- Project Leader: Dr. Francis Franklin
- Sponsors: EPSRC
- Partners: University of Birmingham
Rail Research UK (RRUK) is an EPSRC-funded virtual centre, a network of UK researchers working on a variety of collaborative railway research projects. NewRail was a partner in the following:
- Project A2 (2003-2006): Laboratory testing and analysis of British normal grade rail steel, and development of microstructural models for predicting crack initiation.
- Project A6 (2006-2010): Development of three-dimensional models of microstructure (see right) crack initiation and propagation in British normal grade rail steel.
- Freight 2035 (2010-2011): Study of alternative freight vehicle requirements, designs and potential applications with a view to reducing carbon impact of freight transport.
More information on Project A6:Three-dimensional Microstructural Modelling of Crack Initiation in Rail SteelBackground:Rolling-sliding, cyclic contact of wheel and rail progressively alters the microstructure of the contacting steels, eventually leading to micro-scale crack initiation, wear and macro-scale crack growth in the railhead. Relating the microstructural changes to subsequent wear and cracking is being accomplished through modelling at three spatial scales: (i) bulk material (ii) multi-grain and (iii) sub-grain. The models incorporate detailed information from metallurgical examinations of used rails and tested rail material. The initial 2-dimensional models representing the rail material are being further developed into 3-dimensional models. Modelling is taking account of thermal effects, and traffic patterns to which the rails are exposed.
Original Project Scope and Objectives:The main aim of the project is to predict rail life based on knowledge of particular rail steel microstructures. This will enable rail grades to be selected appropriately for specific routes, according to traffic / track geometry, in order to minimise maintenance costs. The objectives are:
- To understand and model the three-dimensional nature of the rail steel microstructure and the implications for crack initiation and growth.
- To identify critical factors limiting rail life and suggest rail management to minimise their impact.
- To provide guidance to infrastructure owners and rail manufacturers on desirable rail microstructures for minimising crack initiation and wear.
This work is being undertaken in partnership with the University of Birmingham.