Supporting South Africa’s new trains

Saft onboard battery systems are helping to ensure the smooth and reliable operation of South Africa’s Gautrain rapid rail network. The Gautrain is a new 80 km link that will serve Gauteng Province, providing a safe, efficient and reliable service to both commuters and airport travellers in the Johannesburg area.

Phase one of the Gautrain – a 20 km link between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport – has just started service with five Electrostar four-car EMU (electrical multiple unit) trainsets supplied by Bombardier Transportation and derived from a UK design. The remaining 60 km of the network is scheduled to open in 2011, completing the Johannesburg to Pretoria Route.

The Saft battery systems provide reliable onboard backup power to support emergency lighting, air conditioning, door operation and communication systems for the Gautrain vehicles in the event of an interruption to the main power supply. Two 110 V battery systems, each comprising 74 of Saft’s specialized nickel-based MATRICS MRX80 cells, with a nominal capacity of 80 Ah, are installed below the floor of each trainset.

Bombardier Transportation in the UK has manufactured a total of 24 four-car Gautrain trainsets – five for the airport link and 19 for the second phase. The first three trainsets were completed by Bombardier at its Derby facility, while the remainder have been assembled locally in South Africa from kits supplied from the UK. Saft has supplied a total of 48 Gautrain battery systems to Bombardier Transportation as turnkey, installation-ready, packages, assembled in rafts complete with control equipment and interfaces to communicate with the train systems.


MRX specialised rail batteries
Saft MATRICS MRX batteries are the ideal choice for this type of rapid transit application as they have been purpose-designed to deliver maximum performance, reliability and low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). They provide the low maintenance and long service life benefits of sintered/PBE technology within a slim, light-weight block battery package that shows a major size and volume advantage compared with conventional batteries. The MATRICS MRX design is extremely reliable and does not suffer from the ‘sudden death’ which can affect some batteries, even in extreme temperatures ranging from -30° to +70°C.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
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