Third Rail - Highest Voltages

Highest Voltages

  • Hamburg S-Bahn: 1,200 V, since 1940
  • Manchester – Bury, England: 1,200V (side Contact)
  • Culoz–Modane railway, France: 1,500 V, 1925–1976
  • Guangzhou Metro, Line 4&Line 5: 1,500 V

In Germany during the Third Reich, a railway system with three-metre gauge width was planned. For this Breitspurbahn railway system, electrification with a voltage of 100 kV taken from a third rail was considered, in order to avoid destruction of overhead wires by anti-aircraft guns. However, such a power system would not have worked as it is not possible to insulate a third rail for such high voltages in the proximity of the rails. The whole project did not progress any further owing to the onset of World War II.

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