Mechanical braking systems for trains: A study of temperatures, fatigue and wear by experiments and simulations
Doktorsavhandling, 2019

Increased demand for shorter travel times, higher axle loads, increased
volumes and increased punctuality of railway traffic calls for a better design
and management of the railway subsystems. The present thesis deals with
aspects of mechanical friction brakes, in the form of tread brakes and disc
brakes. These are critical for reliable, safe and economical operation of trains.
The thesis establishes models and simulation tools for frictional braking
systems that may operate in parallel with an electrodynamic braking system.

A main focus is the influence of thermal loading on rolling contact fatigue from
tread brakes at stop braking. A simulation methodology for thermomechanical
cracking of railway wheel treads due to rolling contact and repeated stop
braking by tread brakes, is established based on full-scale brake rig
experiments. Building on the same approach, plastic deformation of the tread
is also investigated. The results indicate that tread damage increases
drastically for frictional temperatures above some 450 ºC.

Another focus is temperatures and wear of tread brakes and disc brakes
under operational loading. In two field test campaigns, detailed
instrumentation and continuous measurements of relevant temperatures
and braking parameters are combined with intermittent measurement of
wear of friction brake components. Wear of brake blocks and wheel treads
is quantified. It is found that the tread wear introduced by the block contact
dominates for trailing wheelsets, whereas for powered wheelsets wear from
tractive forces in the wheel–rail contact can be of equal importance. In a
study on disc brakes, temperatures and wear performance are compared
for two friction pairs: one new segmented disc with sintered pads and a
traditional disc with an undivided friction ring combined with organic pads.
It is found that the discs have similar braking temperatures, but that the
wear of disc and pads is substantially lower for the segmented disc.
A numerical investigation of thermomechanical fatigue damage of the two
disc types indicates that the segmented disc also has a substantially
longer fatigue life.

tread brakes



disc brakes


Railway braking



KS101, Kemigården 4, Chalmers
Opponent: Prof. Paul Allen, Department of Engineering and Technology, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom


Mandeep Singh Walia

Chalmers, Mekanik och maritima vetenskaper, Dynamik

Have you ever thought of how crucial it is for a train driver to be able to stop the train? This means that there must be a braking system that works properly at all times and in all weather conditions. In the early days of the railways each wagon had a brakeman who operated the brakes. But in 1869 came the invention of air brakes served by pneumatic pipes and hoses along the train. This made it possible for the driver to operate braking of the entire train. At that time all brakes were mechanical. Not until the latest decades have there been alternatives, such as regenerative brakes. For these the braking energy can be fed back to the electrical network, which saves energy. However, for safety reasons, all trains must have a mechanical braking system as backup if other systems are malfunctioning. Luckily, modern mechanical braking systems are both cheap and reliable.

This thesis aims at further improving the design, use and maintenance of mechanical braking systems. Both traditional tread brakes (with brake blocks acting on the running surface of the wheel) and disc brakes (mounted on the axles of the wheelsets) are considered. Numerical simulations, laboratory experiments and field tests in revenue traffic are employed. Temperatures, stresses and damage as caused by the braking are evaluated. The combined effects of both braking and the rolling contact between wheel and rail are investigated. Different types of brake blocks and brake discs are compared. The results show, for example, how high temperatures increase deterioration and how improved design can give longer life of the braking components.


Hållbar utveckling



Bearbetnings-, yt- och fogningsteknik






C3SE (Chalmers Centre for Computational Science and Engineering)



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4662



KS101, Kemigården 4, Chalmers

Opponent: Prof. Paul Allen, Department of Engineering and Technology, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom

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