Influence of the Aerodynamic Forces on the Pantograph-Catenary System for High Speed Trains

Joao Pombo, J. Ambrosio, M. Pereira, F. Rauter, A. Collina, A. Facchinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


Most of the high-speed trains in operation today have the electrical power supply delivered through the pantograph-catenary system. The understanding of the dynamics of this system is fundamental since it contributes to decrease the number of incidents related to these components, to reduce the maintenance and to improve interoperability. From the mechanical point of view, the most important feature of the pantograph-catenary system consists in the quality of the contact between the contact wire of the catenary and the contact strips of the pantograph. The catenary is represented by a finite element model, whereas the pantograph is described by a detailed multibody model, analysed through two independent codes in a co-simulation environment. A computational procedure ensuring the efficient communication between the multibody and finite element codes, through shared computer memory, and suitable contact force models were developed. The models presented here are contributions for the identification of the dynamic behaviour of the pantograph and of the interaction phenomena in the pantograph-catenary system of high-speed trains due to the action of aerodynamics forces. The wind forces are applied on the catenary by distributing them on the finite element mesh. Since the multibody formulation does not include explicitly the geometric information of the bodies, the wind field forces are applied to each body of the pantograph as time-dependent nonlinear external forces. These wind forces can be characterised either by using computational fluid dynamics or experimental testing in a wind tunnel. The proposed methodologies are demonstrated by the application to real operation scenarios for high-speed trains, with the purpose of defining service limitations based on train and wind speed combination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1327-1347
Number of pages21
JournalVehicle System Dynamics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


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