Traction Power Modeling
Melbourne, Australia

At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • Public Transport Victoria (PTV)
  • Work Performed By
  • LTK Melbourne
  • Project Contact
  • Bill Lipfert, Vice President, Rail Operations Planning & Simulation
  • Project Description
  • Determine the capacity and durability of PTV's traction power system so they could add new trains
  • Project Duration
  • 2014-2015
  • Project Cost
  • $1.3 billion

The Challenge


A model-driven approach. 

As PTV’s demand for services grew, they needed a plan to introduce 110 new E-Class trams, and then cascade the older D-, C-, B-, and A-Class trams to other routes. Adding new trains to such an extensive system could over-tax the traction power delivery system, and PTV had identified 33 potential traction power upgrades that might have been required to accommodate the new trains.

PTV oversees the operation of an extensive metropolitan train and tram network, a regional train network and an extensive bus network – servicing Melbourne and regional Victoria. The metropolitan tram system, in particular, is considered to be the largest in the world, with 250km of double track across 24 routes, 1,679 stops, and a fleet of nearly 500 vehicles.

Just as impressive, the train network consists of 830 km of track encompassing 16 lines, 219 stations and a fleet of 206 six-car sets. From a traction power supply perspective, the tram network operates at a nominal 600Vdc and is supplied by 48 substations. The train network employs 109 substations to supply power at a nominal 1500Vdc. Contact, catenary, feeder and return wiring varies widely by location.

The Solutions


PTV selected LTK Australia to develop comprehensive operations and using its TrainOps® software, we analyzed and developed comprehensive operations and electrical simulation models of PTV’s extensive train and tram network. The models take into consideration the track configuration, track geometry, signals, station locations, speed limits, timetables, components of the traction power system, and characteristics of the rolling stock. PTV purchased licenses for these models to be used internally and by their franchisees operating these rail services.

Unlike other software applications, TrainOps captures the dynamic interaction of trams on the network, including multiple end-to-end berthing at stations and variable delays at complex tram and road network intersections. The models are being used to examine the capacity and durability of the traction power systems as well as to assess the effects of various capital improvements on them.

Examples for the tram network include the introduction of longer, higher-performance vehicles on various routes, and the redistribution, or “cascading,” of the existing fleet of multiple vehicle types to other routes. Each vehicle type has unique performance characteristics and power requirements. The train network model is being used for major infrastructure improvement programs, such as level crossing removals, a new tunnel through the central business district, and signal improvements, as well as for the introduction of a new higher performance fleet and longer trains. In addition, the models are being used to examine different operating strategies and service frequencies.

PTV had identified 33 potential traction power upgrades, including new substations, expanded substation capacity and other traction power system upgrades based on earlier manual analyses. TrainOps was used to quantify the criticality of each potential upgrade to support the introduction of the 110 larger trams with higher power demands. These models will continue to serve as useful tools for PTV as infrastructure, rolling stock and operating schemes change on these extensive networks.

The Results


LTK Australia recommended that a total of seven substations be examined via a follow-on risk assessment process. A total of six of the traction power upgrades were classified as Resilience Projects and four were found not to be required. Finally, one traction power project was recommended for repositioning to a more optimal location; with this change, it was reclassified as a Core Project.

TrainOps found that there are two tram network segments in the Melbourne network that are projected to experience low voltages under normal tram operation, even with all of the PTV-proposed traction power upgrades in service. These locations – Route 67 at the Eastern Terminus and the Domain Interchange area on St Kilda Road, over which multiple routes converge – were recommended for further analysis.

Did You Know?


  • Australia’s Public Transport Victoria (PTV) serves the Melbourne metropolitan area with one of the largest passenger rail networks in the world.
  • Melbourne has the world’s largest tram network, with 247 km (153 miles), nearly 500 trams, and 1,679 stops.
  • The first railway line in Australia opened between Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station and Port Melbourne in September of 1854.