Railway Bearings


Railway Bearings

The railway system is the lifeline of the nation. NBC Bearings has been partnering with the Indian Railways since 1952. It’s a symbol of efficiency, reliability, and mass transportation. Railway bearings are specialised components designed to facilitate the movement of trains and ensure their safety and efficiency. These bearings come in various types and serve critical roles within the railway system, including supporting the wheels, driving gears, and main electric motors.

Bearings Used in Railway

Rail bearing | Roller bearing axle box
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Roller Bearing And Axle Box
NBC has produced Axle Boxes for the railways since 1952. Over a million NBC bearings and axle boxes are in service with the Indian Railways.
Traction motor bearings | Bearing manufacturer
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Traction Motor Bearings
Traction motors are a common means of powering a train, whether the energy required is carried on-board the train in the form of a diesel engine and its fuel or obtained from outside the train by connection with an external power supply carried by an overhead line.
Spherical Roller Bearings
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Spherical Roller Bearings
Here spherical roller bearings come with barrel-shaped rollers that are adept at accommodating misalignment. They are commonly found in heavy machinery, including railway systems.
Cartridge tapered roller bearings
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Cartridge Tapered Roller Bearings
Cartridge taper roller bearings with technology from AmstedRail, USA, have the outstanding property of requiring no field lubrication.
Traction motor suspension unit (MSU) bearings
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Traction Motor Suspension Unit (MSU) Bearings
Traction motor suspension units (MSU) have been extensively used in locomotives to connect between frame‐mounted traction motors on and the wheels.
Traction motor bearings | Bearing manufacturer
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Insulated Traction Motor Bearings
NBC has successfully developed Insulated Traction Motor bearings. First time in history of Indian Railways, NBC make indigenous insulated bearings were fitted in both electric & diesel locomotive applications.

Features of Railway Bearings

  • High load capacity: Because railway bearings help carry the immense weight of trains
  • Low friction: The bearings ensure smooth and efficient movement, which in turn leads to reduced wear and tear on the railway infrastructure.
  • Low maintenance costs: There is low downtime, and safety concerns as millions of lives depend on it.

Types of Railway Bearings

  • Railway Journal Bearings: Journal bearings are one of the most common types of railway bearings that support the axle of the train’s wheels and allow them to rotate smoothly. These are lubricated with oil, for minimised friction and operational wear for increased service life. These are capable of absorbing shocks and carrying heavy loads.
  • Railway Bearings for Driving Gears: Driving gears transmit power from the locomotive’s engine to the wheels using specialised bearings. These are tapered roller bearings that can handle both radial and axial loads and withstand high thrust forces while maintaining precise alignment.
  • Railway Bearings for Main Electric Motors: Electric trains rely on powerful electric motors for propulsion. Deep groove ball bearings and cylindrical roller bearings are often chosen for these applications due to their high-speed capabilities and durability.

Benefits of Railway Bearings

  • Load Support: Railway bearings can withstand extreme radial and axial loads, while providing crucial support to the weight of the train. This ensures the wheels and axles rotate smoothly even under heavy loads.
  • Low Friction: Engineered to minimise friction between moving components, these ensure lower energy consumption, enhanced fuel efficiency and power consumption.
  • Smooth Operation: Smooth and consistent wheel rotation, for a quieter and more comfortable ride for passengers. It also prolongs the lifespan of railway tracks and minimises maintenance requirements.
  • Durability: Railway bearings are built to withstand harsh operating conditions, including vibrations, shocks, and temperature variations. This is crucial for passenger safety. A failure in a bearing can lead to derailments or accidents, making the robust design and quality control of these bearings a critical factor in railway safety.
  • Maintenance Predictability: Regular inspection and maintenance of railway bearings can be planned and scheduled in advance.Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance helps identify potential issues early. Regular inspections help identify wear, damage, or lubrication issues early, preventing costly breakdowns and accidents. Maintenance procedures include cleaning, lubrication, and replacement of worn bearings. Additionally, advanced technologies like vibration analysis and temperature monitoring are employed to detect potential problems.

Bearings Used in Railway


Which bearing is used in railways?

Railway bearings used depend on the railway component and its intended application. These mainly include a combination of 

  • Journal bearings,
  • Tapered roller bearings,
  • Deep groove ball bearings, and
  • Cylindrical roller bearings.

What kind of bearings are used on train wheels?

Train wheels are typically supported by journal bearings. This is because journal bearings specifically are engineered to handle heavy loads and provide smooth rotation. To ensure maximised output, these bearings are often lubricated with oil to reduce friction and wear.

Which bearing is used in railway axle boxes?

Railway axle boxes also use primarily journal bearings. These bearings play a crucial role in supporting the axle and wheel-set of the locomotive, ensuring their smooth and reliable operation.

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