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A Pantograph enables power transmission from a fixed third rail installation to a moving vehicle. These are usually rail vehicles or buses powered from overhead third rails. A scissors mechanism flexibly presses a collector strip (generally made of carbon) against the overhead third rail transversely to the direction of travel. Modern pantographs usually consist of two collector strips which ensure that permanent contact is maintained. The extraordinarily high stress to which these electrical connections are subject can be appreciated when one considers the high electrical currents involved during journeys which often involve speeds of several hundred kilometres per hour (TGV, ICE), coupled with extreme weather conditions that result in icy or rain-soaked overhead lines and continuous shaking and vibration.

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