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PantoSystem: A game-changer for light rail

A PantoScanner on the new pole-mounted installation near Aarhus central station; the high-performance Mark V PantoScanner.

PantoInspect, the market-leading manufacturer and supplier of automated and real-time wayside pantograph monitoring systems, is proud to announce that its PantoSystem has now been installed on Denmark’s busiest light rail line in Aarhus.

The PantoSystem uses a combination of AI, advanced algorithms, and ultra-high-speed 3D laser triangulation for automated and real-time inspection of pantograph condition. The high-performance and robust PantoScanner has been installed on a newly-designed pole mount installation, which is a game-changer for light rail networks.

Quick and hassle-free installation

With traditional pantograph monitoring solutions based upon manual inspection at mileage-based intervals, depending on the network there may be long time between such inspections. This opens a time window where there is a risk of service interruptions due to malfunctioning pantographs, or, in the worst case, bringing down the overhead contact wires.

The high-performance Mark V PantoScanner.

The PantoSystem gives Aarhus Letbane fully automatic detection, analysis, and storage of data on all types of pantograph defects and damage. This technological breakthrough will also enable a transition to predictive and preventative maintenance of the pantograph condition of the system’s 26 LRVs, helping to prevent the costly and disruptive effects of any ‘tear-downs’ of the overhead contact line.

The PantoScanner was up and running in Aarhus in less than 24 hours, with no requirement for track possession or any disruption to service. The light rail network, serving Denmark’s second-largest city, opened in December 2017 and consists of 26 Stadler LRVs running on 110km (68 miles) of lines from central Aarhus via the harbour to the neighbouring towns of Odder to the south and Grenaa to the north-east. Due to its strategic installation at the core of the network, all LRVs passing by Aarhus central station are therefore scanned by the PantoSystem.

The PantoSystem solution inspects each vehicle’s pantograph every time it passes a scanner. This has several advantages. Firstly, it gives early warning of developing issues and generates real-time alerts in case of critical damage. Secondly, due to frequency of the scans, it enables a move towards predictive maintenance strategies – for example, planned replacement of pantograph carbons according to their wear. At Sydney Trains, a similar installation means that every third pantograph carbon strip replacement could be avoided.

Data from Belgian rail infrastructure manager Infrabel states that every minute of train delays has a cost of around EUR100. A serious overhead contact line incident can equal up to 15 000 minutes of delays, the associated costs of disruption can be significant. These are the kinds of costs the PantoSystem can help to save.

Robust, reliable and real-time

As the PantoSystem detects issues in real-time, immediate alerts can be viewed by maintenance and control centre staff on either a web-based system or mobile device. The scanner can be integrated into existing early warning systems and an additional physical alarm (PantoAlerter) can be specified; this is often a useful additional feature for busy operations centres.

The PantoSystem is also largely maintenance-free. Depending on location, it may be necessary to clean the sensors once per year. That is it. The system is also designed to be impervious to environmental conditions: heavy rain, snow, hail, strong winds, extreme heat or cold – none of these are a concern for the PantoSystem.

Article appeared originally in TAUT 1008 (December 2021)


PantoInspect was the first company in the world to develop an automated pantograph inspection system, in partnership with Banedanmark, in 2008.

Today, PantoInspect is a market-leading manufacturer and supplier of automated and real-time wayside pantograph monitoring systems to the global railway industry.