The National Academies

Transit IDEA J-04/IDEA 24 [Completed (IDEA)]

Operational Testing of Intelligent Rail Lubrication System
[ TCRP J-04 (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis--The Transit IDEA Program) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Harvey Berlin

This project designed, built, and demonstrated an automated, computer-controlled onboard intelligent system for applying new environmentally safe and consumable lubricants for rail systems. The lubricant applied to the rail will reduce friction between the wheel and rail and is expected to provide significant benefits in maintenance, safety, and overall economic efficiency. A schematic diagram of the rail lubrication system for railroads is illustrated below. Progressive development of a rail lubrication system for U.S. railroads and transit systems indicates potential benefits including reduction in wheel wear, rail wear, and track maintenance costs. The scope of the Transit IDEA project was reduced to accommodate the FY’98 Transit IDEA funding shortfall. A final report was prepared for this Transit IDEA project. Tranergy continued the work on the system at its own costs after discontinuation of funding. In September 2000, a new joint venture called “Friction Management Services, LLC” was formed by Tranergy and Timken, a major international corporation. This joint venture has been continuing the work on the system and has installed many systems on locomotives of four Class I railroads in the United States and Canada for checking performance improvements on trains in revenue service.
Figure 1
NTIS # PB99-113219

The final report for this IDEA project can be found at:

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