The development of a crack propagation model for railway wheels and rails
Journal article, 2015

Rolling contact fatigue (RCF) and wear of railway wheels and rails are the main phenom-ena that affect their m aintenance costs. When crack propagation and wear rates can bepredicted, maintenance planning can be optimised, and cost-effective measures can bedeveloped. Several RCF models exist, but none which can be used in combination withvehicle dynamics simulations and can predict the actual crack depth. This study showsthe development of a crack propagation model that can be applied for both railwaywheels and rails. Two unknow n material parameters in the model were calibrated againstcrack measurements in a curve on the Dutch railways over a period of 5 years. Two dif-ferent RCF models were used to calculate the stress magnitudes for the propagationmodel. The propagation model can be used in combination with vehicle-track dynamicssimulations and shows promise in predicting the actual crack depth and/or surface length.Further research is needed to determine the model’s validity for other operationalconditions.

crack propagation

rolling contact fatigue


wheel–rail contact.


Babette Dirks

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Roger Enblom

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Bombardier Transportation

Anders Ekberg


Mats Berg

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Fatigue and Fracture of Engineering Materials and Structures

8756-758X (ISSN) 1460-2695 (eISSN)

Vol. 38 12 1478-1491

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Applied Mechanics

Infrastructure Engineering



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