For trains, wear and tear on rail and wheels are par for the course. Rail and wheels deteriorate due to wear, plastic deformation and fatigue. Rail-wheel deterioration, if ignored, can cause safety issues with the train and its passengers, risk of derailment, and also affect the lifecycle of the asset. It makes sense for rail infrastructure owners and train companies to develop integrated economic decision-making for operational and maintenance strategies.
Wear is considered as the loss of material from the surface of rail and wheels due to rolling and sliding contact. Rolling contact fatigue (RCF) causes cracks and corrugations to the rail. Rail-grinding is widely used in maintenance programs to control these issues; however, the interval at which to introduce maintenance depends on many factors, such as rail metallurgy, track curvature and axle loads. Rail-wheel lubrication is acknowledged as the saviour to most rail and train companies, with its benefits reaching from reduced wear to fuel savings.
Rail-wheel damage is reciprocal — unbalanced and damaged wheels have an adverse effect on rail; worn out rails have an adverse effect on wheels. Therefore the solution and maintenance should be reciprocal. Predicting the wear in both wheels and rail is the answer to achieving value, safety and an enduring lifecycle for the assets.
Information in this post sourced from: Techniques in Developing Economic Decision Model Combining Above-rail and Below-rail Assets, byReddy V, Chattopadhyay G, Hargreaves D, Larsson- Kråik P O, paper presented at AMPEAK11, April 2011.