From the point of view of the railway operator, two kinds of wear are to distinguish:
A lot of uncertain parameters influence the distribution of lateral wear of the wheel profiles, such as wheel and track profile, track irregularities, layout of the line, operation conditions, train performance and contact conditions. Hence, a current project in cooperation with the Bayrische Oberlandbahn, a local train operator, deals with the determination of theses parameters. The wear at the wheels of their train sets is reevaluated calculating the local distribution of the work of friction in the corresponding contact patch in multibody simulations.
Additionally, the consideration of the structural dynamics of the wheel-sets and the rails and the refined contact description presented in Sec. of the Wheel/Rail Interface allows for a detailed analysis of non-uniform wear in longitudinal direction such as corrugation or out-of-round wheels since this type of wear is related to higher frequency ranges.
Using such a model of a vehicle/track-system, it is possible to break down the interrelations that lead to oscillations more detailed than in measurements and identify the main parameters of influence. The mechanism of friction induced oscillation with very high amplitudes of a light railway vehicles in narrow curves could be shown. The result of these vibrations is corrugation of the inner rail with a wavelength of typical 12 to 18cm.
Comprising, the key feature of the approach is the interplay of short time vehicle/track dynamics including the improved modelling of the wheel/rail interface and the long term behaviour of the vehicle and track components subjected to wear. In principle even rolling contact fatigue phenomena could be taken into account this way.
Simulation result: polygonalisation of the wheel.