Railway braking


Often in the shadow of traction, railway braking remains unknown, even in the railway world where the aura of speed records often hides the daily performances that the braking systems shall ensure to enable operation at 300 kph as well as mass transit on metros and suburban trains.

However - hudge understatement - traction would not exist without braking. And the latter is most of the time the limiting factor of performances of a rolling stock, as it is far more difficult to dissipate kinetic energy than to create it, this with a high level of safety.

The subject of the present page is neither to promote braking nor to be exhaustive on this topic - others could do this far better than me - but to help you discover what railway braking is, and how it works. You'll then be able to better understand the stakes addressed every day by rolling stocks that are operated and men and women who design and drive them to transport you safely where you want to go.

Several reports have been published in railway technical reviews about trains braking. The most complete and recent study is probably the one realzed by Michel BO╬TEUX, former head of Braking Department within the Rolling Stock Division in SNCF, for the AFAC magazine (Chemins de Fer numbers407, 410, 412, 415, 422, 428, 430, 440, 441, 452 and 459).

Although very technical, these reports are very well done and I strongly encourage you to refer to them after having read the present pages.