The effect of straightening and grinding of welds on track roughness

Bona, Melissa Ellen (2005) The effect of straightening and grinding of welds on track roughness. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Rail is a very expensive component of the railway track. Therefore, research methods extending rail life have great economic importance. During the past thirty years and, particularly during the past ten years there has been an increasing awareness throughout most rail networks in the world of the need to introduce improved design criteria, better construction techniques and higher standard track generally. This implies that quality control at all levels is mandatory if these objectives are to be achieved.

With the improved understanding of degradation of track, a more complete comprehension of the costs associated with different operating and infrastructure conditions should also be developed, aiding in the determination of efficient maintenance costs and their contribution to access charges. Track and structures together account for 60% of maintenance costs, with 50% of the total being track. The UIC has done a lot of work on comparative performance indicators, and these show what potential savings much be out there for the taking, just by adopting current best practice. The old wisdom is that it's not enough o do things rights; we have to make sure that we do the right things.

These developments have largely resulted from the demand for higher speeds particularly in passenger services and the demand to accept heavier axle loads of freight traffic. Whilst the conventional railway track structure is not likely to change significantly over the next ten years there will be a requirement over that period for better quality track infrastructure. This means less rail surface defects, less internal defects and less wheels irregularities.

The presence of rail surface defects generally increases the roughness of the track leading to a poor passenger ride and increased safety risk with freight traffic. In addition, rail surface defects will generally increase the degradation rate of other track components; however, not all defects will produce visible track deterioration.

Dynamic impacts produced by the rollingstock running over rail surface defects, such as poor welds, will, over time, create continuous rail defects, loosening of fastenings, abrasion and skewing of sleepers, crushing of ballast and loss of formation geometry. It is only in the recent years that the importance of poor welds in track has been identified. Dips and peaks must be recognised as a severe track irregularity that needs to be addressed and removed.

Current maintenance activities have little effect on removing misaligned welds in track and the improvement obtained after the maintenance works is generally short lived. On the other hand, straightening operations have proven to solve the problem and maintain the results following 7 months of traffic.

As part of this project, a six kilometre test section was selected on the Mt Isa Line and all welds located in this region were monitored for over 9 months to increase the understanding of the effect of individual maintenance activities on the track roughness. Three 2km Divisions were established; each Division had different maintenance activities and levels of intervention completed over the duration of the project. Over 15,000 readings were recorded and analysed. The following conclusions were drawn.

The effect of cycle tamping was clearly identified when comparing the means of weld located in Division 1, 2 to the mean of welds in Division 3. Cycle tamping showed to have a significant positive effect on the dipped welds geometry and an increase in severity of peaked welds prior to their correction.

Straightening operations completed in Division 1 and 2 reduced the overall mean of weld misalignments. These Divisions were subjected to different levels of straightening intervention however they produced similar results. Division 1 all dips were straightened and Division 2 only dips &gt0.3mm were straightened. This means that no additional benefit, in terms of overall misalignment of welds, can be gained when straightening operations target dips with a misalignment smaller than 0.3mm.

Cycle grinding proved to have little effect on the removal of both dips and peaks. In fact, due to the configuration of the grinding machine, grinding operation produced a slight worsening of the dips misalignments and only a minor improvement of peaks.

Although long term monitoring of the site may show minor variations in weld geometry performance, after approximately 3.9 Mgt of traffic the mean of dipped welds in Division 1 and 2 appeared to remain unaltered, as Division 3 showed a minor worsening. Furthermore, the mean of peaked welds in Division 1 and 2 appeared to remain unaltered, as Division 3 showed a minor worsening.

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ID Code: 16180
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Murray, Martin & Ferreira, Luis
Keywords: ballast, corrugation, continuous welded rail (cwr), flashbutt welds, formation, gauge, kilometre post, long welded rail (lwr), maintenance machines, p2 forces, rail, rail grinder, resonance, rollingstock, sleeper, speed board, tamping machine, track condition index (tci), thermite weld, top and line, top defects, track, track monuments, welded track
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Melissa Ellen Bona
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:58
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:40

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