Print Run is Now Closed

Thank you to everyone backed our Kickstarter print run and made it such a success…267 people backed us and ordered 293 books! If you ordered a book we’ll be in touch soon to get your shipping details and keep you updated.

The fundraiser has now closed and we’re not taking new orders at this time. We may produce another print run at some point; the best way to find out when that might happen is to join our mailing list.

Read our “thank-yous” to our backers here.

Download the 5th Edition PDF

Want to know how OLE works? Click the image, save the PDF and off you go. The book has already been downloaded 21519 times. (The 4th edition was downloaded 7838 times between November 2016 and December 2018.)

front-cover-5th-edition

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Roll of Honour

Thank you to all our lovely backers, who helped turn an online-only project into an actual, physical book. We are endebted to the following people:

Zoe Alderman, Munaf Ally, Kay Ayeni, Warren Bain, Chris Baker, David Baxter, Graeme Beale, Nick Beere, Derek Bell, Adam Benwell, Divya Beta, Paul Bigland, Luke Binner, Chris Bond, Matt Bowey, James Brandon, David Brignall, Gary Bromley, Paul A Brommer, Chris Bryan, Richard Bunning, David Burgess, Viv Burke, Benn Burton, Peter Byrne, Christine Caulfield, Iain Chalker, Michael Cheetham, Laura Chester, Constantin Ciobanu, Ross Clark, Jeremy Claxton, Chris Cockram, Piers Connor, Kevin Cooper, Alex Corcoran, Eddie Cowens, Richard Crabtree, Thomas Crame, Paul Croft, Gary Crutchley, Matt Curtis, Tom David, Mark Davis, John Day, Gareth Dennis, Ian Derbyshire, Catia Dias, Noel Dolphin, Mark Dowding, Stephen Draycott, James Drury, Owen Dunn, Bradley Dzimba, Richard Ellerton, Mark Elliott, John H Ewing, Richard Fargher, Mark Ferguson, Ian Ferrier, Jack Fisher, Mark J Foley, Neil Fowler, Alex Geary, Mark Gerge, Matt Gilluley, Rupert Goffe, Tommy Gore, Logan Govender, Cosmo Graham, Andy Gray, Neil Grennan-Heaven, Ana Halangau, Mark Hallett, Geoff Hancox, Daniel Hanvey, Jack Hardington, Kieran Harrop, Leigh Harvey, Hamish Harvey, George Hayllar, Terry Haywood, Jamie Heaton, Peter Herridge, Charles Heseltine, Alan Hetherington, Ray Hirtsch, Edward Holman, Ben Hopkins, David Horne, Graham A Howarth, Ben Hunter, Simon Iwnicki, Russell Jackson, Gordon Jahn, Tim Jarvis, James Jefferies, Gordon Jilks, Colin Johnson, Steven Johnson, Robert Jones, Ashley Jordan, Sonny Kanganga, Stuart Kelly, Alan Kennedy, Mohammad Munir Azam Khan, Matt Kirkham, Paul Knight, Tom Lane, Edward Lennard, Ashley Lovell, Paul Lundy, Anne Maningas, David March, Russ Marris, Chris Marsh, Dr Brian Marshall, Faye McCarthy, Robert McClelland, Adam McCreadie, Stuart McGowne, Alan Mclauchlan, Edward Mellor, Lucy Millard, Richard Miller, Tyson Moore, Scott Morris, David Mulligan, Lewis Nagle, Alan O’Hara, Martin O’Connor, John O’Dea, Katen Oza, Annie Evangaline Parayakattil, Asad Parkar, Jonathan Parker, Matty Parkin, Andrew Paton, Matthew Peers, Jack Pendle, Joe Percy, Russell Peterson, Giles Pettit, Danny Platt, Adrian Podmore, Anesh Ramkhelawon, Moises Ramos, William Robinson, Jordan Rolfe, Richard Ryan, Peter Savage, Martin Savage, Ryan Searle, Eiki Sekine, Gary Shenton, Steven Shiel, Sanchay Singhal, Bradley Skelley, Simon Skinner, Gavin Smith, Jason Smith, Richard Sobutta, Dave Speakman, Jamie Stallwood, Martin Stephenson, Graham Stubbings, Ben Talman, Taku Tamaki, Chu Xuan Tay, Darren Taylor, Brett Tharp, Mark Thomas, Christian Thompson, Lachie Tod, Martin Treacy, Graham Troupe, Marcin Tryszcz, David Vamplew, Simon Wadsworth, Simon Jam Wall, Keith Waller, Johannes Wallisch, Sean Walsh, Simon Warren, Hannah Watchman, Andrew Westwood, Anthony Whiteford, Keith Whoriskey, Robert Wilkins, David Willcock, John Williams, Adrian Williams, Ken Willy, Chris Wilson, David Wilson, Paul Wilson, Stuart Witts, Martin Woodcock, Shaun Woods, Andrew Worstencroft, Brian Wortman, John Wright, Christopher Wright.

Current Errata List

This is the list of errors which exist in the hardback printed 5th edition.

Page 80, sentence should read:
“This is because DC stray currents can be especially damaging to the running rails…”

Page 91, figure 84 – label “raising cylinder and primary insulation” should read “raising cylinder and primary suspension”

Page 235, sentence should read:
“Measurements taken during these tests include rise in earth potential, feeder current, fault clearance tomes times and return current paths…”

Appendix D:
Series 1 equipment is listed as using Copper Tin (CuSn) contact wire. In fact it uses Copper Silver (CuAg) contact wire.

This is the list of errors which exist in the free PDF download 5th edition.

Page 24, figure 7 was taken at Birmingham New Street, not London Euston.

Page 28, figure 12 shows a class 373 Eurostar, not a class 374 as described.

Page 80, sentence should read:
“This is because DC stray currents can be especially damaging to the running rails…”

Page 91, figure 84 – label “raising cylinder and primary insulation” should read “raising cylinder and primary suspension”

Page 134:
“For steel masts, the form that the mast takes is largely a matter of local preference and the relative cost of holt hot rolled steel sections…”

Page 235, sentence should read:
“Measurements taken during these tests include rise in earth potential, feeder current, fault clearance tomes times and return current paths…”

Appendix D:
Series 1 equipment is listed as using Copper Tin (CuSn) contact wire. In fact it uses Copper Silver (CuAg) contact wire.


This is the list of errors which exist in the 4th edition.

Page 12:

“In Europe & the US, it is known as Overhead Catenary Contact System (OCS)…”

Pages 17, 123, Appendix A, Appendix B:
Various references to Manchester to Sheffield via Wath should read “Manchester to Sheffiield and Wath route” (the lines split at Penistone).

Page 18, sentence should read:
“Across Europe, the 1500V DC standard was dropped in favour of 25kV at 50Hz industrial frequency AC; in the UK this was approved in 1956, using 50Hz AC as the standard for future schemes.”

Page 25, figure 13 was taken on 17 July 2016, not 12 July.

Page 40 figure 25 was taken at Patford Bridge, not Hillmorton.

Page 47 figure 32: top right hand side, “+25kV” label should be above the transformer coil, not below it.
Same figure, the sine waves at the left hand side of the diagram should be opposing each other.

Page 48, sentence should read:
“the other half comes from adjacent AT sites, using from current induced in the OLE…”

Page 53, passing clearance for Reinforced Insulation should be 200mm, not 600mm.

Page 63:
“Figure 46: Principal Principles of permanent earthing and buffer sections”

Page 88:
“…(for AC systems the total strength of the insulation must be √2 x line voltage)” should read:

“…(for AC systems fed from three phases with a phase angle of 120° the total strength of the insulation must be √3 x line voltage)”

Page 123:
“London and North East Railway” should read “London and North Eastern Railway”

Page 119, Figure 134 – the lower of the two geometry diagrams shows the Stagger Effect dimension incorrectly, and does not show the most extreme blown off wire position. The corrected diagram is below.

Page 130:
“The range was developed by the Balfour Beatty and Atkins…”

All references to BS EN 50122-1+A1:2011 should be updated to BS EN 50122-1:2011+A2:2016.

Looking for great OLE images

One of the things that I put a lot of effort into is getting the best possible images for the book. For the 5th edition I have a large number of new and original photos – but there are still a few items that are eluding me; usually for geographical reasons or because the equipment is not accessible to the average div with a camera (me).

If you are reading this and can help with any of these, please get in touch. Please bear in mind that I can only accept images that are high quality (sharp, good exposure) and crucially, that are your copyright. Please don’t suggest images that you got from a 3rd party or website.

These are the images I’m looking for:

  • Rock anchor foundation
  • Tram system – Uninsulated zero span overlap
  • Three wire crossover
  • Auto Transformer
  • Oil Circuit Breaker
  • Vacuum SMOS circuit breaker
  • SF6 indoor circuit breaker
  • AC protection relay
  • SCADA outstation
  • Long portable earth + clamp
  • Panning of OLE
  • Mineral hopper under OLE
  • Tram/train OLE crossing
  • Retractable OLE
  • Panchex
  • Ricardo Rail Panmon monitoring system
  • Balance weights in tunnel
  • Burndy tool