Wheel–rail impact loads and axle bending stress simulated for generic distributions and shapes of discrete wheel tread damage
Wheel–rail impact loads generated by discrete wheel tread irregularities may result in high dynamic bending stresses in the wheelset axle, leading to a decrease in component life and an elevated risk for fatigue failure. In this paper, a versatile and cost-efficient method to simulate the vertical dynamic interaction between a wheelset and railway track, accounting for generic distributions and shapes of wheel tread damage, is presented. The wheelset (comprising two wheels, axle and any attached equipment for braking and power transmission) and track with two discretely supported rails are described by three-dimensional finite element (FE) models. The coupling between the two wheel‒rail contacts (one on each wheel) via the wheelset axle and via the sleepers is considered. The simulation of dynamic vehicle–track interaction is carried out in the time domain using a convolution integral approach, while the non-linear wheel–rail normal contact is solved using Kalker’s variational method. Wheelset designs that are non-symmetric with respect to the centre of the axle, track support conditions that are non-symmetric with respect to the centre of the track, as well as non-symmetric distributions of tread damage on the two wheels (or irregularities on the two rails) can be studied. Time-variant stresses are computed for the locations in the wheelset axle which are prone to fatigue. Based on Green’s functions for stress established using the wheelset FE model, this is achieved in a post-processing step. An extensive parametric study has been performed where wheel–rail impact loads and axle stresses have been computed for different distributions and sizes of tread damage as well as for different train speeds.
Dynamic wheel–rail interaction
wheel tread damage
axle bending stress