Modelling dynamic pantograph loads with combined numerical analysis

Frankie Jackson, Rakesh Mishra, Jose Batista Rebelo, Jose Santos, P Antunes, Joao Pombo, Hugo Pacheco Magalhaes, Luke Wills, Matthew Askill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Appropriate interaction between pantograph and catenary is imperative for smooth operation of electric trains. Changing heights of overhead lines to accommodate level crossings, overbridges, and tunnels pose significant challenges in maintaining consistent current collection performance as the pantograph aerodynamic profile, and thus aerodynamic load changes significantly with operational height. This research aims to analyse the global flow characteristics and aerodynamic forces acting on individual components of an HSX pantograph operating in different configurations and orientations, such that the results can be combined with multibody simulations to obtain accurate dynamic insight into contact forces. Specifically, computational fluid dynamics simulations are used to investigate the pantograph component loads in a representative setting, such as that of the recessed cavity on a Class 800 train. From an aerodynamic perspective, this study indicates that the total drag force acting on non-fixed components of the pantograph is larger for the knuckle-leading orientation rather than the knuckle-trailing, although the difference between the two is found to reduce with increasing pantograph extension. Combining the aerodynamic loads acting on individual components with multibody tools allows for realistic dynamic insight into the pantograph behaviour. The results obtained show how considering aerodynamic forces enhance the realism of the models, leading to behaviour of the pantograph–catenary contact forces closely matching that seen in experimental tests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-94
Number of pages14
JournalRailway Engineering Science
Early online date13 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Cite this