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Saft batteries provide backup power for French railways

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 17:11 -- Ruth Williams

2-10bSNCF, France’s national railway operator, now relies on Saft batteries for mission-critical backup power at its centralised substation control centre in Bordeaux. 

The SNCF substation control centre, based in Bordeaux’s railway station, plays a key role in the smooth running of France’s railway network in the southwest region. It controls the operation of 58 main substations and 66 auxiliary substations that provide power to around 1 800 kilometers of track. 

The batteries ensure the continuous operation of systems that control the delivery of high voltage trackside power to SNCF’s entire network in southwest France. The new generation nickel-based batteries feature a specialised, high recombination maintenance-free design that made it possible for them to be installed in the historic Belle Époque station building, with no need for modification for ventilation.

The Saft batteries specified by SNCF were developed as the direct replacement for VRLA (valve regulated lead acid) batteries in this type of application. Their modular format, which weighs 30% less than an equivalent conventional battery, made them fast and simple to install, says the Paris?based firm.

The control centre must remain in operation at all times, so it is provided with an emergency power supply that takes up the load automatically if the mains power supply is interrupted and ensures up to eight hours of autonomy. 

Hervé Dupuy, SNCF UP MRE technical manager responsible for maintenance and electrical services, said: “The new battery system was only commissioned in early 2012 yet it has already been called into action during a maintenance exercise when both the main power supplies had to be taken offline. I am pleased to report that it worked perfectly!”