Engineers developing systems for train operating companies always have to have safety and reliability at the the top of their design goals. This is particularly true for designers of the driver display and control systems for the increasingly complex trains running on networks around the world.

In an effort to save costs operators are providing longer trains, often with multiple engines.  By controlling slave engines from one master console companies can support higher passenger numbers or freight payloads with their existing levels of staffing. The reliability of the driver control systems now becomes even more important, and redundant, fails-safe power systems are often required, especially when any fault in the system forces an emergency stop.

As train systems become more complex monitoring the performance of the various sub-systems becomes more important.  Modern driver monitoring consoles employ large visible displays and sophisticated communication and control systems, making it easier for drivers to track important data on board the train. Remote monitoring of the power supplies developed for the systems greatly reduces the requirement for routine maintenance.

Power systems on trains are frequently subject to transients, surges and brown-outs.  The wide input voltage range of up to 5:1 and power sharing ability of the Vicor DCM DC-DC Converters are an ideal solution for providing redundant on-board power supplies.  In addition, the wide input voltage of the DCM reduces the requirement for input transient protection, and the high operating frequency and Zero Voltage Switching topology reduces the size of the input EMI filter required.  The inherent output power sharing across multiple similar DCM converters in an array facilitates the development of redundant power systems.

Space on board is always at a premium and the low profile (7mm) and high power density of the DCM converters help reduce the control unit size and simplify the installation of the display and control system in the cabin.  The high efficiency and double-sided cooling of the DCM simplify heat management while reducing heat sink size.

The Vicor team worked recently with a customer designing a new driver display and control system.  Calling on Vicor’s 25 years’ experience supporting rail applications the team was able to suggest the solution shown above, which saved them significant space compared to their previous design.  Although this design is not redundant, it provides the company with an easy-to-achieve upgrade path for a fully redundant system in the future.