Pantograph Monitoring using Wireless Sensors

Pantograph Monitoring System used by Sydney Trains

This Pantograph Monitoring using Wireless Sensors application note was originally written by Sydney Trains and provided to LORD MicroStrain. To view the original pdf, click here.


To develop an experimental system.  Used for monitoring train pantographs and overhead wire infrastructure in the Sydney Train network.

Firstly, the experimental system was developed by Sydney Trains Rolling Stock and Mechanical Design team.  They had previously used Microstrain’s wireless products for other applications.  They identified that the wireless models were the safest option (since they were dealing with high voltage train components).  Also, the products were ideal for capturing sensor data from the Pantograph.

Secondly, the Experimental Monitoring System was designed to capture the following:

  1. Dynamic wire heights across the network under the uplift force of the pantograph
  2. Acceleration levels in the pantograph head due to interaction with the OHW and the impacts against other supporting infrastructure
  3. Video footage of the measured pantograph under the Overhead Wires (OHW)
  4. GPS data with train speed and geospatial coordinates

LORD MicroStrain Instrumentation used:

  • Wireless Triaxial Accelerometer (G-LINK)
  • Potentiometric Displacement Transducer (V-LINK)
  • Battery packs for wireless transmitters and solar panels for trickle charging
  • Wireless base station receivers with roof top antenna (WSDA-Base-101)
  • Video Camera with IR LED illumination for tunnels, overbridge, and night-time monitoring
  • GPS Mouse

How Pantograph Monitoring works:

  1. The Monitoring System mounted on the frame supporting the pantograph.  The pantograph is in contact with the overhead wires.  Energised at 1500 Volts.
Installation of Pantograph Monitoring System

The Advantage:

  1. Setup was completely wireless – therefore, improving the safety of the overall monitoring system.
  2. Complications avoided.  By isolating the high voltage train components from low voltage monitoring equipment
  3. This system led to successful trials which identified problem areas on the Sydney Trains Network.
Highlights a problem on the network through Pantograph Monitoring

Metromatics sells and supports the LORDS MicroStrain Wireless Product range in Australia and New Zealand.  For more information on the products used, please contact us.