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Rail Lubricants Market

Global Market Study on Rail Lubricants: Continuous Maintenance of Rail Tracks, Rolling Stock, and Locomotive Parts to Proliferate Demand

Rail Lubricants Market by Composition (Synthetic and Bio-based) - Segments are Estimated Value Share of around 90% in Synthetic and Biobased witness a CAGR of 2.3%

Global Rail Lubricants Market Snapshot

According to the study, sales of the rail lubricants market are projected to increase at around 2.1% CAGR over the next ten years (2023 to 2033). The market is estimated to top a value of US$ 1,727.1 Million in 2023 and is expected to reach US$ 2,126.1 Million at the end of the forecast period.

Market Valuation (2022A)

US$ 1,701.6 Million

Market Estimation (2023E)

US$ 1,727.1 Million

Market Projections (2033F)

US$ 2,126.1 Million

Value CAGR (2023 to 2033)


Collective Value Share: Top 3 Countries (2023E)


Friction plays a major role during rail movement on tracks, especially in adhesion, wear, braking, steering, and wheel climb, which can result in derailment. Rail lubrication helps reduce the friction between contact surfaces, wear and tear of components, and lateral forces in curves, resulting in significant fuel savings.

Rail lubricants play a crucial role in railway transportation, including regular maintenance and service of both passenger and freight trains. Effective rail lubrication saves thousands of dollars for maintenance and increases the life cycle of the rail and its components. Rail lubricants offer a broad range of operational benefits, such as longer rail life, less fuel consumption, and reduced noise.

The increasing number of metro train projects in developed as well as developing countries are expected to provide significant growth opportunities for the rail lubricants market over the forecast period. Innovations in the development of base oil & additives in the manufacturing of rail lubricants and the development of Perfluoro-polyether (PFPE) as base oil and polytetra-fluoroethylene (PTFE) as additive for noise dampening are also anticipated to gain significant momentum in the market.

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Historical (2018 to 2022) v/s Forecast (2023 to 2033) Market Outlook for Global Market

The historical study shows that from 2018 to 2022, the market grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.2%. Growing digitalization in railway technology, the rising need for an efficient railway network, and increasing investment in new railway infrastructure projects have led the industry to expand more swiftly than in the past. The market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 2.1% over the anticipated period.

India, Indonesia, and Brazil are considered emerging countries in the rail lubricants market, and on account of the spreading railway network, which is anticipated to boost industry in the foreseeable future in these countries. Digitalization and automation in the current railway network coupled with the growing government-supportive policies and initiatives to develop a smart railway network are also expected to boost the demand for rail lubricants over the coming years.

The railways play an important role in both cargo and passenger transportation, and frequent movement causes wear and tear on rail tracks as well as railway components. Railway tracks and rolling stock components, as well as locomotive engine parts like traction motors, bearings, and gears, require regular and thorough maintenance and servicing. According to rail safety rules and regulations, there is a need for frequent maintenance of rail tracks, to avoid track damage and maintain their integrity. The preventive maintenance cycle is expected to increase the demand for rail lubricants during the forecast period.

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Market Dynamics

Introduction of bio-based lubricants to augment the industry growth over the forecast period

Mineral base oils are utilized in the formulation of a wide range of lubricants used in industrial applications. Only a small portion of the remaining oils are made from vegetable or animal sources, while the rest are synthetic. Mineral oils work well and are frequently inexpensive, but they have a negative influence on the environment. This is especially true considering that up to 50% of lubricants are thought to be disposed of in the environment.

With regional governments focusing on greener initiatives, manufacturers are developing bio-based, biodegradable lubricants, which tend to have no harmful effect on the environment.

Bio-based lubricants have a very high biodegradability percentage, ranging around 90-95%, and a very high flashing point, which ensures that the lubricants can withstand higher temperatures than synthetic lubricants. This results in a long and enduring lifespan for lubricants and more cost savings for the operator.

Rising adoption of alternative modes of transportation is expected to hamper the market growth

Increasing automotive production and vehicle parc are the major factors restraining the growth of the rail lubricants market. Customers find it more convenient to travel by their own means of transport instead of using public transport for short distances. Increasing purchasing power and disposable incomes of the middle-class population are driving the sales of automotive and subsequently impacting the rail lubricants market.

On the other hand, countries with ineffective railway networks or sparse rail infrastructure are expected to limit the expansion of the worldwide rail lubricants industry in the coming years. The use of low-quality rail lubricants in nations like India is indirectly reducing the lifespan of rolling stock. Developed countries such as the U.S., are strictly using high-quality rail lubricants, but the lack of proper railway budgets is also creating hurdles in the growth of the railway industry.

Digitalization and automation in railway technology are the new key trends manufacturers are witnessing in the market

Digitization is expected to enhance safety in rail infrastructure and improve overall railway operational efficiency. Continuous digitalization in existing railway networks is expected to enable consumers to get real-time information related to the movements and positions of trains. Automation in metro trains is gaining traction across the world, and train automation is estimated to reduce overall energy consumption by up to 42%.

Digitization and automation of railways have been prompting the usage of automatic lubricant dispensers in high-speed rail and metro networks. Digitalized or automated rail networks require frequent maintenance and services of rail lines and rolling stock components. These are the vital factors expected to propel the demand for the rail lubricants market during the forecast period.

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Country-wise Insights

What is the market growth outlook in the U.S.?

The U.S. rail lubricants market is estimated to hold a significant market share of the global market in 2023. This increased demand for rail lubricant in the country is primarily attributable to its biggest rail network with an operating route length of over 250,000 km. The increasing investment in the development of an efficient railway system and redesign of the existing railway system is expected to offer a positive outlook for the market.

The country’s high dependence on the rail freight network and increasing need for a high-speed rail network are also expected to bolster the demand for rail lubricants in the country. The U.S. rail industry is significantly focusing on the development of new technologies that will automate systems to provide efficient operations and improve passenger safety. The country has announced various national high-speed rail systems projects, which are expected to provide various opportunities to product manufacturers in the coming years.

What is the market scenario of rail lubricants in the Chinese market?

China is anticipated to account for a sizeable portion of the global market in terms of volume and value due to the second biggest rail network in the world. The country has the largest network of high-speed trains and is extensively investing in the expansion of a high-speed railway network to connect all cities with a population that exceeds half a million people. Expansion and development of high-speed and metro rail networks in the country are anticipated to bolster the demand for rail lubricants during the forecast period.

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Category-wise Insights

How does the synthetic segment fairing in the market?

The synthetic segment is estimated to have a commendable value share of around 90% of the global market in 2023. Various advantages offered by synthetic lubricants, such as increased energy efficiency, greater film strength, higher viscosity, and others are key prominent factors bolstering the sales of synthetic lubricants market across the globe. High availability of synthetic lubricants along with low costs is also expected to boost the consumption of these lubricants in developing countries across the globe.

The biobased segment is estimated to witness a CAGR of 2.3% during the forecast period. The increasing usage of these lubricants in the developed economies of North America and European regions, due to growing environmental concerns and rising stringent regulations are the key prominent factors bolstering the sales of biobased lubricants during the forecast period.

What is the demand outlook of the locomotive lubrication segment in the market?

The locomotive lubrication segment is estimated to hold a significant share of around 58% of the global market in 2023 and is projected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. Locomotive lubrication offers several benefits, such as reduced fuel consumption, reduced rail and wheel wear, and increase rail life. These lubricants are also reduced workmanship, and material cost due to avoiding bogie welding, and reduction in other defects arising from installing and removing the wheels from wagons and locomotives. These are a few key factors bolstering the consumption of these lubricants in locomotive applications.

Competitive Landscape

The global rail lubricants market is estimated to be fairly consolidated with the presence of several key players, holding a significant share of the market. These players are investing significantly in enhancing product quality by implementing new technologies and adopting new lubricants with better compositions, at competitive price points.

Global players are also focusing on research and development for product innovations for the manufacturing of new biodegradable products. Key players are investing in the expansion of the sales network and the acquisition of small and regional players to increase their market presence across the globe. Several players are also making long-term contracts with dealers and suppliers to gain stability in revenue generation and opportunities for growth.

For instance,

  • In December 2021, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (ExxonMobil) and BioAccelergy Ventures have inked a joint development agreement to create a new bio-based stock for lubricants made from seed and vegetable oils. The multi-year collaboration intends to show that generating bio-base stocks on a commercial scale can be done in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In November 2019, The Timken Company acquired BEKA Lubrication (BEKA), with an investment of US$ 165 Mn, in order to strengthen its business for rail lubricants.

Scope of Report



Forecast Period

2023 to 2033

Historical Data Available for

2017 to 2022

Market Analysis

  • USD Million for Value
  • Tons for Volume

Key Countries Covered

  • U.S.
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • France
  • U.K.
  • Spain
  • Russia
  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • India
  • ANZ
  • Gulf Co-operation Council Countries
  • Türkiye
  • Northern Africa
  • South Africa

Key Segments Covered

  • Composition
  • Application
  • Distribution Channel
  • Region

Key Companies Profiled

  • Royal Dutch Shell PLC
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Total S.A.
  • BP
  • Chevron Corporation
  • China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation
  • L.B. Foster Company
  • Momar, Inc.
  • Klüber Lubrication
  • CONDAT Group
  • CITGO Petroleum Corporation
  • Petro Canada Lubricants LLC
  • The Timken Company
  • AB SKF

Report Coverage

  • Market Forecast
  • Company Share Analysis
  • Competition Intelligence
  • Drivers
  • Restraints
  • Opportunity Analysis
  • Challenges
  • Strategic Growth Initiatives

Customization & Pricing

Available Upon Request

Rail Lubricants Market Segmentation

By Technology

  • Synthetic
  • Bio-based

By Application

  • Railway Vehicle Elements
    • Gears & Bearings
    • Wheel & Axles
    • Couplings & Buffers
    • Brake Elements
    • Door Components
    • Air Compressors
    • Others
  • Railway Track Elements
    • Switch Plates & Fishplates
    • Curve Rails
    • Screws & Bolts
  • Locomotive Lubrication

By Distribution Channel

  • Online
  • Offline

By Region

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • East Asia
  • South Asia & Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa

- Companies Covered in This Report -

  • Royal Dutch Shell PLC
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Total S.A.
  • BP
  • Chevron Corporation
  • China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation
  • L.B. Foster Company
  • Momar, Inc.
  • Klüber Lubrication
  • CONDAT Group
  • CITGO Petroleum Corporation
  • Petro Canada Lubricants LLC
  • The Timken Company
  • AB SKF

- Frequently Asked Questions -

In 2022, the value of the global market reached over US$ 1,701.6 Million.

In 2023, the value of the global market reached over US$ 1,727.1 Million.

The global market is projected to reach US$ 2,126.1 Million by the end of 2033.

The global market exhibited a CAGR of 5.6% over the last 4 years.

The global market is estimated to grow with a CAGR of 2.1% from 2023 to 2033.

The synthetic composition segment is estimated to lead the global market in 2023.

The locomotive lubricants segment is projected to lead the global market in the forecast period.

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