Earth, Planets and Space

, Volume 61, Issue 8, pp i–xv | Cite as

DC railways and the magnetic fields they produce—the geomagnetic context

  • F. J. Lowes
Open Access
Research News


DC electric railways produce magnetic fields, not only from the intended traction currents, but also from unintended earth-leakage currents; these fields, particularly those from the leakage currents, are becoming an increasing problem for geomagneticians. This paper introduces the relevant properties of DC-railway traction-power circuits, and the various ways in which earth-leakage currents are produced, and discusses models of how these leakage currents vary along the track and with train position. It describes the geometry of the resultant magnetic fields, and gives the formal algebra for calculating the magnetic field when these leakage currents are known, but also suggests some simple approximations that could be used when the current distribution is not known in detail. This paper also summarises previous relevant papers.

Key words

DC railways earth leakage geomagnetic field leakage current magnetic field magnetic observatory 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences (SGEPSS); The Seismological Society of Japan; The Volcanological Society of Japan; The Geodetic Society of Japan; The Japanese Society for Planetary Sciences; TERRAPUB. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ChemistryNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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