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How do electric trains work? A journey from Mumbai to New Delhi

A train is a form of transport consisting of a series of connected vehicles that generally runs along a railroad track to transport cargo or passengers.
It represented a turning point in history that changed world forever. Without trains and railroads the world would be an altogether different place.

These marvellous machines estructured the social, physical, and economic foundations of many Nations. Cities began to organize around newly constructed stations that became icons in themselves, like some sort of sanctuaries representing the pleasures of travel.

In this video we will explain the working principle of electric train through the travel made by the JAES CEO, who will leave the city of Mumbai to reach New Delhi.

With over 200 years of innovation and improvement, train industry managed to grow from its simple Steam Trains, through Diesel Trains, Electric Trains, up to modern High-Speed Trains and Maglev Trains.

The first indian electric train made, was introduced on February 3th in 1925, right at the Mumbai station.
Indian Railways is the fourth largest railway network in the world by size. With a route length of 41,861 miles it carries over 23 million passengers everyday.

The JAES CEO is at the central station of Mumbai. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of the most iconic terminal train station and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, the CEO gets on a train with electric locomotive.

Electric trains unlike steam trains or diesel trains do not carry fuel or water on board, but instead they use electrical power as one of the most reliable sources of propulsion. A catenary system infact, is used to transmit electricity to the train. This electricity is produced hundreds of miles away from the railway and it is carried to the overhead line thanks to tranformers.
You can watch the video about the working principle of transformers by clicking the link at the top right corner of this video.

The electricity flowing through the overhead line is an Alternating Current and it usually has a voltage of 25 kilovolts.

When the train is ready to go, the pantographs, which are placed on the roof of the locomotive, are pushed up with the help of air pressure. The head is the only part of the pantograph to touch the wire pick-up. The current is collected via metalized carbon strips on the head, plus, the zigzag configuration of the overhead contact wire ensures a symmetrical wear of the head surface.

The voltage collected from the overhead wire passing through the transformer completes the circuit on the rails, using brushes on the axis of the wheels.

Transformers and rectifiers inside the locomotive are used to mofified the parameters of the electrical power taken from the overhead line, so that the on-board inverters can generate a three-phase alternating current in order to transfer the power to the wheels and obtain the right traction power to move the train.

Furthermore the auxiliary inverters supply the necessary current to power the on-board equipment and instruments like:
- Cooling fans, necessary for lower the temperature of transformers and motors,
- Accumulators which need to be constantly charged in order to sustained the start-up phase and power the basic electronic system even in the absence of a power supply.
- Compressors, which are very important devices, useful to provide compressed air.
Compressed air is an essential element that powers many of the most vital functions of a train.
Without compressed air in fact, a train would be unable to raise or lower its pantographs, open and close its doors properly or even engage the sandbox, which is a container filled with sand usually placed in front of the driving wheels of the locomotive in order to drop the sand on the rail in wet and slippery conditions and on steep grades to improve traction.

Even the brakes operates through air pressure. Basically, train brakes are always on. For this reason, a brake pipe delivers pressure to the brakes, putting them in the “Running” position and letting the train move. On the contrary, if the brake pipe stops delivering pressure, the brakes will be in the “Release” position and the train will simply stops.

Each wagon is provided with a brake. All the brakes work simultaneously. In this way, if there were any leaks in the compressed air system, the brakes, not having the required pressure, will simply stop the train, preventing accidents.

The extensive network of Indian railways passes through dense forests which represent a natural habitat for many species of wild animals in India. But the rise of the speed of the trains and the consequent risk of train accidents is putting these beautiful areas in danger. India has been involved in train accident prevention programs for many years now, with the aim of protecting the wildlife of these natural reserves, which are considered national treasures.

The Bogie of the train is a chassis or framework that carries the running gear, the supporting structure connected to it, and the traction motors, usually 3-Phase AC motors.
You can watch the video about the working principle of 3-phase motors by clicking the link at the top right corner of this video.

In an electric train the engines are located in the bogies of the locomotive. A locomotive can have many bogies and so, it can be more or less powerful. Each train car is equipped with two bogies. This allows a quick disconnection of the train cars in any station as well as a more simple maintenance work during a train breakdown.

Unlike traditional electric trains, the engines of high-speed trains are distributed on each bogie differently. Also they have different type of Bogies called Jacobs bogies.
Jacobs bogies are not to be found underneath a piece of rolling stock, but they are placed between two carbody sections. The weight of each car is spread between the Jacobs bogie. This arrangement provides the smooth ride of bogie carriages without the additional weight and drag.
Despite their safety features, lower weight, and simpler and cheaper construction, with Jacob Bogies the vehicles are semi-permanently coupled, so, they can only be separated in the workshop.

10 years in the industrial supplies sector, have led JAES to become a qualify partner for some of the most important railway companies, providing its technical support over a wide range of industrial components, necessary during the production process of these incredible machines.

Indian Railways is exploring the possibility of super-speed, also called ultra-high-speed, rail network in India. The future standard is represented by high-speed trains, which will be always powered with a 25 kiloVolts AC railway electrification system. These types of trains will be way more efficient than the actual electric trains.

After this long journey, the JAES CEO finally arrives in the beautiful city of New Delhi, which over the last few years becomes a dynamic mash-up of past and future and a crossroads of tradition and innovation.