Railway Wheel, Bearing and Brake Facility

National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
What the facility does

Offers comprehensive and dependable custom railway wheel, bearing, and brake testing programs and services to meet broad research needs and specific test requirements for railway running gear components.

Areas of expertise

The National Research Council’s (NRC) Railway Wheel, Bearing and Brake Facility enables research and testing focused on the reduction of wear and associated maintenance costs. The facility can also assist researchers to identify component concerns, limitations and failure potential before they become realities. Used by some of North America's largest railway companies, the facility is a unique and invaluable tool in the study and pursuit of reductions in premature wheel wear and failure due to bearing and brake overheating.

Railway running gear components are the most highly stressed parts of the car and they are the number one cost item in most railways' rolling stock maintenance programs. Axles, wheels, wheel bearings, bearing adapter pads and braking components of the highly stressed running gear system can be mounted on the facility and run up to a wide range of speeds. The entire array of forces and stresses are imposed on the components and held, or swept, to reproduce the operating environment. Under these conditions, their limitations and failure modes begin to appear.

Research services
  • Measurement of railway wheel wear rates
  • Development of rolling contact fatigue damage
  • Wheel/rail friction management product evaluation
  • Wide range of water, grease and sand contamination physical testing
  • Development of wheel/rail creep curves for different friction conditions
  • Testing brake shoes for metal pick-up
  • Development of specialized instrumented railway components
  • Performance evaluation of new and non-standard brake shoe materials
Sectors of application
  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities



Railway Wheel, Bearing and Brake testing infrastructure

Performance testing of railway running gear components. The facility can reproduce speeds up to 85 miles/hr (136 km/hr), axle loads double that of a 125-ton (113,000 kg) car, angles of attack up to +/- 27 mRAD, and a wide range of water, grease and sand contamination.

  • Transport Canada
  • Federal Railroad Administration (U.S.)
  • VIA Rail
  • Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway Company Inc. (QNS&L)
  • Ronsco Inc.
  • TTX Company
  • Trinity Rail Group