sealing for rail transport

Sealing Solutions for Rail Transportation

Public transport connects people across the world and with an increasing demand for metro, light rail, and more recently high speed rail such as HS2, rail transportation has grown to become one of the busiest modes of transport, particularly in urban areas.

In order to remain competitive, railway operators must be able to transport more and more people and goods with ever greater speed, reliability and efficiency. This, in turn, increases the performance and specification of the rail vehicles and transport systems.

The finish and integrity of a rail vehicle is crucial to its long-term durability. Sealing products must have the capability to withstand intensive use, whilst at the same time provide safe, reliable operation. For example, increased horsepower requirements in locomotives result in extremely high temperatures. And on the opposite scale, severe low temperature climates present operating challenges. Sealing materials must therefore be able to handle these extreme temperatures.

Chemical resistant rubber for the rail industry

The diversity of chemical media involved in transportation requires ancillary equipment that can withstand these severe working demands. Rail Industry applications include:

  • Bogies
  • Gearbox
  • Spring Type Actuators
  • Auto Couplers
  • Spring Tread Brake Units
  • Hydrostatic Pumps and Motors
  • Air Blast Circuit Breakers
  • Air Brake Valves
  • Door Gear and Seal Kits for Actuators

Due to the budgets and constraints of governmental agencies and private companies, total life cycle cost is critical in railway maintenance. The complexity of railcars today means that companies must work together. Efficient and effective cooperation between manufacturers, system and component suppliers is vital in order to reduce maintenance costs and significantly improving lifespan and performance.

UK Seals supplies a range of products specifically formulated to offer long term solutions for permanent elastic seals. Our range of components fit for these applications include:

  • Bellows
  • Packing cups
  • Guide rings
  • O-rings
  • Hydraulic and Rotary Shaft seals
  • Gaskets
  • Rubber to metal bonded parts
Bellows (boots)

Single and multiple convoluted bellows are protective seals for socket joints, ball joints and articulated shafts. UK Seals supplies a wide range of standard sizes along with custom designs and materials for ultimate safety, extreme temperatures, and protection against the elements.

Packing cups

Packing cups or U-cups are a lip seal, named for the cross-section’s distinctive “U” shape. Packing cups or U-cups are popular in low-pressure applications where a low friction seal would be beneficial. As pressure is applied to the U-cup the seal experiences an increase in sealing force until it reaches the maximum pressure the seal can handle.

Guide rings

Guide rings precisely guide the piston rod and piston within the cylinder, making it a very important part of the overall sealing system. The lifetime of the rod and piston seal would be greatly reduced without the guidance provided by this component.

Valve components

Valve components are integral to many harsh environment systems including safety-critical shut-off valves and compressor valves in railway braking systems. Valve components are comprised of aluminium, stainless steel, brass, or plastic, coupled with high-performance elastomers.

UK Seals offers a variety of valve components ranging from rubber seats and diaphragms to brass valve shutters and stainless steel assembled parts.


O-rings are used for effective sealing in many applications and prevent contamination into a controlled environment. They can be used in both static and dynamic applications.

O-rings are effective across a wide range of temperatures and pressures. However, selecting the right size and material of the seal for each application will help to increase the reliability and service life of the O-ring itself.

Rotary shaft seals

Rotary shaft seals are a high performance oil seals delivering exceptional wear and resistance to a variety of functions including aerospace, railway, power transmission, automotive, machine tools and fluid handling. These seals are resistant to harsh chemical environments and temperature extremes, and deliver exceptional durability over time.

Rubber to metal bonded parts

Rubber to metal bonding is an ideal process for manufacturing components and parts including; valve assemblies, shafts and rollers. Rubber is mechanically bonded to metal during the rubber moulding process. By combining components into one part rather than have two or three separate components not only results in potential cost savings, but also provides a more consistent and technically superior solution.

Advanced materials for demanding, safety-critical high specification applications

UK Seals supplies a variety of general and high performance elastomers to suit the vast majority of rail transport applications. Due to the high demands of Rail application environments, it is important that components are resistant to a wide range of chemicals. Materials are selected with the aim of reducing maintenance costs and equipment downtime by significantly improving seal lifespan and performance.

UK Seals offer advice and support with product development, design and selecting the right materials for the performance requirements of each unique application.

For more information on our range of rail sealing solutions, please contact our technical team on +44 (0)1388 722817 or send us an email to