To the top with Rigi Mountain Railways and energy-efficient rail technologies from ABB

Copyright Rigi Bahnen
Copyright Rigi Bahnen
  • ABB traction converters for the new rack and pinion trains
  • ABB technology improves energy efficiency and reliability of rail operations

Some 150 years after the inauguration of Europe’s first cogwheel mountain railroad from Vitznau on Lake Lucerne to Rigi Staffelhöhe, the Rigi Bahnen fleet is being rejuvenated with modern rack and pinion trains. On April 8, 2022, Rigi Bahnen will begin operating three of six new train compositions in its scheduled service following a successful test and trial phase, with the second set of trains following by June 2022. The new fleet is equipped with energy-efficient drive technology from ABB and contributes to more efficient and sustainable rail operations. During the descent, two-thirds of the energy required for the ascent is fed back into the grid. The drive components are developed and produced at the ABB site in Untersiggenthal in the Swiss canton of Aargau.

Jörg Lustenberger, Operational Manager for Rolling Stock Procurement at Rigi Bahnen comments: -The new generation of traction units with state-of-the-art drive technology enables more efficient operation and enhances comfort and the quality of the ride for our guests.-

-In 1937, Brown, Boveri & Cie. had the honor of supplying the electrical equipment for the first electrically motorized train cars,- says Robert Itschner, Country Managing Director ABB Switzerland. -We are very pleased that ABB drive solutions will also be featured in the latest generation of vehicles, and we are proud to support Rigi Bahnen as it continues to ensure reliable and even more efficient rail operations.-

ABB-s energy-efficient traction converters enable Stadler’s new trains to feed the electrical energy generated during braking back into the grid on the descent and make it usable for uphill trains. During braking, the motors serve as generators that convert the kinetic energy into electricity, which flows back into the overhead line via traction converters instead of converting the braking energy into waste heat. The descent is guaranteed even in the event of an interruption in the overhead line thanks to the conversion of braking energy into electrical energy for the emergency power supply on the vehicle. Braking resistors are also available as a fallback level.

The custom-designed, robust ABB traction converter solution with integrated on-board power supply and battery charger is compactly housed in a single enclosure and ensures easy access for maintenance. Two traction converters are installed on the roof of each train unit. They convert the electrical energy from the overhead line into the voltage and frequency required to drive the traction motors. They also provide the necessary electrical energy for auxiliary consumers such as heating, lighting and customer information systems on the vehicle.

The icebreaker function ensures reliable passenger operation even when there is ice build-up on overhead lines. The traction converter uses sophisticated software that detects icing on overhead lines and generates electrical voltage pulses to break through any ice on the line and ensure uninterrupted current flow.

Rigi is a popular destination for Swiss citizens and international guests. The nearly 7-kilometer-long route between Vitznau and the Rigi Kulm station offers breathtaking views in the heart of Central Switzerland. The rack railway covers 1,300 meters in altitude with a maximum gradient of 25 percent and offers an impressive railroad experience.

ABB supplies a wide range of innovative and custom-designed drive solutions to meet the myriad requirements posed by various rail vehicle concepts. ABB technologies tailored to customer needs are also in reliable use in the meter-gauge and cogwheel railways of Appenzeller Bahnen, Berner Oberland Bahn, Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, Rhätische Bahnen and Zentralbahn.

(ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB-s success is driven by about 105,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.