Bombardier Presents First Catenary-Free and Contactless Operating Tram

BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE catenary-free operation, as part of the innovative ECO4 portfolio, improves city infrastructures

Bombardier Transportation today introduced the first completely contactless and catenary-free operating tram. The BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE catenary-free operation was presented to journalists on the test track at Bombardier’s Bautzen site in Germany.

“The PRIMOVE technology is a unique system that provides complete catenary-free operation of trams over distances of varying lengths and in all surroundings,” said
Dr Carsten Struve, Director Advanced Technology Development Bombardier Transportation at the system’s presentation. “The catenary-free operation offers an entirely new prospect, particularly for trams operating in historic city centres where impressive cityscapes can now exist unencumbered by visual pollution from overhead lines. Combined with the new BOMBARDIER MITRAC Energy Saver technology, the PRIMOVE system can also save additional energy.”

Benefit to Rail Operators

For rail operators, the PRIMOVE system offers significant advantages. Among these are the completely invisible power supply, the easy installation and the complete irrelevance of weather conditions. In addition, the contactless and very safe energy transfer system reduces wear on parts, limiting equipment lifecycle costs. Thanks to the PRIMOVE system, infrastructure costs related to tunnel sections can also be reduced significantly. The system does not need ‘third rail’ or high roof systems, resulting in smaller tunnel profiles. The system’s electrical drive operates with lower noise levels and eliminates emissions. The integrated MITRAC Energy Saver results in significant operating cost reductions by recharging energy.

PRIMOVE technology is one of the highlights of the innovative BOMBARDIER ECO4 portfolio of technologies launched by the global rail leader last year. The new portfolio offers energy and cost-efficient solutions for total train performance through ten ready-to-use ECO4 products that are based on the four principles of energy, efficiency, economy and ecology.

The innovative principle of the PRIMOVE system is rooted in the principle of inductive power transfer, a technology used in cleanrooms in the computer chip and automotive industries. With Bombardier’s introduction of PRIMOVE, inductive power transfer comes to rail vehicles for the first time.

How the PRIMOVE technology works

The electric power components of the PRIMOVE technology are hidden under the vehicle and beneath the tracks. The electrical primary and secondary circuits are separated from each other, a principle also used in transformers. Creating a magnet field, the primary circuit is built into the infrastructure. The secondary circuit in the vehicle transforms this energy field into electricity for the tram’s operation. The cable of the primary circuit can be easily integrated in-between the tracks. The vehicle is equipped with pick-up coils underneath the vehicle, which are connected to the tram’s traction system through a cable. In addition, connected segments in the ground ensure a safe operation as they are only fully energised when completely covered by the vehicle. Therefore, the system can also be integrated in pedestrian zones, for example.

Efficiency with MITRAC Energy Saver

An additional benefit of the system is the integration of the MITRAC Energy Saver, which is mounted on the roof of a light rail vehicle: The innovative capacitors of the system store the energy released each time a vehicle brakes and re-use it during acceleration or operation. Applied to light rail vehicles, the system has (during testing in Mannheim since 2003) been proven to save up to 30 per cent of energy, thus reducing emissions as well as costs. The technology can also be used as a performance booster by adding extra power to the vehicle during acceleration. Behind the system is a double layer capacitor technology (also known as “ultracapacitors”), a smartly designed storage device charged with the eletrical energy set free when the brakes are used. The capacitors’ storage cells are charged with energy which is transformed during the breaking process. 

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About Bombardier Transportation
Bombardier Transportation has its global headquarters in Berlin, Germany with a presence in over 60 countries. It has an installed base of over 100,000 vehicles worldwide. The Group offers the broadest product portfolio and is recognized as the leader in the global rail sector.

About Bombardier
A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2008, were $17.5 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at

BOMBARDIER, PRIMOVE, ECO4 and MITRAC are trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries.

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