Developing validated benchmark tests for assessing friction management products

The University of Sheffield, Network Rail and RSSB have partnered to develop benchmark friction management product test specifications. The outputs will aid with the development, optimisation and approvals process of friction management products.


The friction coefficient of the wheel/rail interface varies due to changing environmental conditions but plays a crucial role to railway operation. Very high friction can lead to excessive wear and very low friction can lead to damage, delays and safety concerns. Friction management products are applied to increase, maintain or decrease this friction coefficient. 

There are currently very few guidelines that specify the requirements of products or how to assess their effectiveness. As a result, product specifications vary significantly and the performance of the products is relatively unknown. Anecdotal evidence is often favoured and the perception of performance and use of these products in the UK varies significantly between locations and user groups.

This project, supported by Network Rail and the Rail Safety and Standards Board, is using a combination of laboratory and field tests to develop benchmark test specifications which will be shared with the wider rail industry. The test specifications can be used to assess the performance of these products, aiding the product development and approvals process.

People involved

Dr Ben White

Professor Roger Lewis

Network Rail


Find a PhD

Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.