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Bogie Damage: Train or Track?

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A railway system received a new fleet of trains from a major and highly respected supplier. The trains were delivered in three tranches, the first of which was introduced about a decade before the third and last. A section of track between major cities was also rebuilt.

Within two years of the third tranche of trains entering service, and within months of the new line opening, cracks were observed in the bogies of all three sets of trains. No cracks had been observed in the previous decade in any of the bogies of the first two tranches of trains, nor indeed had this problem been experienced on other fleets of the same type of vehicle that operated elsewhere.

An emergency programme of inspection and weld-repair was started to ensure that the trains could continue to operate safely. The supplier instrumented bogies to measure accelerations, strains and track geometry, and undertook modelling of the vehicles with the measured inputs. This work was completed within 6 months of the rebuilt line opening to traffic and only 4 months after cracks were first observed. It quickly identified that track conditions were more severe than those for which the bogies were designed. Nevertheless, the fatigue life calculated using measured inputs was an order of magnitude greater than had been experienced in service.

The root cause of the problem was revealed during a field visit that took place after the measurements and modelling. During this visit, measurements were made using simple equipment that was purchased in a local hardware shop.

This talk is part of the Engineering - Dynamics and Vibration Tea Time Talks series.

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