EU Pursues Rail Grease Standard


The European Lubricating Grease Institute and the European Committee for Standardization both want to create a standard for greases to reduce noise and wear on railways. They disagree, however, about the best way to do that.

Members of an ELGI committee contended recently that a railway grease specification adopted by the Committee for Standardization, known as CEN, last year does a poor job of addressing its main goals. As a result, the associations Railway Lubrication Working Group decided to continue working on its own specification. The working group will also try to point out the shortcomings of the CEN standard to railroad operators and encourage them to recognize the ELGI specification when it is adopted.

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In recent years the railroad industry in Europe has made it a priority to reduce the squealing noise train car wheels make when momentum pushes them against rails. This is especially a priority in urban and residential areas that railroads pass through. More broadly, the industry wants to cut down on rates of wear for wheels and rails, thereby decreasing the need for maintenance and downtime.

The ELGI working group has finished the first draft of a specification for greases that would do just that. The specification is now undergoing testing aimed at determining whether the tests that it includes are repeatable and whether they discriminate between greases that do and dont meet its performance requirements.

At an April meeting in Amsterdam, the committee voted to continue this work. Members also discussed the CENs specification, EN 16028, which also aims to reduce noise and wear. Some working group members said they had not been aware of the CEN initiative before EN 16028 was adopted.

Many of the test methods required are not industry standards and [lack] precision, said ExxonMobils Henri Braun, chairman of the working group. The main performance aspects of friction and wear are not covered. [And] many tests are for reporting only, so they add to development costs without adding any value.

The ELGI working group will contact CEN to share its concerns. They also agreed to contact the International Union of Railways to point out alleged shortcomings with EN 16028. The working group will ask UIC to cooperate on its standard instead.

ELGI, based in Amsterdam, is the technical institute for Europes grease industry. CEN, headquartered in Brussels, is a nonprofit association established to develop voluntary European standards.

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