Chalmers engineers have developed a new criteria for assessing the risk of cracking in rails and wheels.
According to the team from the Chalmers Railway Mechanics (Charmec) Center, cracking in rails and wheels is one of the largest maintenance costs for railway traffic.
It is also one of the primary reasons for many delays and stops that can lead to considerable costs for both train companies and track managers.
Chalmers is hoping to remedy by introducing new assessment methods that predict cracking in rails and wheels in a more reliable and environmentally friendly manner.
“More and more railway traffic goes on the same network, which leads to smaller windows for maintenance,” notes Anders Ekberg, an assistant professor and director at Charmec.
“But by being able to predict cracking, the risk of operational disturbances, unplanned maintenance and environmental impact is reduced.”
The costs can also be kept down, contends Ekberg, which is a necessity for a functioning and efficient railway.
The basis for the new criteria lies in research done by Charmec. The team’s research on cracking in the contact between wheels and rails has been linked to research in railway dynamics.
Charmec’s results could act as a standard tool for engineers who design wheels and boggies for trains. In addition, they can be implemented in most commercial programs used to analyze how trains load the track.
The criteria developed at Chalmers are also an important ingredient in design, virtual testing and product approval.
This means that engineers, already at the design stage, can ensure that the design of rails, gears, wheels and boggies has properties that give an acceptable low risk of cracking.
The new criteria could be used to shelve costs while designing new gear geometries that reduce the maintenance costs for gears by around 20%.
They have also been used to optimize wheel profiles on the ore rail, which is a contributing reason as to why rail traffic is now being upgraded from 30 to 32.5 tons of axle load.
Image and content: br146leon/Chalmers University of Technology