Mechanical properties and wear performance of premium rail steels Academic Article uri icon


  • The railroad industry in the United States of America spends approximately $2 billion USD yearly on rail replacement and repairs. The Transportation Technology Center Incorporated (TTCI), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, Pueblo, Colorado, continuously conducts full scale rail performance tests, which represent a multi-million-dollar investment and take many years to complete. This research paper addresses the development of a simple laboratory technique that can be used as a screening method for rail performance. This method is cost effective and rapid and is intended to be used prior to the full-scale test. The laboratory test consists on a ball-on-disk, pure-sliding experiment. In the present research were used only premium rails from various manufacturers for both, the ball-on-disk and full scale test and the results of both tests are provided in the present paper. The full-scale rail performance test is conducted by TTCI at the Facility for Accelerated Servicing Testing (FAST), which consists of a 4.4 km of railroad heavy haul tracks. The results of both, ball-on-disk and full-scale tests, presented in this paper correspond to the two latest generations of premium (pearlitic) rails and one bainitic rail. Such rails were produced by six rail manufacturers. Both, FAST and ball-on-disk tests showed that under high contact pressures (heavy haul conditions) the bainitic rail does not perform well as the pearlitic rails. Due to the significant differences, in particular dynamic forces, among the ball-on-disk and full-scale tests there is no direct relationship among both tests. Nonetheless, the ball-on-disk test can be used to distinguish wear performance among the two generations of rails tested for the present research; therefore, the ball-on-disk test can be used as a screening method prior to the full scale test. ¬© 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hern√°ndez, F., Demas, N. G., Davis, D. D., Polycarpou, A. A., & Maal, L.

citation count

  • 37

publication date

  • September 2007

published in