Switch Panel wear loading–a parametric study regarding governing train operational factors

E. J.M. Hiensch*, N. Burgelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


The acting forces and resulting material degradation at the running surfaces of wheels and rail are determined by vehicle, track, interface and operational characteristics. To effectively manage the experienced wear, plastic deformation and crack development at wheels and rail, the interaction between vehicle and track demands a system approach both in maintenance and in design. This requires insight into the impact of train operational parameters on rail- and wheel degradation, in particular at switches and crossings due to the complex dynamic behaviour of a railway vehicle at a turnout. A parametric study was carried out by means of vehicle-track simulations within the VAMPIRE® multibody simulation software, performing a sensitivity analysis regarding operational factors and their impact on expected switch panel wear loading. Additionally, theoretical concepts were cross-checked with operational practices by means of a case study in response to a dramatic change in lateral rail wear development at specific switches in Dutch track. Data from train operation, track maintenance and track inspection were analysed, providing further insight into the operational dependencies. From the simulations performed in this study, it was found that switch rail lateral wear loading at the diverging route of a 1:9 type turnout is significantly influenced by the level of wheel–rail friction and to a lesser extent by the direction of travel (facing or trailing). The influence of other investigated parameters, being vehicle speed, traction, gauge widening and track layout is found to be small. Findings from the case study further confirm the simulation outcome. This research clearly demonstrates the contribution flange lubrication can have in preventing abnormal lateral wear at locations where the wheel–rail interface is heavily loaded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1384-1404
Number of pages21
JournalVehicle System Dynamics: international journal of vehicle mechanics and mobility
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2017


  • Dynamic train-turnout interaction
  • flange lubrication
  • switch panel
  • wear


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