R3.110 Wheel-rail tribology - placement of lubricators on curves

Train motions through curves can cause major damage to wheels and rail, thereby raising maintenance requirements, causing noise pollution and increasing costs. In order to reduce the impact ofrail curve damage, researchers focussed on wheel/rail wear, types of lubricators and lubricants and the placement and operation of curve rail lubrication systems. The study looked critically at the use of various lubrication technologies and compared the results of current industry practices with trials which demonstratedimproved practice.

Project Status:

The project researched the effectiveness of different lubrication units, applicators and greases in different technical situations, configurations and climates. The resulting innovation was the identification of the most effective grease formula, more efficient positioning of equipment and improved greasing application techniques.

The Curve Lubrication project runs in alongside two additional CRC projects, Integrated Wear-Fatigue Lubrication and Rail Grinding Best Practices. Plans are to combine the outcomes from the three projects into an Industry Best Practice Manual.
A recent project to start is a study of top-of-rail (ToR) lubrication technology and its application for Railways. The project outcome will complement the curve lubrication project by providing supporting research information for total friction management solutions.


Properly and efficiently applied lubricants should lessen squeal on corners and reduce overall rail noise. These results will lower the stress on Rail’s urban neighbours, improve Rail’s environmental performance andhelp maintain a “community licence” for urban rail operations.
Correctly applied lubricants can reduce wear on track and wheel, particularly on the contact zone on the outside curve, which is the major wear site for track operators. Replacing curve rail is very expensive. Longer wheel and track life will deliver substantial savings to the industry.