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Analysis of Rail Ends under Wheel Contact Loading

Authors: Manicka Dhanasekar, Nannan Zong


The effect of the discontinuity of the rail ends and the presence of lower modulus insulation material at the gap to the variations of stresses in the insulated rail joint (IRJ) is presented. A three-dimensional wheel – rail contact model in the finite element framework is used for the analysis. It is shown that the maximum stress occurs in the subsurface of the railhead when the wheel contact occurs far away from the rail end and migrates to the railhead surface as the wheel approaches the rail end; under this condition, the interface between the rail ends and the insulation material has suffered significantly increased levels of stress concentration. The ratio of the elastic modulus of the railhead and insulation material is found to alter the levels of stress concentration. Numerical result indicates that a higher elastic modulus insulating material can reduce the stress concentration in the railhead but will generate higher stresses in the insulation material, leading to earlier failure of the insulation material

Keywords: stress, Finite Element Method, Rail end, material interface, wheel-rail contact

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