A numerical study on waves induced by wheel-rail contact

Zhen Yang, Zili Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Recent finite element (FE) simulations have revealed the generation and propagation of waves in rail surfaces induced by wheel-rail frictional rolling. These waves have rarely been addressed in the literature. This paper presents an in-depth analysis of these waves, aiming to give new insights into the contact mechanics, a research area in which waves have generally been ignored. The study first categorises the simulated contact-induced waves according to their generation mechanisms as impact-induced, creepage-induced and perturbation-induced waves. The link between the generation of perturbation-induced waves and the stick-slip contact mechanism is then explored. Next, by examining the rail surface nodal motion that forms the wave, the creepage-induced wave is demonstrated to be a Rayleigh wave; this result also shows that the explicit FE method can effectively simulate physical contact-induced waves and provide reliable dynamic contact solutions. Finally, FE modelling is presented to investigate the effects of surface cracks on the waves, which may contribute to wave-based crack detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105069
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mechanical Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Crack
  • Explicit FEM
  • Rayleigh wave
  • Wave
  • Wheel-rail contact


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