Five Common Third Rail Components And Their Uses

Posted on: 31 August 2023


Used in many electrified railway systems around the world, third rail train equipment comes in various forms. Typically, however, all third rail train equipment is designed to function in support of a continuous conductor which is used to transmit electric power to the train's traction motors. Such equipment is commonly used in subways and light rail networks to ensure the seamless and safe operation of the third rail system. Several specific components will be made by a third rail train equipment manufacturer these days. Learn more about some of the most common ones by reading on.

Splice Joints

This type of third rail train equipment is a connector. Splice joints are used to join the ends of two consecutive third rail segments. Over time and due to the constant flow of electrical current, the third rail will necessarily undergo significant wear and tear, leading to potential breakage or faults. Splice joints ensure that there is a consistent and uninterrupted flow of electricity by connecting rail segments tightly to one another. By providing a strong mechanical and electrical bond, splice joints play a crucial role in ensuring the system's reliability and efficiency.

Insulated Joints

This type of third rail train equipment is used to electrically isolate different sections of the third rail. These joints are essential at signaling blocks or other railway sections that require electrical segmentation, usually for safety or operational reasons.

Mid-Point Anchors

As the name suggests, these anchors are installed at various intervals along the third rail's length to provide stability and maintain the rail's position relative to the track. They counteract the forces that could move the third rail, such as thermal expansion or the consistent pressure from the train's collecting shoes. By anchoring the third rail firmly in place, these fixings ensure that the rail remains in the correct position for optimal power transmission.


Serving as transitional segments, this sort of third rail train equipment allows a train's collecting shoe to engage or disengage with the third rail smoothly. The shoe is the component that slides along the third rail to draw power. Ramps are particularly useful at points where trains enter or leave the electrified sections of track. They tend to also be installed at sections where the third rail starts or ends. By ensuring a smoother transition, ramps prevent potential damage to both the third rail and the collecting shoe.

Expansion Joints

Third rail systems can expand and contract in different conditions. Expansion joints are installed at specific intervals to allow the third rail to expand or contract without causing deformations or breakages. This is crucial for the third rail's longevity and functionality, especially in regions with significant temperature fluctuations.

Reach out to a local third rail train equipment supplier to learn more.