Mauritius Metro Express opts for state-of-the-art catenary technology with TENSOREX C+

By opting for the maintenance-free and compact TENSOREX C+ spring-tensioning system from PFISTERER, the operators of the new Mauritius Metro Express light rail system will be using state-of-the art technology in this climatically-challenging region from the outset.

Reliable compensation of temperature-related changes in the length of the catenary wire is a basic prerequisite for long-term smooth railway operations. The first section of the line officially went into operation in December, 2019.

The opening of the first 13 km section of the new Mauritius Metro Express light rail line marks the beginning of a new chapter in public transport on the island in the Indian Ocean after the last passenger train service was discontinued in 1964. Construction of the new 26 km line began in 2017. It runs from the capital, Port Louis, through its densely populated urban area, connecting it with the four major cities of Quatre Bornes, Rose Hill, Vacoas, and Curepipe. The first section of the north-south route has nine stops to Rose Hill; the second section will be completed in 2021 and will include 10 more stops to Curepipe. The operators are then expecting around 55,000 passengers per day.

Long service life and salt water resistance are a must

The contract for the turnkey construction of the line was awarded to the Indian construction company, Larsen & Toubro. The planners had become aware of the innovative TENSOREX C+ spring tensioning system through PFISTERER projects in Mumbai, India, and had quickly recognised its advantages. "For the new light rail line, the best possible technical solution was sought," reports Stuart Woodsell, Head of Sales, Rail at PFISTERER. "The climate in Mauritius presents certain technical challenges that can easily be mastered by using TENSOREX C+. This is why Larsen & Toubro approached us at an early stage to discuss the possibility of using our system."

Due to the proximity of the coast and a relative humidity of around 80%, a high resistance to salt water as well as absolute resistance to rust for the steel parts of the spring tensioning system are vital in Mauritius. "This requirement is also specified in other regions of the world and we can meet it with our products," says Rob Renshaw, Commercial Sales Manager, Rail at Pfisterer. "Especially in long-term operation, the advantages of TENSOREX C+ become apparent. Even in the harshest sea air, our maintenance-free tensioning system is a 'fit and forget' product with a 30-40 year service life. In addition, PFISTERER's team supported the technical planning and also supplied design-specific connectors, clamps and small steel parts for end terminations that were tailored to the customer's requirements. PFISTERER provided technical training to instruct the fitters on site in the safe handling of the products and oversaw the initial installation.

Maintenance-free, space-saving, easy to install

As a tensioning system for overhead lines on electric railways, TENSOREX C+ ensures that tensioned cables and catenary wires always remain at the defined height, even in the event of temperature-related changes in length. This reliable compensation is a basic requirement for smooth train operations. Instead of heavy and space-consuming concrete or steel casting compounds, with TENSOREX C+ a compact spiral spring and an eccentric disc provide the constantly-required tensioning force – rendering weights and cable guides on the mast completely unnecessary.

TENSOREX C+ works without lubricants and is therefore completely maintenance-free over its entire service life. The patented system is delivered ready to install and can be fitted within a very short time. Thanks to its compact size, it is also suitable for problem-free installation in tunnels. In the event of a cable breaking, the system is also fully reusable. The new cable is simply attached – job done.

Rapid expansion of the line planned

With the current project in Mauritius, PFISTERER has, so far, supplied 115 units of the tensioning system for the first two sections of the Mauritius Metro Express, including the corresponding mast mounting brackets and the cable securing kit. PFISTERER was awarded the contract in February, 2019, the first delivery was made in June and the light rail line was able to commence trial operations as early as 3 October. The opening of the second section of the line is scheduled for 2021 and plans are already underway for further expansion of the line to a direct connection to Mauritius' national airport.