Stray Current Management prevents electrical currents from discharging into, and corroding, nearby conductive elements

John Maher
Stray current management is a critical issue for railway systems. As stray currents can migrate substantial distances from their point of origin it becomes incredibly difficult to trace them, and the significant consequential damage that they can cause, which in cases I have investigated have included the destruction of landmark bridges, the corrosion of structural foundations, and the almost complete deterioration of a conductive gas main, that if it had corroded any further the chance of explosion increased to near inevitable levels

John Maher Techincal Director

Question

Stray Current Management

The effectiveness of a stray current management system is a key performance indicator on railway projects and as a result it is of critical importance to effectively address the issue throughout the construction phase.

  • Do not leave even small faults in the system: in the case of embedded light rail track, such as in street running sections of rail, it is vital that the insulation is not damaged which may create a route for stray current to escape.
  • Adopt professional quality control standards from day one: a rigorous approach to quality will help a construction project team restrict built-in stray current problems to minimal levels, if not render the issue as an obsolete consideration. Frequent examples of poor quality control, such as concrete slurry bridging the insulation in areas of embedded rail provide a potential route for electrical current to escape into the surrounding mass of earth.
  • Take stray current seriously: It is a real issue that causes very real problems and protecting lives and assets from its hazards is contingent upon a project wide consideration at all stages of construction.

The effectiveness of a stray current management system is a key performance indicator on railway projects and as a result it is of critical importance to effectively address the issue throughout a construction phase.



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