Traction motor

Traction motor

A traction motor is a type of electric motor used to power the driving wheels of a vehicle such as a railroad locomotive, electrical multi-unit train (such as a subway or light rail vehicle train), a tram, or an automobile.

Motor types

Traditionally, these are DC series-wound motors, usually running on approximately 600 volts. The availability of high-powered semiconductors (such as thyristors and the IGBT) has now made practical the use of much simpler, higher-reliability AC induction motors known as asynchronous traction motors. Synchronous AC motors are also occasionally used, as in the French TGV.

Transmission types

Before the mid-20th century, a single large motor was often used to drive multiple driving wheels through connecting rods that were very similar to those used on steam locomotives. It is now standard practice to provide one traction motor driving each axle through a gear drive.

Usually, the traction motor is simply suspended between the truck (bogie) frame and the driven axle; this is referred to as a "nose-suspended traction motor". The problem with such an arrangement is that a portion of the motor's weight is unsprung, increasing forces on the track. Occasionally, other mounting arrangements are made. In the case of the GG1, two truck-mounted motors drove each axle through a quill drive. The "Bi-Polar" electric locomotives built by General Electric for the Milwaukee Road had gearless motors. The rotating shaft of the motor was also the axle for the wheels. In the case of the TGV power units, a motor mounted to the power unit’s frame drives each axle; a "tripod" drive allows a small amount of flexibility in the drive train allowing the trucks (bogies) to pivot. By mounting the relatively heavy traction motor directly to the power unit rather than to the truck (bogie), better dynamics are obtained allowing much-improved high-speed operation.


In diesel-electric and gas turbine-electric locomotives the horsepower rating of the traction motors is usually 81% that of the prime moverFact|date=September 2008. This assumes that the electrical generator converts 90% of the engine's output into electrical energy and the traction motors convert 90% of this electrical energy back into mechanical energy. Calculation: 90% x 90% = 81%.


Because of the high power levels involved, traction motors are almost always cooled using forced air.


Traction motors manufacturers includes:

* Chorus Motors (for series hybrids) [] .

ee also

* Air cooling
* Electric vehicle battery
* Induction
* Rare earths
* Torque and speed of a DC motor
* Virtual transmission

External links

* [ "Deconstructing a traction motor - Associated Rewinds (Ireland) Limited"]
* [ Image of a nose mounted traction motor on an R46 New York City Subway car. The motor can be clearly seen behind the axle with the gear box with the writing on it in the center.]
* [ Another nose mounted traction motor on a wrecked R38 Subway car.]
* [ Coney Island Truck Repair shop; many pictures regarding traction motors]
* [ Detached truck with Traction Motors.]
* [ Hi-Torque Electric]

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