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Non-Linear Transient Dynamic Analysis Of Insulated Rail Joint

Technical Consultant (CAE) REDinvent Technologies Trivandrum-38, India george.john@redinvent.in

Director (Operations) REDinvent Technologies Trivandrum-38, India gopikrishnan.t@redinvent.in

Anoop Kumar
Director (CAE) REDinvent Technologies Trivandrum-38, India anoop.kumar@redinvent.in

Abbreviations: IRJ Insulated Rail Joint; FE Finite Element Keywords: Rail, Altair, HyperWorks, Radioss/Block

Abstract Insulated Rail Joints (IRJs) are prone to failure due to bond failure, delamination of end post or due to battered or crushed end posts. This paper discusses the behavior of the rails and the slanting insulation at the jointed region when a gravitational load of 98 kN and an imposed velocity of 16700mm/s were applied on two wheels which rolls over the rail and the slanting IRJ. The explicit FE method was employed in the dynamic analysis on 3D wheel/rail contact FE model. The stiffness discontinuity of the IRJ structure causes a surface geometry discontinuity during the wheel passage which then causes the impact near the end post. Non linear transient dynamic module of Altair HyperWorks solver Radioss Block 100 was used for the analysis of this rail system.

Insulated Rail Joints (IRJs) are safety critical sections in the signaling system of the rail network. To realize the electrical isolation function, insulation materials are inserted between rail ends secured by the joint bars and bolts. IRJs are also regarded as weak spots of the track structure and posses short service life. This situation stimulates high demand from the rail companies to improve the performance of IRJs. It has also become a recent focus in the international railway engineering research community. To improve the performance of IRJs, understanding its failure mechanism is a priority. There are various failure modes corresponding to different design of IRJs. The railhead metal flow/material fatigue in the vicinity of the end post is regarded as the most common failure mode. As the wheels pass over the IRJs, severe wheel/rail contact impact loads are excited. Under such high level cyclic impact loads of wheel passages, the metal flow/material fatigue is initiated.

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Modeling Philosophy
Altairs HyperWorks CAE suite was used to construct and run the system model. Hyper Mesh was used to read CAD data, form the geometric database and construct some of the component models. All of the models were formulated as RADIOSS Block 100 data decks, which were read into HyperMesh and solved using RADIOSS.

Details of Modeling
The system had both tetrahedral and hexagonal elements representing various individual components. The mesh size of the system at the area of interest, i.e, at the insulation and rail interface, was made finer to capture the results more accurately. The mesh size away from the area of interest was gradually made coarser. The system consisted of two rail wheels, finer model of rail, coarser model of the rail, a slanting insulation, fish plate and glue. The ballast and sleeper of the rail system was represented by means of springs. The bolts were represented by beams and the pretension to the bolt was given by means of spring elements. The wheels, rails, fish plate, glue and insulation was given contact definition using /INTER/TYPE 7 contact card. RBE2 elements were used to connect the wheels to the beams to complete the bolt representation. Johnson Cook Material model was used to represent the materials of steel used for rails, plastic used for the insulation, and the glue used between rails and connecting plates. Front Rail Wheels

Front Rail

Figure 1: Side view of the rail system

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LH Fish Plate

RH Fish Plate

Rail Glue

Figure 2: Front view of the rail system with description of each individual part

Slanting Insulation

Figure 3: Top view of the rail system showing the slanted insulation joint and the adjacent rails

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Process Methodology
The study is to find the effect of the roll of two wheels on the rails and the insulation. Each wheel rolls with a linear velocity of 16700mm/sec exerting a gravitational load of 98kN on each wheel. In the numerical analysis, an angular velocity of 54.57 rad/sec corresponding to the linear velocity of 16700mm/sec was applied at the center of each wheel. This is based on the equation V=RW, where V Linear Velocity, R Radius of the wheel, W Angular Velocity

Figure 4: Representation of the relation between linear velocity and angular velocity.

The wheels were constrained in the translation Y direction. The wheels were applied with only gravitational load without applying any velocity for 50ms to enable stability to the wheel and to avoid wobbling. DYREL card was used to apply damping to account for the spike in Kinetic energy towards the end of 50 ms. The study was conducted on a Intel(R) Core) i3 CPU with processing speed of 3GHz , with installed RAM memory of 4.00 GB and a 64bit operating system.

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Results & Discussions

The von Mises stresses of the end posts of each rail and the insulation was recorded. Contact forces of the wheel, rail top faces and side faces of the insulation were defined in the output list. The forces and stresses of the bolts connecting the fish plates to the rails were found out. Displacement vs. time and von Mises stress vs. time at specific locations on the end posts were plotted to correlate with the physical testing values.

Figure 5a Figure 5 a & b:

Figure 5b von Mises stress plots of front and rear rail faces respectively.

Nodes referenced in output card

Figure 6: Front rail face nodes for which results were invoked in output block

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Figure 7a

Figure 7b

Figure 7 a & b: Displacement vs. time plots of the front rail face nodes

Figure 8a

Figure 8b

Figure 8 a & b: von Mises stress vs. time plots of the front rail face nodes

Nodes referenced in output card

Figure 9: Rear rail face nodes for which results were invoked in output block

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Figure 10a Figure 10 a & b: Displacement vs. time plots of the rear rail face nodes

Figure 10b

Figure 11a Figure 11 a & b: von Mises stress vs. time plots of the rear rail face nodes

Figure 11b

The close correlation of FEA results with field test and strain gauged laboratory experiment results reduces expensive physical testing. This has a positive bearing on cost and time involved in development of rail joints.

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The size and shape of the system under study made it imperative to use tetrahedral elements for discretization. The length of the rail system was 4.5 meters. Client requirement was very fine meshing to the tune of 5mm at the railinsulation interface and to a length of 500 mm from the interface on either side. This made the calculation, a time consuming affair. Use of Irot=1 to speed up the calculation did not have any desired reduction of computation time.

The IRJ analysis did not show any failure of the rails at the end posts. The displacement vs. time and von Mises stress vs. time for specific nodes at the rail faces was matching with field tests. The mesh size influences the results significantly. Accurate results require fairly refined mesh within the interface zone. The 3D wheel/rail contact impact FE model appropriately predicts the wheel/rail contact impacts at the IRJs. Therefore it is suitable to be used to conduct sensitivity study of the design parameters and further improve the design.


The authors would like to thank Mr. Sanal S.S, CEO of Senshin Technologies, Kochi for awarding this project to us. We are also grateful to Altair India customer support team with a special mention to their technical expert Mr. Chandrashekhar P. Hiremath who supported us wholeheartedly, throughout the execution of this project.


Studies on Wheel/Rail Contact Impact Forces at Insulated Rail Joints -------Tao Pang

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