Saft Tel.X Batteries Ensure Backup Power for Railway Signaling Systems

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaft is rolling out its Tel.X nickel technology batteries to provide backup power for critical railway crossing signal and barrier control systems in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. SŽDC and ŽSR national railway infrastructure managers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia – rely on their trackside battery systems to support the operation of hundreds of railway crossing systems, both to guarantee public safety and also to ensure the effective control of trains and other traffic. The Czech and Slovak railways carry 225 million passengers and 100 million tons of freight every year.

The orders follow the successful completion of extensive, long-term trials that have demonstrated the capability of the Tel.X design as a reliable, maintenance-free ‘drop-in’ replacement for VRLA (valve regulated lead acid batteries) in existing trackside cabinets. If the main power supply should fail, the 24 V or 28.8 V batteries are required to deliver up to 8 hours of autonomous operation, supporting an 18 A load for barriers and 6 A for signals.

From 2000 onwards, the operators have been modernizing their railway corridors; this has included the introduction of a new crossing design concept with a slimline trackside cabinet based on VRLA batteries. The use of lead-acid batteries in conditions subjected to wide variation in temperatures required the use of air-conditioned cabinets. This has created issues with maintenance and operational costs, so in 2011 Saft was called in to carry out long-term trial installations to demonstrate the advantages of a switch to nickel technology batteries.

Saft’s rail team in the Czech Republic identified Tel.X batteries as the ideal choice as they have been designed for reliable, maintenance-free operation in remote locations across a wide range of operational temperatures from – 20°C to + 50°C and they can also tolerate -50°C to  70°C for short durations. This means that there is no longer any need for the cabinets to be air conditioned.

An added benefit is that Tel.X is designed to save both space – due to its high energy density (up to 100 Wh/l), and weight, a reduction of up to 30 percent in the same space. So it is able to fit easily within the limited space available within the existing cabinets. It is also fully compatible with the existing equipment without modifications.

A further major advantage of the Tel.X is that it offers predictable performance over a long service life, with no risk of ‘sudden-death’ failure like for VRLA batteries. In these particular railway signaling applications, Tel.X is expected to have a service life of more than 16 years without the need of air conditioning. In comparison, VRLA batteries will last for around 8 years with air conditioning.

The reduction in maintenance, operation and battery replacement costs achieved with Tel.X significantly improves the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Between 2012 and 2015, Saft has delivered around 300 sets of Tel.X batteries for railway signaling and crossing control installations in the Czech Republic and will soon deliver Slovakia with additional quantities.