Perspectives on railway axle bearing condition monitoring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Defects in railway axle bearings can affect operational efficiency, or cause in-service failures, damaging the track and train. Healthy bearings produce a certain level of vibration and noise, but a bearing with a defect causes substantial changes in the vibration and noise levels. It is possible to detect the bearing defects at an early stage of their development, allowing an operator to repair the damage before it becomes serious. When a vehicle is scheduled for maintenance, or due for overhaul, knowledge of bearing damage and severity is beneficial, resulting in fewer operational problems and optimised fleet availability. This paper is a review of the state of the art in condition monitoring systems for rolling element bearings, especially the axlebox bearings. This includes exploring the sensing technologies, summarising the main signal processing methods and condition monitoring techniques, i.e. wayside and on-board. Examples of commercially available systems and outputs of current research work are presented. The effectiveness of the current monitoring technologies is assessed and the p–f curve is presented. It is concluded that the research and practical tests on axlebox bearing monitoring are limited compared to the generic bearing applications.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Axle bearing, condition monitoring, on-board, railways, wayside

ASJC Scopus subject areas