Mapping Railway Wheel Material Wear Mechanisms and Transitions

Roger Lewis, Rob Dwyer-Joyce, Ulf Olofsson, Joao Pombo, Jorge Ambrosio, Manuel Pereira, Caterina Ariaudo, Naim Kuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


In order to develop more durable wheel materials to cope with the new specifications being imposed on wheel wear, a greater understanding of the wear mechanisms and transitions occurring in wheel steels is needed, particularly at higher load and slip conditions. The aim of this work was to draw together current understanding of the wear mechanisms, regimes, and transitions (particularly with R8T wheel material) and new tests on R7T wheel material; to identify gaps in the knowledge; and to develop new tools for assessing wear of wheel materials, such as wear maps, that can be used to improve wear prediction. Wear assessment of wheel materials, as well as wear rates, regimes, and transitions, is discussed. Twin disc wear testing, used extensively for studying wear of wheel and rail materials, has indicated that three wear regimes exist for wheel materials: mild, severe, and catastrophic. These have been classified in terms of wear rate and features. Wear rates are seen to increase steadily initially and then level off, before increasing rapidly as the severity of the contact conditions is increased. Analysis of the contact conditions in terms of friction and slip has indicated that the levelling off of the wear rate observed at the first wear transition is caused by the change from partial slip to full slip conditions at the disc interface. Temperature calculations for the contact showed that the large increase in wear rates seen at the second wear transition may result from a thermally induced reduction in yield strength and other material properties. Comparisons made between discs and actual wheels have provided some support for the theories relating to the transitions observed. Wear maps have been produced using the test results to study how individual contact parameters such as load and sliding speed influence wear rates and transitions. The maps are also correlated to expected wheel—rail contact conditions.
This improved understanding of wheel wear mechanisms and transitions will help in the aim of eventually attaining a wear modelling methodology reliant on material properties rather than on wear constants derived from testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-137
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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