Cost-efficient overhead line construction – where does it start?

As early as during planning, decisions on the work technology to be used are taken. 

Increased quality and output

The further development of work sequences allows enormous quality increases. At the same time, it enables the total costs to be reduced by up to 40%. Moreover, rising requirements regarding operational safety and protection of staff can be met.

High operational reliability, a long service life and, as a result, low life cycle costs (LCC) are desirable. A consistently high quality is crucial to achieve these parameters. This high quality results from both accuracy of installation and the right installation technology involving the right equipment and machines. But there is more: Extreme deformations of the contact wire during installation must be avoided as they lead to residual tensions affecting the service life and alignment of the contact wire. The same applies to fluctuations in the tensile force during assembly. Therefore, the contact wire must be guided exactly during installation.

Thoroughly assessing the total costs, particularly with regard to operational reliability and life cycle costs of the catenary installation machines (FUM) and catenary work machines (MTW), helps to choose the right technology.


  • Sweden: Banverket (now Infranord) reports that there was a five-fold increase in the productivity despite reducing the personnel by half.
  • Switzerland: Without any reduction in output, SBB performs overhead line exchange with a crew reduced by 40% and renewal of catenary suspension with a crew reduced by 55%.
  • Austria: Compared to the traditional method, ÖBB has doubled the output per shift for maintenance. Personnel costs were cut by 60%.

Terms and abbreviations at a glance

  • Contact wire Lowest wire of the overhead line system supplying traction current for electric motor vehicles, contact via pantograph
  • Contact line Line composed of several contact wires; the electric energy is guided to the vehicles via a pantograph
  • Contact line system Equipment for supplying electrical energy from the substations to the electric motor vehicles composed of overhead line or contact rail (masts, foundations, supporting structure etc.)
  • FUM (catenary renewal machine) Catenary installation machine to install, renew or remove an overhead line system consisting of contact wire and carrying cable
  • Dropper Wire connecting contact wire and catenary wire
  • MAGE (mast setting unit) Machine for setting masts for the overhead line system
  • MTW (motor tower car) Catenary work machine for versatile application; depending on the equipment it can be used for maintenance, fast intervention or overhead line construction
  • Nominal tensile force Tensile force of the contact wire
  • Overhead line Contact line placed above or beside the upper limit of the vehicle gauge
  • Overhead line system Contact line system using an overhead line to supply energy to vehicles
  • Return conductor Conductor returning traction current to the substation (generally from the substation via the contact line, via the pantograph to the vehicle and via the rail)
  • Feeder cable Overhead power cable mounted close to the overhead line on the same support structures supplying energy to the feeders
  • Carrying cable Topmost cable of the overhead line system supporting the contact wire
  • Reinforcing feeder Overhead power cable installed close to the overhead line and connected to it at regular intervals to increase the effective conductor cross section (e.g. during high traffic volume)
  • Winch unit Component of a FUM carrying the storage drums with contact wire and carrying cable ensuring straight and twist-free guidance of the wire and cable during controlled winding and unwinding
  • Staggered installation Common installation method of the contact wire contributing to uniform wear behaviour at the pantograph

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