Rail vehicles negotiating curves or in crosswinds are subjected to high lateral forces which provoke high displacements of the lateral suspension. As these displacements need to be limited due to gauging restrictions these forces cause the lateral suspension to reach the bumpstops and consequently the passenger comfort is significantly jeopardized. The paper presents the design of a pneumatic system that allows limiting the lateral displacement during curve negotiation (hold-off device). It describes the different phases of the design process starting from the definition of requirements to be fulfilled. The main components and the effect of their characteristics on the overall performance of the centring system are studied, and completed with an experimental analysis of the centring system. Finally, the described methodology is applied to a typical high speed rail vehicle. The results prove that the concept of a centring system which uses the same technology and components that are used in rail vehicles for the pneumatic height control system of secondary suspensions is possible. This fact is particularly interesting as the market offers this kind of components and has proven their reliability during many hours of service therefore the new hold-off system will be based on in-service validated components.