Experimental studies on the performance of rail joints with modified wheel/railhead contact

Zong, Nannan & Dhanasekar, Manicka (2014) Experimental studies on the performance of rail joints with modified wheel/railhead contact. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit, 228(8), pp. 857-877.

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Rail joints are provided with a gap to account for thermal movement and to maintain electrical insulation for the control of signals and/or broken rail detection circuits. The gap in the rail joint is regarded as a source of significant problems for the rail industry since it leads to a very short rail service life compared with other track components due to the various, and difficult to predict, failure modes – thus increasing the risk for train operations. Many attempts to improve the life of rail joints have led to a large number of patents around the world; notable attempts include strengthening through larger-sized joint bars, an increased number of bolts and the use of high yield materials. Unfortunately, no design to date has shown the ability to prolong the life of the rail joints to values close to those for continuously welded rail (CWR). This paper reports the results of a fundamental study that has revealed that the wheel contact at the free edge of the railhead is a major problem since it generates a singularity in the contact pressure and railhead stresses. A design was therefore developed using an optimisation framework that prevents wheel contact at the railhead edge. Finite element modelling of the design has shown that the contact pressure and railhead stress singularities are eliminated, thus increasing the potential to work as effectively as a CWR that does not have a geometric gap. An experimental validation of the finite element results is presented through an innovative non-contact measurement of strains. Some practical issues related to grinding rails to the optimal design are also discussed.

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ID Code: 88609
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Wheel/rail contact, rail joints, edge effect, non-contact strain measurement, stress concentration, experimental test
DOI: 10.1177/0954409713496764
ISSN: 0954-4097
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 05 Nov 2015 05:16
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2015 05:16

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