Bombardier Transportation might have the solution to those unsightly overhead power lines running above light-rail lines in cities all over the world, so aesthetes can unite with joy. The company is working with Primove on so-called catenary-free networks. The latest development is that the collaborator have created a tram system that can run almost 42 kilometers, or about 25 miles, without overhead lines. Think of it as a marathon of sorts, but by rail.

The test run was made in Mannheim, Germany, about 50 miles south of Frankfurt. The companies have been working on energy-storage systems for the Mannheim on the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (RNV) network since 2009, installing them on about 30 trams. More recently, a catenary-free system has been used since last August in Nanjing, China, where that system's six trams operate over 90 percent of that city's light-rail network without overhead cables to charge the rail cars.

Bombardier and Primove get the trains charged from pantographs, at tram stops and during acceleration. The system uses nickel manganese cobalt lithium-ion cells, and its rapid recharging system is designed so that the batteries can last for as long as 10 years. Other developments by Primove include developing an inductive (also wireless) recharging system for electric vehicles, which was announced this past March. Earlier this year, Primove also announced a wireless system for electric buses in Berlin, so Germany appears to be a sweet spot. You can take a look at Primove's press release about the catenary-free network test below.
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PRIMOVE Battery Powered Tram Breaks Range Record

Bombardier Transportation has successfully completed a 41.6 km catenary-free test run using a PRIMOVE battery equipped tram. The achievement is another milestone in the development of PRIMOVE battery systems and once again proves the solution's suitability for regular use.

The test run was conducted in the German city of Mannheim on the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (RNV) network. During the trial, a Bombardier-built tram, powered entirely by its PRIMOVE battery in combination with BOMBARDIER MITRAC propulsion equipment, completed a trip of over 40 kilometres in catenary-free operation (CFO).

The first transport authority to do so, RNV began using energy storage systems in 2009 and has integrated this technology into 30 of their trams. This previous generation of SuperCaps energy storage provided sufficient energy for short CFO distances. However, the latest generation of Bombardier's PRIMOVE battery system has been specifically developed for use with CFO where greater distances need to be covered.

The PRIMOVE battery and MITRAC propulsion equipment combination has been in successful revenue service on the Hexi line in Nanjing, China since August 2014. These six trams, built by CSR Puzhen under Bombardier license, operate without overhead cables on 90 per cent of the lines. The batteries are charged seamlessly during passenger service via the pantograph, statically at tram stops, and dynamically during acceleration. On this demanding route the CFO propulsion system has proven its suitability for almost any line worldwide.

The innovative PRIMOVE battery system builds upon Bombardier's many years of experience with energy storage systems by combining high power capacity and exceptional battery life with high reliability. They have been designed to maximize performance by using the latest developments in nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) Li-Ion cells. The advanced PRIMOVE thermal conditioning unit maintains the battery's ideal temperature and enables rapid charging and full braking energy recovery while extending their lifetime to up to ten years.

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