Norilsk railways had to be fully electrified

Norilsk railways had to be fully electrified

September 28, 2022

The Norilsk railway electrification technical project development began in 1944.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. At that time only steam locomotives went along the Norilsk rails. Electric locomotives operated only on some small sections of access roads to mines.

The plans for the transition to electric traction began only in the 1950s. On October 18, 1954, the first electrified section of the railway was put into operation – from Ugolnaya station to CHPP-1 with a length of 7.8 kilometers. On it, two electric locomotives of the IV-KP-1 series delivered coal for the heating plant.

However, the change from locomotive traction to electric traction went on for a long time: they pulled the contact network at different sections, invited specialists from the mainland to work with new equipment.

In addition, with the arrival of electric locomotives, there was a problem with grounding. In Norilsk, it is impossible to ground, permafrost is a poor conductor. The railway workers found a way out: they put grounding on the rails themselves, installing choke transformers that absorb excess voltage.

Only in 1960, all freight traffic on the Kayerkan – Norilsk-Sortirovochnaya – Zapadnaya section with a branch to CHPP-1 was finally transferred to electric traction.

By the middle of 1965, 105 kilometers of railroad tracks were electrified on the Norilsk railway. Half of all cargo transportation was carried out by electric and diesel locomotives. The first electric train weighing 1,350 tons from Norilsk was launched to Dudinka in 1974.

But in 1998/99, the operation of electric traction on the Norilsk railway was stopped. The operation and repair of the overhead line in polar conditions was deemed too expensive, and it was dismantled. This is how the railwaymen themselves explained the problem:

“In the North there is a very large snow load, and the train speed, on the contrary, is not high – 60–40 kilometers per hour. Electric locomotives cannot operate at such speeds, they simply do not carry. Sometimes the tension dropped to such an extent that it was impossible to boil water in the kettle”.

From now on, only diesel locomotives run on Norilsk rails.

In previous issues of the History Spot photo project, we told that preschool teachers’ work in the 1940s differed from what they are doing nowadays.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

September 28, 2022

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