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Bombardier’s MITRAC: creating a legacy system for energy conservation

While Bombardier Transportation’s railway propulsion systems have been in use globally for more than a century, its latest MITRAC portfolio was redeveloped with the aim of helping railways to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

Bombardier’s MITRAC: creating a legacy system for energy conservation

It’s no secret that the railway industry has been increasingly prioritising sustainability. As it stands, around 0.3% of global CO2 emissions come from railways, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) making it the most energy-efficient mode of transport compared to air and road. Still, railway engineering companies are continually developing technologies to make the industry more environmentally friendly.

One such company is rail equipment firm Bombardier Transportation, which has a track record of providing the railway industry with propulsion systems since 1891. Its first traction converters with power semiconductors were introduced in the 1970s and they have continuously evolved since then.

Specifically, the company’s MITRAC propulsion system – launched in the mid-1990’s – was developed to help the railway industry increase energy efficiency as well as reduce lifecycle costs. The MITRAC system is designed to help repurpose braking energy expended by trains so it can be used during acceleration or autonomous operation of the vehicle.

“The MITRAC system stands for Modular Integrated Traction System and was originally launched to cover control electronics, traction converters and drives,” says Bombardier Transportation head of external communications and public affairs Eric Prud’Homme.

How does the propulsion system work?

Deemed as the “heart, muscles and brain of the train” by the company, the MITRAC propulsion system witnessed an upgrade with respect to its technology in June 2019. The new line of Bombardier’s MITRAC products consists of three segments.

Products in the MITRAC Power portfolio include pantograph and shoe gears for power pickup, high voltage equipment, traction and auxiliary converters, drives, overall braking system and propulsion control.
“The water-cooled traction converters are made to deliver higher traction power.”

Its new generation of converters come in two varieties – air-cooled and water-cooled traction converters – and are distinguished in terms of distributed propulsion systems. As Prud’Homme explains, the air-cooled traction converters are ideally suited for decentralised propulsion systems for trains with distributed propulsion such as trams, automated people movers, metros, regional and intercity trains.

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