Magnetic Track Brakes (MTBs)

Magnetic Track Brakes are used widely in mainland Europe and on GB tramways. The GB mainline is missing a trick and it’s time to do something about it.

​Magnetic Track Brakes (MTBs) are a form of brake that is mounted on the vehicle bogie frame between the wheels. When the MTB is lowered to contact the rail, a magnetic clamping force generates friction between the MTB and the rail which contributes to train deceleration. MTBs are considered to have a beneficial effect at low adhesion sites, since their deployment is believed to help remove leaf film from the railhead, which provides improved rail head conditions for following trains.

Used extensively in mainland Europe and on GB tramways, our research shows that MTBs are generally compatible with GB mainline rail infrastructure, provided they are used only when other brakes are not fully effective, and they are not used repeatedly in the same location. The work demonstrates the positive economic case for fitting MTBs to new rolling stock and asserts that the adoption of this braking technology will contribute to assured stopping capability, leading to a reduction in SPADs and station overruns together with improved performance and capacity.

Image below is of a magnetic track brake arrangement and operation
Magnetic track brake arrangement and operation

This work has informed the creation of Rail Industry Standard RIS-2710-RST Magnetic Track Brakes, which was published in March 2018 and sets out compatibility requirements for the use of MTBs on mainline rail, and gives operators a way forward to introduce MTBs on new rolling stock.

Following the research and publication of the standard, RSSB is committed to supporting accelerated progress for the adoption of this technology on the GB railway. The R&D programme is ready to offer its knowledge and experience, together with seed funding to cover monitoring equipment and a part of the one-off safety and compatibility assessment cost, for early adopters that are prepared to share the lessons learnt and the in-service data that will be gathered with industry.

Topics covered

  • Enhanced braking
  • Leaf film
  • SPADs

Resources

Registered
Research in brief - Enabling magnetic track brakes on GB mainline rail - T1099
Enabling Magnetic Track Brakes on GB Mainline Rail (T1099 Report)
Impact of electromagnetic track brakes on rail infrastructure (S189)
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Paul Gray
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