Conquering Rolling Contact Fatigue and Gage Corner Cracking

Rolling contact fatigue (RCF) exhausts the ductility of the steel and eventually generates an incipient crack. Rails must be replaced prematurely when they wear faster than RCF generates cracks and most infrastructure owners would like to get the most life possible from their rail. But wheel RCF, if left unattended, can have catastrophic consequences. In the past, the rate of rail wear was fast enough to wear away surface cracks. Today, materials last much longer and these long-lasting assets allow more efficient operations. Longer rail life is possible while running heavier trains, and there is increased crack growth that must be managed to prevent unsafe operations. The simple concept is that the rail will fail due to RCF if there is no wear but asset life is wasted when there is excessive wear. A common measure to optimally manage RCF is to implement a grinding program that removes enough railhead to eliminate the cracks but not enough that good rail is ground away and discarded. Engineers are working on cause and effect while railway management and track crews are monitoring their systems daily to ensure safe and efficient rail conditions. While the tools are not perfect, the crews work continually to try to mitigate the problem.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 24-27
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01487809
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 23 2013 11:39AM