New insights into the short pitch corrugation development enigma based on 3D-FE dynamic vehicle-track coupled modelling in frictional rolling contact

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A three-dimensional (3D) finite element (FE) dynamic frictional rolling contact model is presented for the study of short pitch corrugation that considers direct and instantaneous coupling between the contact mechanics and the structural dynamics in a vehicle-track system. In this study, we examine the system responses in terms of vibration modes, contact forces and the resulting wear with smooth rail and corrugated rail with progressively increasing amplitude to infer the conditions for consistent corrugation initiation and growth. Wear is assumed to be the damage mechanism, and short pitch corrugation is modeled using wavelengths from field observations of a Dutch railway. The contribution of this paper is a global perspective of the consistency conditions that govern the evolution of short pitch corrugation. The main insights are as follows: (1) the longitudinal vibration modes are probably dominant for short pitch corrugation initiation; (2) during short pitch corrugation evolution, the interaction and consistency between longitudinal and vertical modes should determine the development of short pitch corrugation, and once a certain severity is reached, vertical modes become dominant; and (3) in the case simulated in this paper, corrugation does not grow probably due to not only the different resulting main frequencies of the vertical and longitudinal contact forces, but also the inconsistency between the frequencies of the vertical and longitudinal vibration modes and the resulting wear. It is inferred that in the continuous process of initiation and growth of the corrugation, there should be a consistency between them, and this could be done by the control of certain track parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number807
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • short pitch corrugation
  • development mechanism
  • 3D-FE dynamic vehicle-track modeling
  • vertical and longitudinal track vibrations
  • frictional rolling contact
  • OA-Fund TU Delft

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