Friction Management


It is our mission to help our partners understand the real advantages of installing friction management solutions. Correctly controlling wheel / rail friction is a key part of managing railroad operations to optimize performance and reduce costs.

Top-of-Rail or Gauge Face?

To achieve targeted friction conditions, three types of materials are typically used: friction modifiers, lubricants/greases, and traction enhancers. Applying the correct material to the correct surface is critical.

Typically, lubricants and greases should not be applied to the top-of-rail surface, as this can potentially impact the traction and braking performance of the train. As well, not all products are required for every situation. Depending on the local site conditions, vehicle-track dynamics, and desired outcomes, it may be only necessary to apply one, or sometimes two, materials.

L.B. Foster specializes in partnering with our clients to assess, implement, maintain, validate, and monitor a friction management program that works for you. Please consult an L.B. Foster Technical Solutions of Field Service Specialist for more information.

Friction Modifiers

L.B. Foster water-based drying Friction Modifiers are applied to the top-of-rail or wheel tread. They create an intermediate friction level and positive friction conditions between the wheel and the rail. These features help to achieve the complete range of benefits from Total Friction Management®. L.B. Foster manufactures a complete line of Friction Modifiers for Transit and Freight applications.

Greases and Lubricants

L.B. Foster has engineered a complete range of greases and lubricants specifically designed for the demanding freight and transit rail environments. These products are applied to the rail gauge face, restraining rail, or wheel flange. They reduce the friction to very low levels between the wheel and the rail. These conditions help to reduce rail and wheel wear, derailment potential, fuel consumption, and certain types of noise.

Traction Enhancers

L.B. Foster Traction Enhancers are applied to the top-of-rail. They increase the friction between the wheel and the rail to ensure maximum traction and braking performance. These products are typically used in the fall season to address low friction conditions due to leaves on the rail but can also be used year-round to enhance friction in areas where traction or braking performance is critical.

Trackside or On-Board?

L.B. Foster has developed a comprehensive range of solutions for applying friction management materials in any situation faced by vehicle or track operators looking to improve performance and save costs. We can work with you to implement friction management anywhere it is required, whether on-board a train, in a tunnel, on an elevated guideway, or in a remote location. Our commitment to making a solution work for you is what makes L.B. Foster the market leader.

Trackside Application Systems

Trackside Application Systems are installed as part of the rail infrastructure to protect the track. L.B. Foster's state-of-the-art electric PROTECTOR® and pressurized ESA™ systems can be easily placed in key areas where friction management is needed, such as near curves and switches. All L.B. Foster trackside systems can be equipped with our completely redesigned Remote Performance Monitoring (RPM) platform, allowing track owners and maintainers to remotely manage their assets and gain insight into its performance. This technology helps to achieve maximum uptime and minimum operating costs of this valuable equipment.

On-Board Application Systems

On-Board Application Systems are installed on the rolling stock to protect the vehicle wheels, avoid derailment, and improve ride quality. L.B. Foster pioneered the Solid Stick application system that continues to set the benchmark for quality and performance today. We have also developed an On-board Liquid spray system for customers that want the benefits of both on-board and trackside application systems in one, eliminating the maintenance and track access requirements of a Trackside Friction Management program.

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