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Old Jun 26, 2008, 3:53 AM   #1
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While waiting for the delayed high speed train returning my family from London yesterday, I relived my trainspotting youth, wandering up and down the platforms with my camera.

Here, at the station approach, is the antithesis ofthe light overhead equipment you saw in Cal's streetcar shot.This is at 25kV a.c., though the trains use d.c. traction motors, just like Cal's streetcar.

In and near the station, trains are starting and accelerating, drawing enormous currents, so the gear needs to be strong. Electric motors exert their maximum torque as they start from rest, which is why they're so well suited to railways. Most large diesel locos are in fact mobile power stations, using electric traction motors.
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 4:20 AM   #2
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Nevertheless, it amazes me that the 204 Amp starting currents for this 5.1 MegaWatt 'Virgin Pendolino' trainset pass satisfactorily through just these three tiny sliding contacts with the slim overhead conductors.

These 'tilting train' trainsets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_390 ) have an interesting history. The 'Advanced Passenger Train' was developed by the then state-owned British Railways in the 1980s. The prototype stands in a museum at the other end of Crewe Station. It rendered its passengers nauseous in trials, so they gave up due to lack of funding, and sold the technology to Fiat. They perfected it, ran it successfully in Italy, and sold the complete trainsets back to us in the last few years.

Crewe railway works was probably the largest in the world for a century or so, but now it's tiny. My grandfather worked there as an engineer around the end of the 19th century and met my grandmother, a Shropshire milkmaid, at nearby Nantwich Fair.

Rolls-Royce and Bentley luxury cars are still, so far, manufactured in Crewe, however.
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