The Educational Railroading Conference Leader Since 1994


2019 Heavy Haul Session


Friction Management: Uncovering a Cornerstone of Vehicle/Track Interaction.

Don Eadie

Don Eadie
Don Eadie Consulting

In 1994 friction management on heavy haul railways consisted mainly of wayside gauge face lubrication. Equipment was unreliable and poorly controlled, and each unit could treat only a few curves. The focus was on protecting specific curves from excessive gauge face wear, and many choices on products were made at a local level with limited technical input. Today the industry makes rather sophisticated use of both wayside gauge face lubrication and top of rail friction modification. Tens of thousands of additional applicators operate at much improved efficiency, each treating multiple miles of track, and using high performance and custom designed lubricants and friction modifiers. The invention of materials specifically designed to safely control top of rail friction was a step change in the ability to influence vehicle / track interaction. Detailed models of costs and benefits identify priority areas for investment, and impacts on both operating costs and capital of FM technology investments are fully identified. This presentation reviews the story of how the industry got from then to now, covering both some of the people involved, the key technology developments, and the evolution of industry awareness and understanding.

The presentation will then consider possible future directions for Friction Management based on the learnings of the past. Areas considered include super high performance consumable materials for longer carry and lower cost per treated mile, new models for equipment maintenance for greater uptime, and better scientific and practical understanding of the impacts of FM on RCF development and grinding requirements. The potential for train mounted approaches to achieve a step change in costs and effectiveness are also considered.