Saft MRX batteries boost reliability of Finland’s high speed Pendolino railway

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

In trial installations, the Saft nickel‐based batteries have proved their capability to deliver high performance, outstanding reliability and low maintenance requirements on two of VR’s Pendolino trains. The success of the trials has resulted in VR Group deciding to purchase an increased number of MRX batteries when replacing the original Pendolino batteries.

“We are committed to building an excellent reputation for reliability on Finland’s Pendolino services and changing to the Saft MRX batteries is set to play an important role in this process,” said Hannu Ryyppö, head of electric safety for rolling stock at VR Group. “We have had excellent service from previous generations of Saft batteries on our older rolling stock, where they continue to provide reliable operation, even after 20 years. The new design MRX batteries have proved their capability in two trial installations, where we have been impressed by both their reliability and low water consumption. That’s why we have selected Saft’s MRX as the standard choice for all our Pendolino battery replacement projects for the next two years.”

VR Group is the state‐owned operator of Finland’s rail network. Its prestigious high speed passenger service is provided by the tilting Sm3 Pendolino trains that interconnect Finland’s major cities at speeds up to 220 km/h. The onboard batteries play a vital role in ensuring operational reliability and continuity by supplying backup power for critical safety and passenger comfort services such as emergency lighting, communications, door operation and heating and ventilation.

In order to improve the reliability of the Sm3 Pendolino trains, VR is carrying out a complete review of all the onboard equipment. This includes the existing batteries that were experiencing particular issues with premature failure in this heavy duty application, as well as requiring frequent maintenance such as regular topping up with water.

In 2009, VT decided to review alternative batteries for its Pendolino trains, targeting a service life of at least 15 years, and carried out a test installation of Saft’s MRX nickel-based batteries that are designed specifically to provide a compact and reliable high energy solution for demanding rail applications.

Three 96 V battery systems with a nominal capacity of 180 Ah – each comprising 80 MRX 180 batteries – N° 02-12 were installed below the floor of a six-car Sm3 Pendolino trainset. Following the success of the first installation throughout two years of operation in the harsh Finnish winter, where temperatures can drop below -30 degrees  C, MRX battery systems have now been installed on a second Sm3 trainset. Not only has the switch to MRX batteries reduced the need for VR to top up the batteries with water, when it is required, the operation is made fast and simple thanks to the MRX’s integrated water filling system.

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