Ratchetting of railhead in the vicinity of the gap of the insulated rail joints

Bandula-Heva, Thaminda Madunoraj (2013) Ratchetting of railhead in the vicinity of the gap of the insulated rail joints. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Insulated Rail Joints (IRJs) are designed to electrically isolate two rails in rail tracks to control the signalling system for safer train operations. Unfortunately the gapped section of the IRJs is structurally weak and often fails prematurely especially in heavy haul tracks, which adversely affects service reliability and efficiency. The IRJs suffer from a number of failure modes; the railhead ratchetting at the gap is, however, regarded as the root cause and attended to in this thesis. Ratchetting increases with the increase in wheel loads; in the absence of a life prediction model, effective management of the IRJs for increased wagon wheel loads has become very challenging. Therefore, the main aim of this thesis is to determine method to predict IRJs' service life.

The distinct discontinuity of the railhead at the gap makes the Hertzian theory and the rolling contact shakedown map, commonly used in the continuously welded rails, not applicable to examine the metal ratchetting of the IRJs. Finite Element (FE) technique is, therefore, used to explore the railhead metal ratchetting characteristics in this thesis, the boundary conditions of which has been determined from a full scale study of the IRJ specimens under rolling contact of the loaded wheels.

A special purpose test set up containing full-scale wagon wheel was used to apply rolling wheel loads on the railhead edges of the test specimens. The state of the rail end face strains was determined using a non-contact digital imaging technique and used for calibrating the FE model. The basic material parameters for this FE model were obtained through independent uniaxial, monotonic tensile tests on specimens cut from the head hardened virgin rails. The monotonic tensile test data have been used to establish a cyclic load simulation model of the railhead steel specimen; the simulated cyclic load test has provided the necessary data for the three decomposed kinematic hardening plastic strain accumulation model of Chaboche.

A performance based service life prediction algorithm for the IRJs was established using the plastic strain accumulation obtained from the Chaboche model. The predicted service lives of IRJs using this algorithm have agreed well with the published data.

The finite element model has been used to carry out a sensitivity study on the effects of wheel diameter to the railhead metal plasticity. This study revealed that the depth of the plastic zone at the railhead edges is independent of the wheel diameter; however, large wheel diameter is shown to increase the IRJs' service life.

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ID Code: 64442
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Dhanasekar, Manicka & Yan, Cheng
Additional Information: The faculty has granted a two year embargo for this thesis.
Keywords: ratchetting of railhead, insulated rail joints
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Nov 2013 03:38
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2015 22:21

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