of thumb for Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors is to look for ac interference frequencies (the power-line fundamental or its harmonics) that are within ±25% of the operating frequency of a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor.e. with mis-operation becoming almost assured when the level of interference is 10 dB or more above the level of the signal equipment operating frequency. 8-19 . roughly the same dB level as signal equipment operating frequency).

they can be unequal in their degree of connection to ground (“remote earth” potential). and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. Hammer to drive temporary ground rod.Field Measurements Test #5 – Coarse Rail Balance Test Objectives To make a rough determination of the amount of voltage present on the rails near the affected signal equipment. a 4-foot copper-plated ground rod. 1 ea. is available for about $10. If possible. they can be unequal in their degree of connection to a source of ac voltage that is referenced to ground. 8-20 . 1 ea. or the presence of a track unbalance which is converting induced common-mode ac interference voltages into differential-mode (rail-to-rail) voltages that can interfere with the operation of railroad signal equipment. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs. Overview Railroad rails can be “unbalanced” in one of two ways. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. highway traffic. Equipment Required 1. 2. or Radio Shack store (part #15530. Procedure 1. First. Secondly. small temporary ground rod or really large screwdriver. such as a (Fluke 87 D. these measurements should be made near the point where the most-severely affected signal equipment is attached to the rails of the track.M.M. job safety briefings. The second will produce unequal voltages without the presence of an external electromagnetic field. 3. Note: An inexpensive ground rod can be obtained at almost any hardware. if necessary. electrical supply. if any. This test can help determine which of these two processes is occurring. The first case will produce unequal induced voltages in the presence of an electromagnetic field. Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. which may either indicate the presence of a conductive path between a rail and the ac power grid. if necessary. or equivalent) 2. and pedestrians. This includes personal protective equipment. Obtain working time on the tracks. 3.) 4. Alligator test clips and wires (as required).

you may drive a temporary ground rod at any location desired. or use a spectrum analyzer. particularly for the rail-to-rail voltage measurement. as this can provide misleading results. DO NOT USE the “ac + dc Volts” setting (if your meter has one). All three measurements can easily be completed in under a minute. Measure the average ac voltages from each rail to ground (at the same location as the previous measurement) and record them. Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor equipped with an audio-frequency island circuit. Note: the following measurements should be taken as close together (in time) as possible in order to minimize error introduced by fluctuating conditions.Field Measurements 4. and find the ground reference terminal on the surge panel. 9. and may make them more difficult to interpret. 5. and may eliminate the need for “track and time”. Temporary connections to exposed rail are also often poor. determine which track circuit terminals apply to each rail and each side of insulating joints. A ground connection with foreign voltages and currents on it may significantly affect the readings taken. Set your voltmeter for ac Volts. Remove the temporary ground rod (if installed) and all other test equipment from the track area. Move a safe distance away from the tracks. Track circuits can then remain in service. these measurements may be easier to make and interpret if all nearby track circuit transmitters are turned off. Measure the average ac voltage from one rail to the other and record it. 7. 11. signal case. the available ground terminal at most signal equipment locations is usually better than any temporary ground rod. Alternatively. so using the permanently connected track leads may be preferable. Attach an alligator clip lead to the ground reference (or ground rod or screwdriver) to provide easy access to the ground connection. etc. Choose a test location on the tracks where you can safely make several voltage measurements while watching for train traffic.) because you cannot always guarantee the quality and purity of the ground connection inside an equipment location. If you are near (within 1000’ of) a point on the tracks where ac electrical signals are being applied to the track (AFO transmitter. 10. AFO transmitters and coded track circuits are of particular concern due to their powerful and/or pulse-mode outputs. use a frequency-selective voltmeter tuned to the power fundamental or harmonic frequency. 8. At the case or signal housing location. Note: Some experts in the field recommend not performing this test at the readily available terminals inside of the equipment enclosure (bungalow. 6. Or. provided that there is adequate soil conductivity. The signal bungalow or case is also a safer location than being out on the track itself. coded ac track circuit). However. Recording equipment can also be left in the equipment enclosure for longer term monitoring. 8-21 .

roughly within ±10% of one another. this strongly suggests that ac interference is probably not the cause of the mis-operation. This is a case of conduction. The presence of an unbalance between the ac rail-to-ground voltages of approximately 30% or more is an indication that the track is unbalanced in some way. or any other connection from rail-to-ground or from rail-to-rail around an insulated joint that affects one rail of the track more than the other. The insulation on electric switch heaters (“calrods”) should be 8-22 . with respect to ground. this strongly suggests that ac interference is not the root cause of the mis-operation. a shorted rail-to-ground track arrester. Second Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude If the ac voltage on each rail.Field Measurements Interpretation of Measurements First Discriminant: Rail-to-Rail Voltage Magnitude If the ac voltage from rail-to-rail is less than 0. If the ac interference voltage is truly a result of electric or magnetic induction from nearby power lines. In this case the source of the unbalance and the source of the energy are the same. If the magnitude of the rail-to-ground voltages exceeds 10 volts ac rms. both rails would normally be affected equally. Consider all circuits as suspect until proven otherwise. and one of the following two scenarios is likely occurring: a. If the source of the problem appears to be conduction. This can be caused by one or more shorted insulated joints. with 10 volts or less being typical. i. and should show approximately the same rail-to-ground potential. The rail-to-ground voltages are being caused by induction. but there is an unbalance between the rails in terms of their individual impedance to ground.e.4 volts rms during periods of abnormal railroad signal equipment operation. b. Third Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Magnitude Most cases of true induction on railroads result in rail-to-ground voltages of 50 volts or less. the unintended connection. the possibility of a conductive connection to a source of ac power should be more seriously considered than if these voltages are below 10 volts. is less than 10 volts rms during periods of abnormal railroad signal equipment operation. look at every possible connection point between the rail with the highest rail-to-ground voltage and other circuits. not induction. Fourth Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Balance Severely unbalanced track will be characterized by ac rail-to-ground voltages that are grossly unequal. The unbalance in voltages is the result of an unintended connection from one rail to a source of ac energy such as a “hot” neutral (via a shorted arrester).

M. as they are normally supplied from a higher-voltage (240 V ac) service than most signal equipment.M.). Based on these results.Field Measurements looked at especially closely. then one of two things is most likely happening: 1. the quality of the measurements is suspect. we should be able to narrow the focus of our investigation. 8-23 . If this is not the case. which will hopefully lead to an accurate diagnosis. Fifth Discriminant: Voltage Summation In most cases. etc. and select additional tests to verify the initial clues provided by this test. there are phase differences between the voltages (not directly measurable with a D.) Each of the discriminants above provides some small piece of information. inductor. and the test should be repeated. 2. and can apply dangerously high voltages to the rails. the sum of the rail-to-rail voltage and the smaller of the two rail-to-ground voltages should roughly equal the larger of the two rail-to-ground voltages. and the cause or nature of the unbalance between the two rails most likely has some other reactive component involved (capacitor.

if necessary. which may indicate the presence and/or location of an unbalancing track anomaly. a 4-foot copper-plated ground rod. or equivalent) 2.M. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs. or Radio Shack store (e. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains.Field Measurements Test #6 – Rail-Rail and Rail-Ground Spatial Voltage Distribution Test Objective To make a determination of the distribution pattern of the voltage on the rails near the affected signal equipment. Small temporary ground rod or really large screwdriver. 4. highway traffic. Note: the track circuit does not necessarily end at 8-24 . 6. job safety briefings. electrical supply. such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. Overview Measuring the ac voltages from rail-to-rail and from rail-to-ground along the length of the affected section of railroad track can provide clues as to the type and location of a failed track circuit component which is creating an unbalance in the track. such as a (Fluke 87 D. and any other safety-related items. Contractor’s or surveyor’s Measuring Wheel (for measuring distances along the rail). Equipment Required 1. Hammer to drive temporary ground rod. Alligator test clips and wires (as required). Radio Shack part #15-530. a track unbalance that is converting induced common-mode ac interference voltages into differential-mode voltages that can interfere with the operation of railroad signal equipment. 2. works well for this. Graph Paper/Pencil or Pen (May also plot using computer graphing or spreadsheet software) Procedure 1. This may be a conductive path between a rail and the ac power grid. Obtain working time on the tracks.) 3. Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. 5.g. and is available for about $10 USD. Note: An inexpensive ground rod can be obtained at almost any hardware. if necessary. 3. This includes personal protective equipment. 1 ea. and determine the location of the endpoints of the track circuit involved. and pedestrians. 1 ea.M.

Using a contractor’s measuring wheel. Note: at least eleven measurements should be taken within the track circuit. wideband couplers. and repeat the rail-rail voltage measurement. as well as both rail-ground measurements. 8. in order to provide sufficient resolution in the graph that will be plotted at the end of the test. Ideally. The general shape of the results on a normal section of track with no operating signal equipment should resemble the figure below: 8-25 . Remove the temporary ground rod (or screwdriver). Such devices include all tunable joint couplers. Or alternatively. 10. and the soil is adequately moist. Install the temporary ground rod at the new location. turn off all signal equipment connected to the track within the portion of track to be measured.Field Measurements the first set of insulated joints encountered in each direction when moving away from the middle of the circuit. Record the results. plot them on graph paper or a computer. but outside of the ballast. 5. this will be driven into moist soil somewhere within a few feet of the tracks. This is often a nearly impossible task. hardwire couplers. Measure and record the rail-to-rail voltage. 7. as well as the rail-to-ground voltages for each rail. When measurements have been taken and recorded along the entire length of the track circuit. If possible. and drive a temporary ground rod into the soil or ballast nearby. 9. 4. but it will greatly clarify the meaning of the measurements taken. Begin at one end of the track circuit (as defined above). If a suitable temporary ground rod is unavailable. measure off one tenth (or less) of the length of the track circuit. the shaft of a really large screwdriver may be shoved into the ground with just enough of the metal protruding above ground to attach one of the voltmeter leads. and other accidental means of connection such as multiple failed lightning arresters. use a spectrum analyzer such as in test #4 and measure the power frequency and its harmonics. 6. The track circuit ends are defined by the first pair of insulated joints which have been established to be in good working order (no shorts) and which are not bypassed by any device capable of carrying the interfering frequency around the insulated joints.

the more localized the upwards voltage deviation will be. if the electromagnetic field is not constant along the affected section of track. the higher the frequency of the track circuit. In general. and may not reflect the actual magnitudes measured in any given track circuit. the data gathered at a particular location will have to be interpreted with an understanding of the test conditions that were provided. As turning off all signal equipment within a particular section of track may be extremely difficult to arrange. with the rail-to-ground measurements having a “V” shape. the voltage from rail-to-ground will be affected by this. the induced ac interference voltage will generally appear to be highest (rail-to-ground) at both ends of the track.) Of course. can cause a localized or widely distributed upward (higher voltage) deviation from the idealized figure above. It is the general shape of the curve that is important.Field Measurements Figure 8-6 Magnetically Induced AC Rail Voltages Interpretation Notice that the sample graph above shows a generally low and somewhat random voltage for the rail-to-rail measurement. The magnitude of the voltages here is arbitrary. which applies ac voltages to the rail. with the lowest rail-to-ground voltage found at or near the middle of the section. (This assumes an essentially constant electromagnetic field. For a normal section of railroad track. 8-26 . Any track circuit or other equipment.

Field Measurements First Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage If the ac interference rail-to-ground voltage on one end (at the insulated joints) of one or both rails is significantly (a few volts to several volts) higher than the rail-to-ground voltage at the opposite end. this is an indication of induced ac interference energy. and Test #2 should be repeated. or when the area of exposure to the electromagnetic field causing the ac interference voltage is less than the entire section of track (non-uniform inductive excition). or affects one rail much more than the other. When there is a mid-section voltage peak that affects only one rail. Second Discriminant: Rail-to-Rail Voltage If the rail-to-ground voltage is higher at one end of the section of track than the other. An insulated joint test should be performed. it must be repaired or replaced. this is an indication of conducted ac interference energy. This can occur when the source of voltage is a conductive path. The peak in rail-to-ground voltage will be near the center of the electromagnetic field causing the induction. this is an indication that the insulated joint(s) at the low rail-to-ground voltage are shorted or bypassed by something which can conduct the interference voltage around the insulation. and the rail-to-rail voltage is low throughout. beginning with the insulated joint on the rail with the low rail-to-ground voltage. 8-27 . this is an indication of a source of voltage that is not uniformly distributed along the section of track. and should be tested (see test #7). Third Discriminant: Rail-to-Ground Voltage Anomalies If the Rail-to-Ground voltage is highest at some point other than an end of the section of track. The rail-to-ground voltage will be highest at the point nearest the source of conducted energy. this is an indication that both of the insulated joints at the low rail-to-ground voltage end of the section of track may be shorted. If the insulated joint is found to be defective. When there is a mid-section voltage peak that affects both rails approximately equally.

Figure 8-7 Degraded IJ Converts Common Mode Interference into Differential Mode 8-28 . In the presence of an electromagnetic field. The following graph shows how a degraded insulated joint can convert common mode interference into differential mode interference. Such differential-mode voltages can directly affect the normal operation of track circuits. which can convert the normal and inconsequential presence of induced “common-mode” ac voltages into “differential-mode” voltages which appear as a difference in potential between the two rails of the track. Normally.Field Measurements Test #7 – Insulated Joint Test Objective To determine whether an insulated joint has failed (shorted-out or low-resistance). such as that which can be created by nearby ac power lines. Many railroads fail to understand the importance of having all insulated joints surrounding an isolated track circuit working properly. Railroads often continue to operate their signal systems with many latent insulated joint failures. and should be repaired or replaced. track circuits will not fail under ordinary circumstances unless two or more insulated joints have failed. Overview Failed insulated joints are frequently a significant source of track unbalance. these failed insulated joints can cause an unbalancing of the track.

are the leading hardware failures that can act as the catalysts needed to unbalance a railroad track circuit and produce an ac interference problem in a railroad track circuit. Testing of installed insulated joints cannot be done using a conventional Ohmmeter or insulation tester. And even though there are often governmental regulations that apply to the inspection of insulated joints. And the voltage of the internal source in an Ohmmeter can be as low as a tenth of a volt for some models. These shorts can exhibit a semiconductor characteristic. along with shorted lightning arresters. which is not unlike a diode. However. enforcement of these regulations has historically been lax. The degree of failure (conductivity) required for an insulated joint to cause abnormal operation of a track circuit depends on many variables. The length of the track circuits on either side of the failed insulated joint 4.M. (Optional) Insulated joint test instrument from a test equipment manufacturer 3. including: 1. with no periodic testing requirements. The strength of the electromagnetic field present 3. the importance of properly testing and maintaining insulated joints cannot be over-stated. Railroad-specified insulated joint test equipment or test set 2. 8-29 . this process is often difficult to perform accurately with the joint installed in the track. in that no current will flow (the insulation appears good) until a voltage potential of several tenths of a volt (or more) has been applied. The characteristics of the track circuit itself. Failed (shorted or at least partially-conductive) insulated joints. 2. the presence of the inevitable ballast conductance will make the insulation appear to have failed. as the internal sources used by these instruments are unsuitable. Unfortunately. as having a complete set of properly working insulated joints to define the absolute physical and electrical limits of a track circuit is essential to the avoidance of ac interference problems.Field Measurements When ac power lines and railroad tracks share a corridor. including its physical layout.M. will do). The ballast resistivity in the track circuits 5. a 10-Ohm. 5-Watt (minimum) resistor. (Optional) Insulated joint tester consisting of a 6-Volt lantern battery. and an ammeter capable of accurately measuring at least one Ampere of current (the current-measuring mode of an analog multimeter or a D. the process of testing insulated joints is very important. The presence of other track circuits or track circuit components connected to the rails. even when it is good. This will not consistently provide enough voltage to “forward-bias” the metallic short-circuits which can form inside of an insulated joint. In the case of the insulation tester. Equipment Required 1.

and pedestrians. must be considered as the first criteria for evaluating the condition of an insulated joint. 4. the prevailing railroad test standards. In all cases. It is not the intent of this handbook to attempt to define an optimum test procedure for testing insulated joints. Locate the suspected insulated joint. The applicable railroad test procedure. and a 6-Volt Lantern Battery to form a simple insulated joint tester as shown below: 8-30 . and 236. 236. rules: 234. Additional inquiries directed to the railroad’s signal maintenance personnel and department office may be required in order to make them available. 236. 1.A. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. 234. where these standards are lacking. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. specific test procedure to be followed will be outlined here. As these procedures are not used frequently enough. This includes personal protective equipment. and these are to be preferred as the primary means of determining the condition and suitability of an insulated joint in almost every case. the applicable regulatory agency standards should be applied (e. highway traffic.R. 2.g. no single. a purpose-built insulated joint testing instrument should be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. should be followed in the testing of insulated joints. Obtain working time on the tracks. If neither of these options are available. their existence is sometimes forgotten by signal maintenance personnel in the field. if necessary.59. 3.205.235.735. if available. if necessary. However. or do not follow both the intent and the specific requirements of the applicable regulatory agency standards. F. Connect an Ammeter capable of accurately measuring a current of 1 Ampere. job safety briefings. a 10-Ohm/5Watt Resistor. if any. the following procedure may be used in order to perform a basic test of an insulated joint.752 in the United States).Field Measurements Procedure Unlike the other test procedures in this chapter. Almost every railroad in North America has its own standards and procedures for the testing of insulated joints. Alternatively.

above. Disconnect the test apparatus from the rails on either side of the insulated joint. 8-31 . 4. Record the amount of current flow indicated by the ammeter. or more. Temporarily short the two test leads together and verify that the Ammeter reads approximately 550 milliamperes.Field Measurements Figure 8-8 Insulated Joint Tester 1. 2. Connect the insulated joint tester constructed in step 1). Otherwise. across the insulated joint as shown in the figure below: 3. replace the defective component or repair the wiring of the circuit.

Ballast resistivity can vary over a very wide range. with no implication that they represent “hard and fast” rules for testing insulated joints: 1. should be considered defective. no further conclusions can be drawn from this result. or may be installed in less-than-ideal ballast resistivity conditions. This considerably restricts the degree of certainty with which we can interpret the results of this test. Therefore the following broad guidelines are suggested as a means of interpreting the results of this test over a wide range of ballast conditions.Field Measurements Figure 8-9 Use of Insulated Joint Tester Interpretation The results of a standard railroad test for insulated joints should be interpreted using the guidelines provided by the railroad test procedure. results obtained using an insulated joint test instrument should be interpreted using the test instrument manufacturer’s guidelines. which produces a current reading of between 100 and 300 milliamperes. which produces a current reading of greater than or equal to 300 milliamperes. until proven otherwise. The results of the basic insulated joint test procedure described above can be affected by many external factors. 3. should be considered suspect. which produces a current reading of between 50 and 100 milliamperes. but are primarily affected by ballast resistivity. may either be defective. until proven otherwise. Any insulated joint. Without additional information about the resistivity of the ballast. Any insulated joint. Similarly. and there is no “typical” value that can be used in calculating allowable insulated joint leakage currents when measured in this fashion. 2. 8-32 . Any insulated joint.

It is the personal opinion of the principal author(s) of this chapter that when ac interference problems are encountered. 4. The greatest exception to this will be in conditions of high ballast resistivity. where the majority of the leakage current will actually be carried by a failed insulated joint. or at the very least . One path is the insulated joint. and even this result is significantly clouded by the effects of ballast resistivity2. Any insulated joint. repaired. is probably good. 3.Field Measurements 4. 2 Most insulated joint tests are actually testing the resistance of two parallel paths. The replacement cost for insulated joints usually pales in comparison to the amount of expense incurred by conducting a lengthy investigation of other causative factors and potential solutions. and not by the surrounding ballast. The effectiveness of the insulation in an insulated joint is the only discriminant produced by this test. then the measurement will reflect that lower resistance. the current measurement ranges specified above correspond to the following insulated joint resistances: 1. If one path resistance is much lower than the other. all “bad” or “suspect” insulated joints should be replaced. Defective Suspect <10Ω 10Ω to 50Ω >110Ω Need ballast info 50Ω to 110Ω Probably good 8-33 . 2. which produces a current reading of 50 milliamperes or less. Assuming ballast resistance is higher.investigated further. the other is from one rail through the ballast/earth to the other rail.

Obtain working time on the tracks. Place the current probe around the suspect insulated joint between the track leads. 2. 3. Such a measurement could be used when more common measurement techniques produce uncertain results.M. it is sometimes worth the effort to make a more direct measurement that eliminates the confounding factor of low ballast resistivity. Flexible Current Probe. 3.s are better) 2. Measure the ac current through the insulated joint using the D.M. or equivalent)(2 D. Note: This measurement is only effective if at least some ac energy is present on the rail.M. (have the current probe on its most sensitive setting – highest mV/A) 5. 1 ea.M. 36”. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. highway traffic. 8-34 .M. Overview Because the presence of an alternate path for current when testing installed insulated joints. This includes personal protective equipment. Equipment Required 1. Measure the ac voltage across the insulated joint using the D. 1 ea. if necessary.M.Field Measurements Test #8 – Direct Measurement of Insulated Joint Resistance Objective To directly measure the resistance of an insulated joint. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs.M. or equivalent) Procedure 1. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains.M. job safety briefings.M. Divide the voltage reading (volts) by the current reading (amps) to determine the resistance (ohms). such as a (Fluke 87 D. 4. and pedestrians. Alligator test clips and wires (as required).M. maximum available sensitivity (such as the AEMC AmpFlex 1000-36-2-1. LEM-Flex RR3035/36.s are available) 6. if necessary. (steps 4 and 5 can be performed simultaneously if two D.

8-35 .Field Measurements Figure 8-10 Photograph of IJ Leakage Current Test Interpretation New insulated joints usually measure 20 to 30 Megohms (20. Insulated joint impedances below 50Ω can cause 5% track circuit unbalance (see Figure 8-7). IJ impedance below 30Ω can cause 10% track circuit unbalance.000Ω). They frequently measure 300Ω to 1000Ω in the field because of ballast and contamination.000Ω to 30. current through the joint. This is adequate for track circuits that operate at 1Ω to 3Ω impedances. 10Ω is usually adequate to effectively isolate individual track circuits. and track circuit unbalance. in the presence of magnetic induction.000. higher resistance is needed to avoid unbalances that can result in abnormal operation of equipment such as grade crossing train detection electronics. The following graph shows the relationship between voltage across the joint. But.000. resistance of the joint.

14A (0. One such current probe was tested and was accurate to 1% at 1. Bad joints tend to indicate current amplitudes of 0.006A. 8-36 . The following graph can be used to accurately correlate readings with resistance and potential circuit unbalance for the current probe tested.00A.5A or more with a few volts across the joint. Current probes such as the example cited above (AmpFlex 1000-36-2-1) have a reading accuracy of 1% over their calibrated range.07A actual).Field Measurements Figure 8-11 IJ Resistance from Voltage and Current The accuracy of these reading gets worse with lower current. The reading error increased to 100% at a reading of 0. Good joints tend to indicate current amplitudes around 0. That calibrated range has a lower limit of 5A.

Field Measurements Figure 8-12 IJ Resistance from Voltage and Current – Adjusted for Tested Current Probe 8-37 .

7. if necessary. Monitor the elevated ac voltage from rail-to-rail. A “hardwire” Test Shunt. If the rail-to-rail voltage is effectively eliminated by the presence of the hardwire shunt around the insulated joint.Field Measurements Test #9 – Alternate Insulated Joint Test – No Special Equipment Objective To test for a shorted insulated joint Overview If an insulated joint is suspected of causing rail-to-rail interference by unbalancing the track circuit. Alligator test clips and wires (as required). Measure the ac voltage across each insulated joint of the nearest pair of insulated joints. 8-38 . Place the hardwire shunt around the insulated joint that had the highest voltage. and if no special test equipment is available. Procedure 1. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. such as a (Fluke 87 D. 6. Digital Voltmeter with high-impedance inputs. 3. then it is probable that the insulated joint with the lowest voltage (the one without the shunt) is shorted. in good working condition. This includes personal protective equipment.M. 2. 8. if necessary. 4. 1 ea. 2.M. Identify the pair of insulated joints with the greatest difference between their voltages. and at the first set of joints beyond it in each direction. Obtain working time on the tracks. 5. or equivalent). job safety briefings. Equipment Required 1. 3. and pedestrians. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. Note which joint had the highest voltage across it. Remove the shunt. highway traffic. this quick test can provide an initial indication of a shorted insulated joint.

If a shorted insulated joint is causing the track circuit to be unbalanced. But the point of this test is to identify a shorted insulated joint without waiting for a current probe or insulated joint tester to arrive. 8-39 . but the failed insulated joint will have been identified. shorting insulated joints in this way is a brut-force test. then shorting the accompanying joint should restore balance.Field Measurements Interpretation Clearly. The signals won’t work while the shunt is in place.

As lightning arresters in railroad signal circuits are connected from the rail. at voltages of 10 volts or less. or equivalent) 8-40 . wire. the beneficial low-firing-voltage characteristics of gas-tube arresters still tempts many railroads to use them for protecting track circuits. Simpson 260 or TS 111. or circuit path to ground. However. These are normally connected from one rail to the other of the same track. Equipment Required 1. but would not have a low enough resistance to make the track circuit of the wayside signaling system appear “occupied”. often known generically as “equalizers”. Overview Failed (shorted) lightning arresters connected to railroad tracks and other circuits can be a source of unbalance. Other protective devices.M. when the crossing warning equipment would be unable to provide adequate warning time.. the equalizer is intended to equalize the voltage potential of the two rails.Field Measurements Test #10 – Arrester/Equalizer Test Objective To determine the status (good/bad) of a lightning arrester or equalizer. wire. or other over-voltage event. An analog or digital Ohmmeter (Fluke 87 D. which would be low enough in resistance to effectively “blind” a Motion Sensor or Crossing Predictor to the presence of the oncoming train. due to their tendency to fail in a shorted fashion. to an earth ground (or some other voltage reference). such as “gas-tube” arresters. a shorted failure mode in the arrester effectively connects that rail. Different types of lightning arresters have different current-handling capabilities. A clamp-on AC current meter (Fluke 330-series. In the event of a nearby lightning strike. firing voltages. could cause a “false shunt” across the tracks. and failure characteristics. are special arresters having a lower firing voltage than arresters. they may contain a high-voltage semiconductor material that will show some slight leakage current at these voltages. The potential danger here is that the presence of two shorted arresters (one from each rail to ground). so as to minimize the potential for damage to the signal equipment.M. However. An ordinary ohmmeter can be used to determine the failure status of a lightning arrester or equalizer. or circuit path to be protected. or equivalent) 2. This could result in a train approaching a grade crossing at more than a restricted (slow) speed. Some types of arresters are not widely accepted for use on railroad track circuits. Arresters and equalizers should essentially appear as an open circuit.

3. Test Leads (as required). Once ac current is found in the ground lead of an arrestor panel. Procedure 1. 2. For threeterminal arresters. A means of physically removing the lightning arrester or equalizer from its location on the “surge panel” of a railroad signal equipment installation. the clamp-on current meter may then be used around each arrestor. This may require the use of a railroad terminal wrench. job safety briefings. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. instead of from rail-to-ground. 8-41 . 4. if necessary. Clamp the current meter around the ground lead from each bank of arrestors in the location to determine if there is ac current flowing. 4. or the conductors leading to or from it to identify the specific lightning arrestor which has failed. The presence of even a few milliamps of ac current in the ground lead of an arrestor panel can indicate the presence of a failed arrestor. Connect the ohmmeter across the two leads of the arrester. Note: once the location of a suspected failed arrestor has been narrowed down to a particular equipment installation by the use of test procedure #5 and or #6. Record the resistance(s) measured across the terminals of the arrester. Obtain working time on the tracks.Field Measurements 3. if necessary. as shown below. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. (A clamp-on ac current meter may also be used around “equalizer” devices which are connected from rail-to-rail. or may not require any tools at all for arresters equipped with snap-in socket mounts. connect the ohmmeter across the center and outer legs. as shown below.) Any surge protective device which appears to be passing even a few milliamps of current while in-circuit should be removed for testing as described below. and pedestrians. which could affect the test results obtained. 5. This includes personal protective equipment. Care should be used when removing arrestors and equalizers from their mountings so as to avoid loosening or damaging their component parts. highway traffic. as the current flow in these devices is also normally zero unless they have failed. Remove the lightning arrester or equalizer to be tested from its mounted position on the surge panel in the railroad signal equipment enclosure. Normally there will be no measurable current flowing through any arrestor or arrestor panel ground lead (<1 mA). the search for a potentially failed arrestor can be further narrowed by the use of a clamp-on ac current meter.

any arrester that shows a measured resistance of less than 1. 8-42 . almost anything with an impedance of greater than 10 Ohms will be essentially invisible to the track circuitry. However. a more proper threshold lies somewhere closer to the middle of these extremes. this is not a suitable threshold for declaring an arrester to be “bad”. In general. unless specified otherwise by its manufacturer. As the normal resistance of a “good” arrester or equalizer approaches or exceeds 1 Megohm.Field Measurements Figure 8-13 Arrester Testing Interpretation Due to the low-impedance nature of railroad track circuits.000 Ohms should be immediately discarded and replaced. but either device may read “open” when measured on most ohmmeters. The only discriminant produced by this test is a determination of whether or not an arrester or equalizer has failed in a shorted mode. Typically Arresters will show a greater resistance than Equalizers.

This test relies on the general electrical characteristics of railroad tracks and conducted interference sources. with the effectiveness dropping off more sharply after passing the receptor while proceeding away from the source. this test equipment (a hardwire shunt) will be carried by almost all railroad signal maintenance personnel. The effectiveness of the hardwire test shunt decreases as it gets farther from the source of the conducted interference in either direction from the source. This effect will reach a maximum when it is located at the source of the conducted interference. and then observe the effects of this on the affected railroad signal equipment. as the interpretation of results when shunting a track that is being influenced by inducted ac interference is much more complex. 3.) 8-43 . etc. A “hardwire” Test Shunt. provided that it is still between the source and the receptor (the railroad track circuit receiver).Field Measurements Test #11 – Hardwire Shunt Testing Objective To locate a potential conducted source of ac interference. Equipment Required 1. or its effect on the railroad signal equipment. Cell Phones. and attempts to locate the source of the conducted interference within an electrically isolated section of track. Placing a hardwire test shunt across the tracks forces an equalization of rail-to-rail voltage potentials at that point. Overview When other testing has indicated the possible presence of a conducted source of interference. Furthermore. A means of remotely communicating with an assistant (Radios. This also forces an equalization of all ac interference voltages at all points on the opposite side of the hardwire test shunt from the source of ac interference energy. 2. It does this by having the tester place a hardwire shunt across the tracks at various locations within the section of track. The effectiveness of the hardwire test shunt will increase as it is placed closer to the source. A means of monitoring either the level of the ac interference voltage across the tracks. there is a simple test which can be performed with very little test equipment. in good working condition. This test is primarily used in cases of suspected conducted interference.

at the affected location. 2. Remove the hardwire shunt from the track. highway traffic. or on the operation of the signal equipment. in order to “zero-in” on the exact location of the source. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. Interpretation Compare the effectiveness of each hardwire test shunt location in reducing the level or effect of the ac interference at the affected location. above). 6. If the source is distributed over a wide area. if necessary. 7. if necessary. Obtain working time on the tracks. Repeat steps 5) and 6) at various locations throughout the affected section of track. 8. the results of this test will probably be inconclusive. which will usually be at a set of insulated joints beyond which there have been no anomalies observed. This includes personal protective equipment.Field Measurements Procedure 1. 5. This test may be repeated. Start at one end of the affected section of track. and pedestrians. job safety briefings. if necessary. 8-44 . 4. 3. the test is complete. When the opposite end of the affected section of track has been reached. If there is a source of conducted interference (implied by other testing such as Test #5. then the source of the ac interference will likely be close to the point of maximum hardwire test shunt effectiveness. Apply the hardwire shunt to the track and note the effect of this on the ac interference voltage level. Locate the general area in which ac interference is suspected. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains.

and at the breaker box. and pedestrians. and any other safety-related items such as arranging for assistance from other personnel. This includes personal protective equipment. than it is to remove. 3. this can energize one rail of the track to an elevated ac interference potential. If there is a shorted arrester from one rail of the track to the signal ground bus. these two buses are tied together at a railroad signal equipment installation. which can often have an excessively high resistance to ground. Often it is easier to remove the single wire connecting the Neutral bus in the circuit breaker box to the signal ground bus. highway traffic. as required. job safety briefings. test. The signal ground bus is connected to a locally driven ground rod network.Field Measurements Test #12 – Local Ground/Power Company Neutral Isolation Test Objective To determine whether interference currents may be entering one of the rails from the ac power service Neutral wire. or its effect on the railroad signal equipment. 2. Equipment Required 1. Locate the signal equipment installation at which ac interference is suspected. if necessary. The power service Neutral is usually grounded at the service drop pole. 8-45 . This can energize the signal ground bus. Take all actions necessary to protect your own safety as well as the safe movement of trains. if necessary. if the Neutral bus is at some voltage potential other than ground (“local earth” or “remote earth”). A means of monitoring either the level of the ac interference voltage across the tracks. Miscellaneous hand tools. to disconnect the wire from the Neutral bus in the circuit breaker box to the signal ground bus. Obtain working time on the tracks. Overview A simple method for detecting the presence of a common type of conducted ac interference is to isolate the Neutral bus of the ac power service from the signal ground bus at the signal equipment installation. 2. Normally. Procedure 1. and re-install every track circuit arrester connected to the affected rails. However. then current will flow from the Neutral bus into the signal ground bus.

or the level(s) of the ac interference voltage on the rails of the track. 8-46 . 5. Wearing high voltage gloves. Remember that the neutral wire carries some current and may be at an elevated voltage. this is an indication that there is an unintended connection between the signal ground bus and one or more of the rails. if any. Minimizing or eliminating this conductive path will be necessary in order to minimize the voltage on the rails. so caution must be taken to ensure that the disconnected neutral does not make contact with other equipment. remove the wire connecting the Neutral bus of the power service to the signal ground bus. A thorough testing of the lightning arresters should be conducted to find the failed arrester(s). Interpretation If removing the wire between the Neutral bus of the power service and the signal ground bus reduces the level of ac interference voltage on either or both of the rails of the track.Field Measurements 4. If there are no shorted lightning arresters. Observe either the operation of the signal equipment. then the presence of another path from the power company neutral to one rail must be assumed. Usually this will be in the form of a shorted lightning arrester from rail to ground.

railroads. and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). the development and delivery of customer training programs including portable track simulators. based on the scientific method. In 2001. Pennsylvania. an investigation into poor shunting with the Association of American Railroads. Guidance Design Group for six years. Michael R.F. Later. He is married to a woman who actually understands why he takes pictures of power lines and railroad crossings while on vacation.9 INVESTIGATION This chapter provides an effective philosophy. and CIGRE. the design of train-motion simulator systems for motion sensors and crossing predictors. he joined Commonwealth Edison (Exelon) in Chicago. and the resolution of specific customer application problems with crossing warning systems. with responsibility for all B-1 bomber electronic countermeasures systems. In this capacity he is responsible for research into issues ranging from interference with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). including in-house and field research into ac power interference problems. He worked for AIL Systems as an integration lab manager. In 1990. EMF management.. ANSI. with a diverse base of customers including railroads. and governmental agencies. where his responsibilities included right-of-way and site selection. and worked for General Dynamics’ R. he was responsible for maintaining effective working relationships with the two dozen railroads within ComEd’s service territory. AREMA. followed by more than twelve years at Safetran Systems’ Electronic Division in California. House earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem. He is a member of IEEE and AREMA. and pipelines. He later worked for Lockheed Electronics performing research and development on advanced phased-array antenna systems. he joined EPRI to manage the recently formed EMC Program. He is a member of IEEE. Brian Cramer is the Technical Manager for Electromagnetic Compatibility in the Power Delivery group of EPRI. While at Safetran he worked in the Technical Support Department on a variety of projects. increased transmission capacity. Other projects include the effects of High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI) on power systems. for investigating potential ac interference conditions on railroads. electric utilities. Inc. 9-1 . to broadband data transmission over power lines (BPL). and now does independent consulting work for Timerider Technologies. as Technical Expert for Inductive Coordination and Electrical Effects at ComEd.

In this chapter we present the organized thought processes necessary to weave these strands together. Chapters 1 through 4 of this handbook provide some of the basic understanding that is needed. and receptors of the unwanted energy. For problems involving existing installations. Recognize or identify a problem (or question) 2. Form the simplest possible theory that explains your guess. this process is based on the diagnostic flow chart of Chapter 10. the systems that railroads employ to monitor and control trains and vehicular traffic. Building upon these basics. For evaluations of proposed installations. Troubleshooting Fundamentals – The Scientific Method The process of troubleshooting is essentially an applied version of the “scientific method”: 1. 13.Investigation Introduction The process of investigating ac interference problems on railroads must be an organized study designed to achieve a complete understanding of the sources. Predict the consequences and implications of that cause or answer 5. Chapters 8 through 12 provide the basis of the organized study. your prediction(s). and the experimental results. and the relevant aspects of the electric power system. Guess at a possible cause (or answer) 4. as it is really just a quick-reference outline for experienced personnel. “Who reported this?” 2. Study the available information about the problem or question 3. Devise and perform an experiment to test those predictions 6. Chapters 11 and 12 provide the process. Quick-Start Version The quick-start version of this investigation chapter should be used with great care. “What happened?” 9-2 . This organized study needs to be backed by an understanding of the principles of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). and 14 provide shared experience on which the reader can build. And. paths. Step 1): Recognition – A Report of a Problem This is when we put on our detective hats and start asking the basic who/what/where/when questions like: 1. Chapters 5 through 7. it is important to develop experience in recognizing related events that can indicate the presence of EMI problems.

only the symptoms. a. “What should have been happening at that time?” 9. “Have there been any already-identified causes of this unusual behavior?” 11. the precise nature of the unusual behavior of the system. i. “When did it stop?” 7. Question b. “Where did it happen?” 4. Examine c. We simply need to begin with a clear definition of the anomaly. This is often a key point at which serious mistakes are made. Decide “What type of deviation from normal system behavior was observed?” Did we review trouble reports of the railway and power company for this area and what information can we glean from them? (We can take some preliminary rail-to-rail and rail-to-ground voltage measurements as described in the first part of Chapter 8 and Chapter 10. “Is there anything unusual taking place that may have caused this?” 12. Sometimes we may come up with several competing hypotheses simultaneously. Usually.) Step 3): Guess at the Cause(s) When we decide that we have enough details about the problem to make an intelligent guess (called a “hypothesis”) at the cause(s) of the problem – we do so. 9-3 . “Is it still happening?” 6. “What has changed on the railway or power system?” But the first major decision made during the investigation must always be: “Did something really happen?” Step 2): Study the Problem At this point we are not concerned with the causes. “In what way was this different than the expected behavior of the system?” 8. Each of which must be tested. “Has this ever happened before?” 10.Investigation 3. “When did it happen?” 5.e. the mistakes result from not considering enough possible causes of the symptoms.

Beginning with our preliminary observations. This decision is usually a judgment call – hopefully one based on past experience. Step 6): Form the Simplest Theory that Explains the Results Once we have conducted a test. and that all components of the signaling equipment are in good working order. before we resort to less-probable hypotheses. cases of ac interference are correctly diagnosed only after many other hypotheses have been discredited. we must identify the implications of the hypothesis. the outward symptoms of ac interference can be very similar to those resulting from many other causes of railroad signal trouble. Many signal system problems are too-quickly attributed to “ac interference”. If our results do not confirm a hypothesis. and test another hypothesis. and identify those hypotheses that most correctly explain the data. Step 5): Test Each Implication We will perform the tests that will most quickly discriminate between the various competing hypotheses. we must then decide what the results mean. 2. We need to have positively identified the specific equipment or system that is causing the observed problem. Is it Really AC Interference? We should look for the common and ordinary causes of trouble first. The purpose of a theory is to explain the experimental data that we observe. or proceed to apply the theory in order to find a solution to our problem. In order to turn a hypothesis into a theory. “high-tension power lines”. and either go on to look for more ways of confirming or disproving it. and taking each of our hypotheses in turn. we need to refine one or more of them into a “theory”. If our results confirm our hypothesis. Often. and then test them. We first need to determine two things: 1. then we must abandon it. These identified implications will form the basis of our tests. the logical implications of each hypothesis must be identified. or “induction” when in fact the trouble has actually resulted from ordinary signal equipment failures or intermittencies. We need to verify that there is no underlying failure in the signal equipment that would have been detected by standard railroad signal maintenance and troubleshooting practices.Investigation Step 4): Predict the Implications Now that we have one or more guesses or “hypotheses”. Being sure that you have enough data to confirm your hypothesis and then proceeding to apply your newly developed theory is often difficult. 9-4 . then we would tend to accept it as a working theory. This is the step in the scientific method that requires us to “flesh out” our hypotheses in preparation for testing them. Unfortunately.

1. 10. 5. Ninety percent of everything is track. 6. a lot of cases of “induction” in reality turn out to be “conduction”. 7. Although ac interference can be an expensive and frustrating headache for both power companies and railroads alike. This simple fact has been the primary motivation for writing this handbook. Generally speaking. but ordinary distribution lines are more often the source of ac interference. Railroad signal circuits see the rails of the track “differentially”. there are relatively few verifiable instances of significant ac interference presently occurring in North America. and will usually be the first indicators or victims of ac interference. 4.Investigation The “Rules of Thumb” of Railroad Signals and AC Interference These are the basic facts and prevailing opinions that should guide your investigation of a suspected case of ac interference with railroad signal systems. Motion Sensors and Crossing Predictors are the most sensitive devices connected to the track. AC interference affecting railroad signal systems is poorly understood by both railroads and power companies alike. this doesn’t mean that ac interference is the cause of the problem. Detailed Version Introduction The process of investigating and diagnosing suspected cases of ac interference on railroads is one of the least understood aspects of railroad signal maintenance. Despite the thousands of miles of shared corridor exposure. because of its relative rarity. The reliability of a railroad signal component may be proportional to its distance from the track. Transmission lines may look big and menacing. 9-5 . but enough of even a non-adjacent frequency can cause operational problems. 3. expect horses. 8. not zebras. it is important to keep the actual scope of this problem in perspective. Anything which unbalances the electrical characteristics of one rail with respect to the other can act as a catalyst in turning induced common-mode voltage into rail-to-rail voltage. When you hear hoof-beats. 9. 2. we will attempt to explain the process of investigating potential ac interference problems involving power facilities and railroad signal equipment. Just because there’s some ac interference on the track. In this chapter. Many railroad signal circuits are frequency-selective.

and making sure that the storage batteries (used for battery back-up) are in good condition. They can occur even when there has been no failure in any of the hardware or software used in the railroad signal system or ac power system. it should in no way be construed as the only way of doing an investigation. The purpose of this chapter is to develop investigative tools that can be used by railroad and power company personnel to investigate ac interference problems. and examining the relationships between the various parts of the system. we must look at the combination of the railroad signal equipment and the ac power system as a single large system. In this chapter. Maintenance consists primarily of periodic testing and inspection to make sure that no latent failures have occurred (such as unintentional or “false” grounds). we’ll focus on the causes. provide some general guidance. Aside from this. but generally do not fully understand its effects on railroad signaling equipment. This is what makes the diagnosis of ac interference situations so difficult. And railroad signal maintenance personnel normally do not have much exposure to ac power transmission and distribution practice. and the sorely needed cross-pollination rarely occurs. 9-6 . nor do they fully understand the physics of electromagnetic induction. to be incorporated into your own diagnostic methodology as the circumstances warrant. And current federal regulations in the United States and Canada do not require regular testing for the presence of ac interference. The Nature of the Problem Once a signal system has been properly designed and installed on a railroad. its operation is generally quite reliable. and then discuss a suggested troubleshooting process in greater detail. Thus. These problems can arise from something as simple as a change in the characteristics of the load on the ac power system. In order to effectively diagnose ac interference problems.Investigation This relatively low rate of occurrence results in very few individuals having had the opportunity to witness and/or be involved with the repair of many such problems. The reader is hereby encouraged to read the chapters in this handbook on railroad signal circuits (Chapter 4) and power systems (Chapter 3). will we be able to fully comprehend the causes and cures of the problem. the repair or replacement of failed or damaged components on an “as-needed” basis is usually all that is required. We will begin with a general discussion of the troubleshooting process. Rather. the specialists in each area remain most comfortable within their own respective worlds. Unfortunately. with little apparent rhyme or reason. and will explain some of the concepts and methods that can be used in an effective diagnosis of ac interference problems. this handbook should be used as a reference text. They may come and go on their own schedule. and makes it necessary for us to expand both the breadth and depth of our understanding of both railroad signal systems and ac power systems. Only by looking at this system as a whole. introduce the source-path-receptor model. ac interference problems lie outside the boundaries of this routine. Although this represents the synthesis of the techniques of many different individuals who contributed to this work. Power company engineers are very familiar with unintended ac induction.

the process of troubleshooting is essentially an applied version of what engineers and scientists refer to as “the scientific method”. Therefore. It has been revised and restated countless times since. Form the simplest possible theory that explains your guess. the documentation of these methods will provide some common ground (no pun intended) for the Railroad Signal and ac Power industries. With respect to the railroad operations. Guess at a possible cause or answer 4. One description of the scientific method goes something like this: 1. Study the available information about the problem or question1 3. and was not actually a part of the earliest descriptions of the scientific method.K. starting with step #1 (above). This is not a new concept. with Galileo generally being credited as the “Father of the Scientific Method” in the 1600s.Investigation You may discover some new concepts. Hopefully. power systems have interfered with the operation of the railroad signaling. it has historically done so in one direction only. That is. your prediction(s). but the basic principles remain essentially unchanged. The art and science of diagnosing ac interference problems in railroad signal equipment is always evolving. Troubleshooting Fundamentals – The Scientific Method Regardless of what name we give to it. This chapter represents a compilation of many of the currently-used diagnostic techniques whose effectiveness has been established by experts in this field over the past several years and decades. and there are still many needed contributions. where induction from the propulsion currents supplied to the electrically-driven trains 1 This step has been added to reflect modern scientific practice. and Europe. in order to facilitate better communication and cooperation when resolving ac interference problems. and not the other way around. Recognize or identify a problem or question 2. tests. which are not discussed here. You may already have developed other valid diagnostic procedures of your own. or may only find refinements of things that you have known for years. and the experimental results. and techniques in this chapter. this is the exact opposite of the situation in the U. Devise and perform an experiment to test those predictions 6. Recognizing AC Interference Problems When interference has occurred between ac power systems and railroad signaling systems in North America. 9-7 . Predict the consequences and implications of that cause or answer 5. our first task is to accurately identify the problem.

Wrong-side failures can have grave. and takes no action to protect the safety of the system’s users. even when there are no trains around. and takes the necessary steps to 9-8 . or having the warning devices at grade crossings activated. this right-side failure behavior is triggered by a physical failure of some internal or external component. to protect the safety of the users. It does this by continually checking the safety-critical components. communication systems. condition. A right-side failure mode is a state. We should keep in mind that the most addressable cause of the problem is not always located at or near the same point in the system where the most-visible symptoms appear. and other circuits such as telephones and other communications equipment. In order to know when a signaling system is not working properly. a right-side failure mode is entered. Therefore. When a safety-critical signaling system is unable to perform its intended function. expensive. In some cases. This involves the use of measurement or detection systems such as track circuits. This action often takes the form of having wayside signals turn red (stopping the trains). signal equipment manufacturers. However. are within their proper bounds and functioning correctly. we must first understand how it normally functions. In more severe cases. digital logic. reception. or series of actions. and electric utilities due to the liability exposure that they represent. and are taken very seriously by the railroads. this receptor circuit will still be where our search begins. and even fatal consequences. and may result in either “right-side” or “wrong-side” failures. is intentionally designed to exhibit only “right-side” failures. which is designed to improve the safety of railroad operations. or sometimes the “victim circuit”.Investigation are a source of the interference. The equipment detects this failure. a “right-side” failure is said to have occurred. If they are not. Railroad signaling equipment. the system detects this condition and takes the appropriate action to preserve the safety of the users of the system. or interpretation of the relatively low-voltage and lowcurrent electrical signals used by the railroad signaling equipment. and making sure that all of the critical electrical signals and processes. A “wrong-side” failure has occurred when a safety-critical system is unable to perform its intended function. or mode of operation wherein the system takes the appropriate action. the interference may be of sufficient magnitude to inflict permanent damage to railroad signaling equipment. Generally speaking. This is often described variously as the “receptor” or “receiver” of the interference. some part of the low-power signaling equipment used by North American railroads will generally be what suffers the effects of ac interference. This can prevent the railroad signaling system from working correctly until it has been repaired. The reader is hereby encouraged to read the chapter in this handbook on railroad signaling circuits (Chapter 4) in order to become familiar with this equipment. both internal and external to the system. We will then work “upstream” from there. decoding. the effect of ac interference on railroad signaling systems is to prevent the correct transmission. and some method of displaying an indication as to when movements by trains and/or highway automotive traffic may safely be made. are the receptors. Railroad signaling systems use the laws of physics and the principles of electrical engineering to automate the process of safely moving trains around a railroad.

we must follow the basics of the scientific method. this “right-side failure” design philosophy creates a situation where even “small” amounts of ac interference (if they are of the correct magnitude. Unfortunately. we will pause briefly to introduce a memory aid that may be useful as we follow each step of the scientific method in this chapter. As the first visible symptoms are identical. Chapter 5. However. Obviously. In order to carry out each step of the scientific method. can be viewed by the railroad signaling system as cause for entering a right-side failure mode. all of the internal and external components may still be working exactly as intended.). we must investigate further in order to determine whether or not ac interference is playing a role in each case of reported problems. 9-9 . Therefore. Examine. many other smaller steps must be taken. etc.E. When a deviation from normal operation is noticed. modulation. the failure of the signaling system to perform as expected is the basis of most trouble reports submitted to a railroad’s signal department. But in the case of ac interference. and lacks many details. Therefore much of our discussion will be focused on the Motion Sensors. Question.E. The equipment used to control railroad/highway at-grade crossings (usually known simply as “grade crossings”) is among the most sensitive of all of the different types of signaling equipment used on a railroad.D. for short2. there are a number of potential causes for a railroad signaling system to exhibit right-side failure behavior. So this is where our troubleshooting process really begins: with a report of the problem.D. then it becomes a problem to be resolved by the signal department. and other audio-frequency track circuits used to control the warning devices at grade crossings. (Refer to: Abnormal Operation. Our Q.Investigation provide continued safety. In many cases. Step 1): Recognition – A Report of a Problem In order to pursue the cause of a problem in a scientific fashion. and Decide. c.E. sometimes in conjunction with other departments or agencies. and yet the right-side failure mode has still been triggered. But they are different. frequency. and this is reported to the responsible railroad maintenance personnel. b. the scientific method is only an outline. Examine. This is often the first symptom of ac interference on a railroad. which is sometimes used at the end of a mathematical or logical proof. or timing. statement (Latin for “that which was to have been demonstrated”). most of which have no connection to ac interference. or Q. 2 The mathematically inclined may try to confuse this with the Q. having only three steps: a. Decide.D. phase. is simply a way of reminding ourselves of the three most fundamental steps of the troubleshooting process: Question. these smaller steps follow a similar pattern.) However. Crossing Predictors. This sub-process is simple.

which suggests that the behavior of the railroad signaling system was significantly different than it should have been at that time. “Is it still happening?” 6. This is how we begin to carry out the first step of the scientific method (see above). the list of possible questions we could ask is endless. we are duty-bound to make a “good faith” effort at finding the cause. examine the answers.D. It may or may not have anything to do with ac interference. we must then find out as much information as possible about it. If not. “Where did it happen?” 4. “Has this ever happened before?” 10. and identify the question or problem. Once we have determined that something unusual really did occur.E. We must also remember that examining the answers often involves looking at the amount of information available and determining whether or not we have enough information to make any decision at all. But a good investigation of a reported case of ac interference begins with these basics. “When did it stop?” 7. This is where the detective work begins to fan out in many different 9-10 . “Who reported this?” 2.E. begins at the time of the first report of trouble. process. is also how we perform the second step of the scientific method. “What has changed on the railway or power system? Obviously. then we must conclude that something unusual happened. “Have there been any already-identified causes of this unusual behavior?” 11. This is when we put on our detective hats and start asking the basic who/what/where/when questions like: 1. Step 2): Study the Problem Q. and may or may not indicate the presence of a problem in need of correction . more questions must be asked and answered until a decision can be made. The first major decision made during the investigation must always be: “Did something really happen?” If there is a credible report.E.D.D. “Is there anything unusual taking place that may have caused this? 12. and decide what the answers we have gotten really mean. “What happened?” 3. “What should have been happening at that time?” 9.Investigation The “Question” part of Q. We ask these basic questions (and more). “When did it happen?” 5.but once we have established that an unusual event which could affect the safety of the system in any way did occur. “In what way was this different than the expected behavior of the system?” 8. This is also the first place we can apply the Q.

Often the best ways to come up with good guesses is to get experts in each related area of expertise together to discuss the problem from all sides.Investigation directions.e. and we will begin by casting as wide a net as possible.g. The greater the amount of each – the better. However. This step of identifying the problem is essential to the success of all of the steps that follow. Other things to consider during this fact-finding stage are whether there are other locations that have similar symptoms with which we have dwelt in the past. critical thinking skills. days. It requires detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the systems involved (e. This evidence will be used to help us make the second major decision in the investigation. and decide if they’re reasonable. and operating departments must work together with power generation. We need to ask the question: “What might be the cause of the problem?”. weeks. in order to learn what information may be available. Usually.e. Only by accurately identifying the nature of the symptoms can we begin to reduce this troubleshooting problem to a manageable size. the precise nature of the unusual behavior of the system. We simply need to begin with a clear definition of the anomaly. and any measurements taken at the time of the event (or later) must all be collected for analysis. If all parties are willing to teach the others about their respective worlds. hours. The difficulty lies in making intelligent guesses. At this point we are still not concerned with the causes. 9-11 . eyewitness accounts. i. railroad and power systems). it is seldom given the respect and time that it deserves. For now. focus only on the symptoms. Sometimes we may come up with several competing hypotheses which each must be tested. the mistakes result from not considering enough possible causes of the symptoms. and imagination. in a system that may extend for hundreds or thousands of miles in several directions. they get added to the list of hypotheses to be tested. Q. This is done in order to focus our investigation into a limited number of directions.E.: “What type of deviation from normal system behavior was observed?”. Anyone can guess at the cause of a problem. If this sounds excessive. Did we review trouble reports of the railway and power company for this area and what information can we glean from them? We can take some preliminary rail-to-rail and rail-to-ground voltage measurements as described in the first part of Chapter 8 and Chapter 10. If they are. In railroad signal troubleshooting. transmission. System data recorder reports. carefully examine the guesses we come up with. this is often a key point at which serious mistakes are made. Sometimes these benefits appear in the form of good guesses as to the cause of the problem. and distri