Improving Autumn Performance: Helping the railway achieve better adhesion management

Low adhesion at the wheel-rail interface is a perennial problem that is faced by the rail industry. Whilst this problem is predominant during the autumn period, the network can encounter these issues throughout the year, for instance as result of moisture, diesel fuel and grease. Low adhesion leads to safety issues and significantly impacts performance. During 2015-2018 the average annual adhesion delay minutes experienced were around 380,000. The direct costs of low adhesion to the industry and wider society are estimated to be in the region of £350m per year.

RSSB has devoted research to develop a better understanding of the causes of low adhesion and possible mitigation strategies. Despite this research there are still gaps in the knowledge available. The challenges faced in this area could be further alleviated through greater clarity. ADHERE (ADHEsion REsearch challenge) is a cross-industry programme which aims to deliver research to achieve ‘adhesion conditions that are unaffected by and independent of the weather and climate’. The programme strives to address gaps in the industry’s knowledge with new insight which will help to improve the management of low adhesion.

RSSB is pleased to invite you to attend two dissemination events focussing on improving autumn performance. Specifically, these events aim to share and discuss cross-industry research and innovation activities that RSSB and others are undertaking, both in GB and elsewhere.

The event will be held on two dates at different locations:

Notable ADHERE achievements to date include:

  • Trial of Double Variable Rate Sanders (Birmingham Cross-City Line) 
  • Enhancement of LABRADOR (Low Adhesion Braking Dynamic Optimisation for Rolling Stock) model 
  • Development of LILAC (Leaf-Induced Low Adhesion Creep Force Model) and trial of moisture sensors.

The Network Rail R&D programme has also been piloting novel solutions to clean the rail head, such as dry-ice cleaning. Internationally other solutions have been developed, such as laser rail cleaning which was trialled on the New York and in the Netherlands.

Both events will be an opportunity to:

  • Engage and network
  • Find out more about what's been done and what is available to use
  • Discuss the next steps for exploiting the findings and solutions developed so far
  • Propose new ideas

‘[Double Variable Rate Sanders] is brilliant, absolutely brilliant… a marked improvement in stopping’
John McDermott, Train Driver and Instructor, West Midlands Trains
(BBC Midlands Today, 20 October 2019)

To attend, please register by clicking the links above. 

For any queries, please contact us at

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Get in touch with our Senior Partnerships and Grants Manager for further information.
Giulia Lorenzini
Tel: 020 3142 5434
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