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Railways 2014
The Second International Conference on
Railway Technology:
Research, Development and Maintenance
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
8-11 April 2014
Wheel/Rail Contact Tribology
organised by Dr R. Lewis
The University of Sheffield, UK
and Prof. U. Olofsson, KTH, Sweden
Session Aims and Scope
The wheel/rail contact is a crucial component in the successful operation of railways. A large variety of loading conditions and contact geometries exist due to the many different rail and wheel profiles, rail cant and curve radii and railway vehicles running on a network. Contact conditions vary considerably between the two main contact areas: wheel tread/rail head and wheel flange/rail gauge corner, but are usually more severe in the latter, where greater wear and fatigue cracking is seen to occur. Friction and creepage in the contact are also highly variable. Natural lubricants such as humidity, precipitation and leaves can negatively influence the friction in the wheel/rail contact, causing braking problems and wheel slip in traction. These problems can be overcome by using applied lubricants to reduce wear in curves and friction modifiers to increase adhesion. This, however, further adds to the complexity of the wheel/rail contact system.

Effective management of the wheel/rail contact is an important aspect of rail infrastructure operations. All the influencing factors have to be taken into account as they interact closely. For example, measures used to reduce wear, such as lubrication, can influence fatigue and adhesion, and the measures used to increase adhesion, such as sanding, can have a detrimental effect on wear. A fine balance has to be found in determining maintenance schedules and lubrication regimes to keep railway networks running smoothly. Another important aspect is maintenance of the optimum wheel and rail profiles (through grinding) that can help avoid the onset of damage mechanisms.

This session aims at bringing together researchers and experts from various fields reporting on the current state of wheel/rail contact research. The discussion will promote interaction and collaboration among universities, research centres, railway operators and industry in order to propose solutions and indicate directions of future research.

The session will cover, but not is limited to, the following topics:

  • Wheel/rail contact mechanics
  • Wheel and rail material wear, rolling contact fatigue and other damage mechanisms (corrugations, squats, etc.)
  • Management of wheel/rail friction (use of friction modifiers, lubricants etc.), including effective measurement of friction
  • Causes of and overcoming low adhesion problems (traction gels etc.)
  • Third-body layer analysis and the role of oxides in friction levels
  • Noise and vibration generated by the wheel/rail contact and their mitigation
  • Rail grinding: techniques, strategies, effects on noise, and rail failure mechanisms
For specific questions regarding the scope of this session please contact the organisers:
  • Dr Roger Lewis
    The University of Sheffield, UK
    (roger.lewis AT
  • Prof. Ulf Olofsson
    KTH, Sweden
    (ulfo AT

Please note that papers that are found to fall outside the scope of this session may be considered for other sessions.

Abstract Submission
To submit abstracts for this special session, please follow the normal abstract submission procedure but please select "RW2014-S02" when asked "Is this paper part of a special session?"
Continue: Call-for-Papers