Technical review of traction drive systems for light railways

Nursaid Polater, Pietro Tricoli

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Due to environmental concerns, governments around the world are taking measures to decarbonise railway transport by replacing diesel traction systems with cleaner alternatives. While the electrification of railway systems is spreading rapidly, it is unlikely that all routes will be electrified as the volume of passengers will not justify the high infrastructure costs. Therefore, it is expected that, for several lines, a combination of hydrogen and electric traction will be used, with the latter partly provided by fixed infrastructure and partly by batteries. Railway traction drives will then need to change to accommodate these new types of power supply. A detailed review of the available traction motors and drives is provided with this review, given application to the new hybrid-electric systems. In particular, permanent magnet synchronous motors with multiphase windings are evaluated in comparison with traditional three-phase machines. Additionally, low and medium-voltage multisource power converters have been reviewed, taking into account the introduction of wide band-gap semiconductor devices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3187
Number of pages26
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2022


  • fuel cell propulsion
  • power converter
  • traction drive systems
  • traction motors
  • wide band-gap devices


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