Microstructure development of pearlitic railway steels subjected to fast heating

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The influence of soaking and cooling rates on the final microstructure of a R260Mn pearlitic railway steel subjected to fast heating is investigated. Fast-heating experiments followed or not by soaking and cooling at different rates were performed using quenching dilatometry on railway steel specimens obtained from the rail head. Additional cyclic heating and quenching experiments were done to investigate the evolution of the microstructure during thermal cycling, which is relevant for railway applications. The final microstructure is characterized via microhardness measurements, optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The microstructural features are distinguished and the influence of each condition is detailed. The study allows the construction of transformation diagrams during cooling after fast heating. Furthermore, comparison between the final microstructures obtained in controlled laboratory conditions and field White Etching Layers is presented. The obtained results can serve as a guideline for future reproduction of White Etching Layers in laboratory conditions and interpretation of field conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110989
Number of pages12
JournalMaterials and Design
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Fast heating
  • Phase transformation
  • Rails
  • White etching layer


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