Use of premium rail steel adds value to rail asset management

School of Engineering and Technology
Dr. Nirmal Kumar Mandal
Dr Suntharavadivel Kumaran and Ian Hoather


The performance of rail in high tonnage operations and under high axle loads is affected by RCF, wear of railhead material and material removed by profile maintenance grinding. Head hardened rail (60kg/m) is currently used in heavy haul routes in Queensland, Australia with material properties as presented in Australian Standard AS1085 (2002). It was pointed out that heat-treated eutectoid carbon pearlitic premium steels of 360-380BH with 0.8% carbon content were generally used in such operations. However, super-premium rail steels with a carbon content above 0.9% (called hypereutectoid carbon steels) with hardness of up to 420BH can offer significant improvements in rail performance both in wear on curves, RCF and resistance to other typical deterioration processes such as corrugation. It has a good weldability. As such, some railway operators opt to employ Japanese rail steels with BH 400 in heavy haul operations. As the material behaviours of super-premier rail steels is not yet fully known and readily available in heavy haul operations, this proposed study will yield novel and innovative solutions to Aurizon for better service life of rails. As the superior rail steels resist deformation and maintain rail profiles closely, the operational life span and reliability of it can be increased by 30%. Because of Aurizon's move to Japanese high strength rail steels, there is an opportunity created to work collaboratively with them though this Centre for Railway Engineering (CRE)'s important new study. The research question is: under what conditions should a railway industry apply specific super-premium rail grades? This research is in line with a current initiative of superior rail steels in railroad operations by the International Collaborative Research Initiative (ICRI).

High strength rail steel, Rolling contact fatigue, Finite Element Analysis
March 2021

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