- Research News
- Open Access
DC railways and the magnetic fields they produce—the geomagnetic context
Earth, Planets and Space volume 61, pagesi–xv(2009)
DC electric railways produce magnetic fields, not only from the intended traction currents, but also from unintended earth-leakage currents; these fields, particularly those from the leakage currents, are becoming an increasing problem for geomagneticians. This paper introduces the relevant properties of DC-railway traction-power circuits, and the various ways in which earth-leakage currents are produced, and discusses models of how these leakage currents vary along the track and with train position. It describes the geometry of the resultant magnetic fields, and gives the formal algebra for calculating the magnetic field when these leakage currents are known, but also suggests some simple approximations that could be used when the current distribution is not known in detail. This paper also summarises previous relevant papers.
Bravin, E., G. Brun, B. Dehning, A. Drees, P. Galbraith, M. Geitz, K. Henrichsen, M. Koratzinos, G Mugnai, and M. Tonutti, The influence of train leakage currents on the LEP dipole field, Nuc. Instrum. Methods Phys. Res., A417, 9–15, 1998.
Chadwick, P. and F. Lowes, Magnetic fields on British trains, Ann. Occup. Hyg., 42(5), 331–335, 1998.
Dupouy, G., Perturbation du champ magnétique terrestre et des courants tellurique par les chemins de fer électrifiés, Ann. Géophys., 6(1), 18–50, 1950.
Egbert, G. D., M. Eisel, O. S. Boyd, and H. F. Morrison, DC trains and Pc3s; Source effects in mid-latitude geomagnetic transfer functions, Geophys. Res. Lett., 27(1), 25–28, 2000.
European Standard, EN 50122-2:1998, Railway applications. Fixed installations. Protective provisions against the effects of stray currents caused by d.c. traction systems, 1998.
Forbriger, T., Reducing magnetic field induced noise in broad-band seismic recording, Geophys. J. Int., 169(1), 240–258, 2007.
Fraser-Smith, A. C., Effects of man on geomagnetic activity and pulsations, Adv. Space Res., 1, 455–466, 1981.
Fukushima, N., Generalized theorem for no ground magnetic effect of vertical currents connected with Pederson currents in the uniform conductivity ionosphere, Rep. Ionos. Space Res. Jpn., 30(1–2), 35–40, 1976.
Georgescu, P., J.-L. Le Mouel, and M. Mandea, Electric and magnetic perturbations generated by d.c. electric railway, Geofizica, Bucaresti, Romania, 40, 69–82, 2002.
Iliceto, V. and G. Santarato, On the interference of man-made EM fields in the magnetotelluric ‘dead band’, Geophys. Prospect., 47, 707–719, 1999.
Jones, F. W. and A. M. Kelly, Man-made telluric micropulsations, Can. J. Phys., 44, 3025–3031, 1966.
Kovalevskiy, I. V., N. V. Mikerina, V. V. Novysh, and O. P. Gorodnicheva, Distribution of the earth currents from an electrified railroad in the southern Urals, Geomagn. Aeron., 1(5), 723–726, 1961 (translated from the Russian pp. 825-).
Lee, C.-H. and H.-M. Wang, Effects of grounding schemes on rail potential and stray currents in Taipei rail transit systems, IEE Proc.-Electr. Power Appl., 148(2), 148–154, 2001.
Linington, R. E., The magnetic disturbances caused by DC electric railways, Prospezioni Archeologiche, 9, 9–20, 1974.
Lowes, F. J., Magnetic monitoring of DC electric railways, Phys. Technol., 18(5), 209–214, 1987a.
Lowes, F. J., Magnetic observations of earth-leakage currents from DC electric railways, Power Eng. J., 1(6), 333–337, 1987b.
Mikerina, N. V., The study of interference at the Voyeykovo magnetic observatory, Geomagn. Aeron., 2(6), 941–944, 1962.
Miuchkiurya, V. I., A compensator for magnetic interference created by electric trains, Geodiz. Apparatura, 27, 82–92, 1966 (in Russian, translation available from present author).
Pádua, M. B., A. Padilha, and Í. Vitorello, Disturbances on magnetotelluric data due to DC electrified railway: A case study from southeastern Brazil, Earth Planets Space, 54, 591–596, 2002.
Pirjola, R., L. Newitt, D. Boteler, L. Trichtchenko, P. Fernberg, L. McKee, D. Danskin, and G. Jansen van Beek, Modelling the disturbance caused by a dc-electrified railway to geomagnetic measurements, Earth Planets Space, 59, 943–949, 2007.
Railtrack, Railway Group Standard GL/RT1254, Electrified lines traction bonding, 2000.
Rössiger, M., Die Enstörung magnetischer Beobachtungsräume und erdmagnetischer Observatorien von Gleichstrom-Magnetfeldern der elektrischen Bahnen (Interference at magnetic observatories and earthmagnetic observatories of direct-current magnetic fields of electric trains), Die Naturwissenschaften, 30(50/51), 753–755, 1942.
Tanbo, T., H. Sakai, and T. Nagao, A study of geoelectric potential change caused by rail leak current observed at Ohtawa, Gifu, Japan, Elect. Eng. Jpn., 143(2), 1–10, 2003 (translated from Denki Gakkai Ronbunshi, 122-A(5), 446453, 2002).
Tokumoto, T. and S. Tsunomura, Calculation of magnetic field disturbance produced by electric railway, Memoirs of the Kakioka Magnetic Observatory, 20(2), 33–44, 1984 (in Japanese, with English figure captions). (English translation (no figure captions) available at www.kakiokajma.go.jp/publ/tr/2004/trs0005.pdf)
Wessel, P. and W. H. F. Smith, New, improved version of GenericMapping Tools released, EOS Trans. AGU, 79, 579, 1998.
Yanagihara, K., Magnetic field disturbance produced by electric railway, Memoirs of the Kakoka Magnetic Observatory, suppl. 7, reprinted in Geophys. Mag., 38(1), 17–35, 1977.
About this article
Cite this article
Lowes, F.J. DC railways and the magnetic fields they produce—the geomagnetic context. Earth Planet Sp 61, i–xv (2009). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03352944
- DC railways
- earth leakage
- geomagnetic field
- leakage current
- magnetic field
- magnetic observatory