The SYSTRA rail electrification team provides a comprehensive overhead contact system design and consultancy service for the railway industry, with leading expertise in both heavy and light railway infrastructure.

Integrating and upgrading rail electrification systems

Electrification systems are a fundamental part of rail operations in Ireland and worldwide. Designing and installing overhead line equipment (OLE) throughout the rail networks in Ireland and poses challenges for Irish Rail and its contractors.

There are challenges associated with integrating electrification systems with other infrastructure, engineering and operational systems, as well as with the built environment and topographical features. New technologies, such as Series 2 (v6) Overhead Line Equipment (OLE), need to be integrated with much older rail infrastructure. Electrical clearance between overhead line equipment and other structures needs to be maintained, through the application of Common Safety Method (CSM) risk assessments. There’s also a need to reduce the cost of electrification and deliver value for money – and to complete electrification projects within tight deadlines.

The rail electrification team at SYSTRA is recognised as a leading provider of overhead contact system design services. Our technical capabilities cover all aspects of electrification contact system equipment for high-speed multi-traffic mainline, suburban railways, as well as metro, light rail and tramway systems.

Discover how SYSTRA has applied innovation, technology and ingenuity to re-think infrastructure engineering solutions to optimise time, budget, safety and sustainability.

SYSTRA has one of the largest established electrification overhead line design teams in the industry – supporting the development of electrified rail infrastructure.

Railway electrification overhead line design

SYSTRA plays a vital role in developing, implementing and upgrading railway electrification systems. Within our business we have complementary expertise in track, geotechnical and civil design, enabling us to manage all technical interfaces in railway electrification projects. Our technical expertise enables us to manage the integration of electrification systems with other infrastructure, engineering and operational systems.

Electrical design services from feasibility to delivery

Our rail electrification services range from initial feasibility studies to outline and detailed designs, construction support and handback. Our electrification team can operate both as part of a multi-disciplinary project team or as the main discipline on electrification projects.

We have experience of working with all UK OLE system types, including UKMS, Series 1, Series 2 and OLEMI Mk3B. Our catenary experience not only covers 25kV AC mainline equipment, but also 750V and 1500V DC light rail and trolleywire equipment. Our in-house competency management system ensures we undertake OLE designs in line with Network Rail’s accreditation standard NR/SP/ELP/21130.


SYSTRA provides technical excellence in all aspects of railway electrification, including:

  • OLE allocation design.
  • Electrical sectioning and isolation documentation.
  • Safety CSM-RA risk assessments.
  • Basic design and specialist solutions.
  • Earthing and bonding.

Advanced OLE design capabilities

We apply our design knowledge throughout the OLE design process lifecycle, from detailed design of basic equipment and components through to scheme design implementation, construction and installation methodologies.

Our designs are produced to the BIM level standard required for the project, including the production of full 3D models suitable for integration and signal sighting. These could include:

  • Lines to be wired diagrams, section diagrams and wind-pressure maps.
  • Steelwork, foundations, catenary and all small part steel work allocation, switching and feeding arrangements.
  • Structural and topographical investigations and consideration of clearances to existing infrastructure, including bridges, signals and station canopies.

Safety-focused electrification designs

Our designs are produced in accordance with CSM-RA (Common Safety Method for Risk Evaluation and Assessment) guidelines. We support clients throughout each project, ensuring the safety story is documented by providing necessary evidence of risk reduction and demonstrating that risks are As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) – with CSM-RA legislation in mind. We also undertake hazard identification (HAZID) workshops, which allow project teams to demonstrate interventions or measures to minimise risks.

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