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Global, June 2024

To help railway engineers maintain their catenary system - the circulatory system that keeps everything moving - Hottinger Brüel & Kjær (HBK) has created its Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) Pantograph Measurement System.

Monitoring forces and accelerations under high voltage in a train’s pantograph structure is vital, as it reduces the risk of damage to the catenary of railway networks. The correct contact between the pantograph and the overhead line is mandatory for efficient train operation; electric trains establish connection to the catenary via their pantographs.

Within this high voltage environment, HBK’s FBG pantograph measurement system provides safe, continuous measurements via its fiber optic and issues instant alerts if a critical condition is detected, which can prevent unexpected delays or system shutdown.

The optical sensor is ideal for this task, as the main requirement for overhead line and pantograph monitoring are accurate measurements within a high-voltage level (15 – 25 kV). The optical sensor is a passive element, so its measurement principle is based on light and no active excitation of the sensors is required, which means there’s no interferences with other operations during measurement.

The FBG system also ensures compliance with EN 50317 legal standard for measuring the pantograph contact line interaction, which operators must meet to ensure minimal losses, limited wear and tear, as well as a reduced risk of disruption during the current transmission to the power unit of the vehicle.

More information about HBK’s FBG pantograph measurement system is available on the company’s website: Railway: Pantograph and Overhead Line Monitoring | HBM

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About HBK – Hottinger Brüel & Kjær

Hottinger Brüel & Kjær (HBK)’s testing and measurement solutions give engineers around the world the accurate, up-to-date data they need to bring higher-quality products to market faster.

HBK bridges the physical and virtual worlds with robust, flexible hardware and precise, powerful analytics software. Giving design, test, and measurement engineers complete confidence in every reading and every data-driven decision – across the entire product development lifecycle.

Backed by decades of experience and deep expertise, HBK’s sensors and software transform testing and measurement in a huge range of use cases, from building more aerodynamic aircraft to testing the safety of automotive vehicles, and monitoring assets throughout their production cycle.


HBK empower the innovators by providing exceptional sensing and insights to help create solutions for a cleaner, healthier and more productive world.


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