Effect of the presence of moisture at the wheel–rail interface during dew and damp conditions

B. T. White, R. Nilsson, U. Olofsson, A. D. Arnall, M. D. Evans, T. Armitage, J. Fisk, D. I. Fletcher, R. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Incidents involving low levels of adhesion between the wheel and rail are a recurrent issue in the rail industry. The problem has been mitigated using friction modifiers and traction enhancers, but a significant number of incidents still occur throughout the year. This study looks at the environmental conditions that surround periods of low adhesion in order to provide an insight into why low adhesion events occur. Network Rail Autumn data, which provided details on the time and location of low adhesion incidents, were compared against weather data on a national and then local scale. Low adhesion incidents have often been attributed to contamination on the rails, such as organic leaf matter, but these incidents also occur when no contamination is visible. The time, date and location of incidents were linked to local weather data to establish any specific weather conditions that could lead to these events. The effects of precipitation, temperature and humidity on rails were analysed in order to further the understanding of low adhesion in the wheel–rail contact, which will lead to adopting better methods of mitigating this problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-989
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number4
Early online date2 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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