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Trend of Design of Electric Locomotives

Nature volume 141, page 1134 (25 June 1938) | Download Citation



THE paper on the trend of the design of electric locomotives during the last ten years, read to the Institution of Electrical Engineers by C. E. Fairburn, the electrical engineer to the L.M.S. railway, is a valuable contribution to electric traction. He shows clearly that there is a growing demand for locomotives of greater power and speed. This is due partly to the necessity of improving running schedules with heavier trains and of avoiding the higher cost of multiple operation. Fairly complete data are given of ten electric railways in eight different countries and from twelve manufacturing companies. To analyse them is difficult because the outlook and methods vary not only from country to country but also from railway to railway in the same country. In Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden low-frequency alternating current is employed ; in Belgium, Italy and Poland, 3,000 volts direct current ; France, Holland, Japan and much of the British Empire, use 1,500 volts direct current. Three-phase systems seem to be making little progress. In Germany, the express locomotive of the German State Railways is of 4,150 horse-power. Recent Swiss locomotives have 8,630 horse-power and the articulated express locomotives of the Pennsylvania Railroad can supply 9,500 horse-power for a short period. General experience with high-power locomotives, in particular on the Pennsylvania Railroad, shows that even larger horse-powers are desirable, especially on lines carrying heavy traffic. It is definitely stated that the advantages of electric braking on long gradients lie more in the reduction of wear in the mechanical parts than in the value of the energy returned to the supply system. With high speeds it is advisable to retain mechanical brakes for emergency operation as this makes higher speeds possible with safety.

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