Process and control today | Innovation in traction power control with Tracklink RTU

Automation equipment from Mitsubishi Electric is helping London Euston station future-proof its traction energy infrastructure as part of the High Speed ​​Two (HS2) rail line project. A remote telemetry solution for a new substation built around a high performance iQ-R series PLC fitted with a C Controller module was developed jointly with system integrator Sella Controls. This will provide next-level flexibility and interconnectivity for traction power in the station, helping to ensure smooth operation.

As part of the HS2 project, Euston station will be extended to include 11 new 400m long platforms for high speed trains. This will double the number of seats outside the station at peak times and improve connections between London, the Midlands and the North. Meeting the existing and new electrification needs of this significantly expanded terminal is a top priority for modernizing the rail system.

At the heart of efficient operations is a robust and reliable control system for the distribution of traction power in substations. A central element of this structure is the PLC-based Remote Terminal Unit (RTU), which interfaces the field equipment to the control room. It receives signals from field devices and acts on the information provided immediately while transmitting data to SCADA systems for centralized control activities. In large infrastructures, such as Euston station, a master RTU can be used to connect to remote I/O panels placed in local substations. This is essential, as the main controller must perform the automatic reconfiguration procedures in the event of loss of power to the station.

Jay Sampat, Project Manager at Sella Controls, adds: “Generally, an RTU is a single panel deployment in a substation. However, depending on the structure of the railway terminal and its substations, some inputs/outputs may be remote, which makes inter-substation communications particularly difficult. This is the case of the Euston terminus, which consisted of three substations, namely Euston Concourse, Euston East and Euston West.

In order to improve system capacity, the main RTU needed to be upgraded and moved to a new substation near Barnby Street. This was done to provide additional space for newer HS2 platforms. Mitsubishi Electric and its automation systems integrator partner for railway projects, Sella Controls, were asked to supply the required control system.

On the right path of communication

The two companies have worked together for over ten years to provide cutting-edge solutions to the UK traction power market. An example of this collaboration is the Tracklink® traction power RTU, which offers a high level of interconnectivity. Although Mitsubishi Electric and Sella Controls are one of two suppliers certified to supply RTU equipment to the UK rail sector, only the capabilities of the Tracklink RTU were suitable for this specific application at Euston Station.

To effectively control the traction power in this project, the automation specialists needed to implement an RTU capable of supporting different communication protocols and technologies. This meant that the configuration would be able to meet future needs while offering backwards compatibility with any existing equipment.

To begin with, the unit needed to communicate with the electrical control room via Distributed Network Protocol 3 (DNP3). It is a well-established protocol in the power industry, as it supports key management tasks, such as remote power switching mechanisms. David Bean, Solution Group Manager for Mitsubishi Electric, explains: “To meet this requirement, our control system uses Mitsubishi Electric’s iQ-R series modular PLC which integrates a C controller module hosting a DNP3 level 2 communications to share data with the control room SCADA.

To achieve reliable, high-speed inter-substation data transfers, Mitsubishi Electric and Sella Controls leveraged the iQ-R API’s compliance with CC-Link IE Open Gigabit Industrial Ethernet technology. John Browett, Managing Director of CC-Link Partner Association Europe, comments: “CC-Link IE offers deterministic gigabit bandwidth and is therefore ideal for time-critical control applications. By minimizing latency and jitter, any disruption can be avoided. As the use of remote I/O is not common, this is the first RTU capable of providing inter-substation connectivity. It’s exciting to see our networking technology used in such a unique project.

Additionally, it was necessary for the master controller to be able to receive analog information from the field meters via serial communications. Jay Sampat comments: “Generally, communications in the field are done over IP, ie Ethernet. Our Tracklink RTU was developed to meet this need, however, at Euston some of the infrastructure uses legacy solutions. In such cases, the controller can be equipped with an appropriate serial module to ensure compatibility.

Power effective control systems

Mitsubishi Electric and Sella Controls also integrated a GOT 2000 HMI into the master RTU panel. This maximizes the accessibility of the traction power control system and the availability of local information on the panel. With it, operators can monitor, manage and isolate power to the station and electrified sections of the station. It also allows operators to interact with the system remotely.

Since the completion of this upgrade project, the new telemetry solution has helped ensure a highly reliable traction power infrastructure at Euston Station. Chris Elliott, Rail Business Development Manager at Sella Controls, said: “We are very pleased with the results of this project. We have a strong, long-standing relationship with Mitsubishi Electric and look forward to implementing even more state-of-the-art control systems across the country in the near future. »

David Bean concludes: “While we have supplied Tracklink RTUs to many locations, this application has been of particular interest. Indeed, we were able to support the ambitious HS2 project and at the same time create an innovative configuration for the use of remote I/O. I look forward to delivering more automated solutions to help improve and future-proof the rail network.

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