Electric Rail Switch Heating

The Oberstdorf – Sonthofen Rail Line

Hot Iron

In winter, it isn’t only living spaces that need to be supplied with heat, but also the switches on the German rail network. If these freeze, then things can become more than a little uncomfortable. The solution: electric switch heaters. Deutsche Bahn AG commissioned Backes + Scholz to install these in one of the snowiest regions in Germany: along the route between Oberstdorf and Sonthofen. We were happy to accept the project because, when it comes to heating switches, no one can outsmart us!

Smooth Passage

The scope of this project was enormous. In addition to the construction of 4 new electric switch heating systems with concrete switch housings (including all civil engineering work), the aim was to equip 32 switches with electrical switch heating. This involved design planning, implementation planning, cable pull, the assembly of the system components (AVT; BSH; transformer; NSV), construction of the control system and much more. We installed approximately 35km of high-voltage cables and 240 heating elements with a total connected power of 230kW.

Extreme Temperatures

“After gas heating was no longer an option for various reasons, the railway turned to geothermal energy – until it discovered that the heating output was not sufficient enough to heat the switches. In winter, the temperatures tend to range from -20 to -25 degrees Celsius in Oberstdorf, and there is often up to 1.5m of snow. The solution was an electric switch heating system. One of the initial challenges was getting the track electrified. Then, the switches had to be doubly equipped because of the extreme cold. The rails now reach temperatures of up to 80°C. In fact, the heating output is so great that the heating elements would burn out in a relatively short space of time if they were not able to transfer their heat to the rail.”

Johannes Leister, Project Leader

Backes + Scholz = Electrical Engineering to Perfection

We are proud to showcase this project, not only because of its precise and punctual execution but also for its flawless operation, which shows why Backes + Scholz is a market leader in the electrical engineering sector. Our customers know that Backes + Scholz can always be relied upon.

The Challenge

Installation of railway switch heatings in extreme conditions.

The Solution

Decades of experience and complex workflows.

Further references

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