Wheel–Rail Impact Loads and Track Settlement in Railway Crossings
Doktorsavhandling, 2019

Turnouts (Switches & Crossings, S&C) are critical components of a railway track requiring regular maintenance and generating high life cycle costs. A main driver for the high maintenance costs is the need to repair and replace switch rails and crossings as these components are subjected to a severe load environment. Dynamic wheel--rail contact forces with high magnitudes are often generated in the switch and crossing panels due to the discontinuities in rail profiles, resulting in a degradation of track geometry. One critical contribution to the track geometry degradation is track settlement. It is a phenomenon where the horizontal level of the ballasted track substructure decreases in height over time when subjected to traffic loading. Due to the design of the turnout and the variation in track support conditions, the load transferred into the track bed is not uniform and the resulting variation in settlement leads to irregularities in track geometry. Poor quality in track geometry induces higher dynamic wheel--rail contact forces and increases the degradation rate resulting in further differential track settlement, and possibly increased wear, plastic deformation and rolling contact fatigue of the rails. Thus, it is important to understand how settlement evolves under repeated loading to support product development and maintenance procedures of S&C, to provide a more uniform load distribution on the ballast and a more stable track geometry.

The current work aims to provide a methodology to increase the understanding of track settlement in railway turnouts. Different numerical models are used to simulate the dynamic vehicle--track interaction and predict the wheel--rail impact loads in the crossing panel.The calculated contact pressure between sleepers and ballast is used as input for calculating the track settlement. Both empirical and constitutive settlement models are applied to predict settlement for a large number of load cycles (wheel passages). The material behaviour of the track substructure under repeated loading is investigated using a three-dimensional finite element model. A parameter study is performed to determine the influence of train and track parameters on the impact load generated at the crossing. The investigated train parameters include vehicle speed, lateral wheelset position and wheel profile, while the track parameters are rail pad stiffness, sleeper base area and implementation of under sleeper pads (USP). The study shows that the magnitude of the impact load is influenced more by the wheel--rail contact geometry than by the rail pad stiffness. Among the investigated parameter combinations, the most effective mitigation measures to reduce sleeper--ballast contact pressure are the implementation of USP and increasing the sleeper base area.

vehicle--track dynamics

wheel--rail contact

track settlement

material modelling of ballast

Switches and crossings

turnout

cyclic loading

Green's functions

HC3
Opponent: Dr Yann Bezin, Head of Railway Research Institute of Railway Research, School of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom

Författare

Xin Li

Chalmers, Mekanik och maritima vetenskaper, Dynamik

Simulation of track settlement in railway turnouts

Vehicle System Dynamics,; Vol. 52(2014)p. 421-439

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Three-dimensional modelling of differential railway track settlement using a cycle domain constitutive model

International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics,; Vol. 40(2016)p. 1758-1770

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Simulation of vertical dynamic vehicle-track interaction in a railway crossing using Green's functions

Journal of Sound and Vibration,; Vol. 410(2017)p. 318-329

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

X. Li, J. C. O. Nielsen and P. T. Torstensson. Simulation of wheel--rail impact load and sleeper--ballast contact pressure in railway crossings using a Green's function approach. Journal of Sound and Vibration. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsv.2019.114949

A solid ground for the understanding of track settlement in railway crossings

Railway turnouts (switches and crossings, S&C) are critical components in the railway system. They provide flexibility in traffic routes by allowing trains to switch from one track to another. To serve this purpose, the turnout consists of both movable and fixed mechanical parts, as well as systems for mechatronics and signalling. In Sweden alone, there are about 14 000 S&Cs in the 16 600 km of railway network.

Turnouts stand for significant contributions to the number of reported track faults and the total cost for railway maintenance. In 2018, the cost for maintenance of turnouts in Sweden was MSEK 530, corresponding to about 10 % of the total railway maintenance cost. Further, it was the railway component that caused most train delays. One of the main drivers for the high maintenance costs is the need to repair and replace switch rails and crossings as these components are subjected to a severe load environment resulting in the degradation of rail profiles and track geometry.

One contribution to the degradation of track geometry in turnouts is differential track settlement. This is a phenomenon where the horizontal level of the supporting track substructure decreases in height over time when subjected to repeated traffic loading. Dynamic wheel–rail contact forces with high magnitudes are generated in the switch and crossing panels due to the discontinuities in rail profiles that are necessary to allow for the rerouting of traffic. Because of the turnout design and the variation in track support conditions, the load transferred into the track bed is not uniform, thus resulting in a variation in settlement along the track and irregularities in track geometry. Poor quality in track geometry induces higher dynamic wheel--rail contact forces that further increase the degradation of rail profiles and track geometry.

The present work aims to provide a methodology to improve the understanding of differential track settlement in railway turnouts. This includes predictions of the high-magnitude wheel--rail impact loads on the crossing generated by passing trains with worn wheel profiles, the distribution of contact pressure between sleepers and ballast, and the accumulated permanent deformation of the track substructure.

Another objective is to provide an accurate and generic simulation environment accounting for the multiple wheel–rail contacts in the crossing panel and considering the high-frequency dynamic interaction between the vehicle and the complete railway turnout. This simulation environment offers a safe and time-efficient complement to expensive field experiments. It also allows for an optimisation of the turnout design. Examples of design aspects considered in this thesis are selection of rail pad stiffness, implementation of under sleeper pads, and design of the bearers (sleepers). A better understanding and mitigation of wheel–rail impact loads and differential settlement in turnouts can also contribute to the reduction of other track degradation mechanisms, such as wear, plastic deformation and rolling contact fatigue of the rails.

In2Track-2

Europeiska kommissionen (Horisont 2020), 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

Styrkeområden

Transport

Ämneskategorier

Teknisk mekanik

Infrastrukturteknik

Farkostteknik

ISBN

978-91-7905-164-8

Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: Ny serie nr. 4631

Utgivare

Chalmers tekniska högskola

HC3

Opponent: Dr Yann Bezin, Head of Railway Research Institute of Railway Research, School of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom

Mer information

Senast uppdaterat

2019-09-17