RCF tread surface damage on a wheel removed from a car with disabled brakes. (TTCI picture)

TTCI R&D: Effects of Braking on Wheels

RAILWAY AGE MAY 2021 ISSUE: As part of the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Strategic Research Initiatives program, Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) investigated the effects of tread braking on wheel wear and tread surface damage by monitoring the performance of three articulated five-unit well cars and five coal hopper cars with disabled brakes operating in otherwise normal revenue service conditions.

Motes: A New Approach to Equipment Health Monitoring

RAILWAY AGE, OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE: The railroad industry has been monitoring various aspects of rail vehicle health for decades using wayside detectors. These detectors have improved the operational safety and efficiency of the North American rail network, but there are drawbacks: Wayside detectors must be strategically placed to maximize traffic coverage, for example. What if, rather than getting an “inspection” once every eventual passing of a wayside detector, it was possible to continually monitor rail vehicle health in operations?


During a recent two-year period, engineers from Norfolk Southern (NS) and Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) evaluated rail performance on four curves on the NS Whitethorne District, near Roanoke, Va., during two periods of 39 to 40 MGT (million gross ton) traffic accumulation. The objective was to document RCF (rolling contact fatigue) development, rail friction, and rail wear as influenced by the TORFC (top-of-rail friction control) materials NS currently uses. The rails were ground at the beginning of the test and again halfway through the test in April 2017, with the intent of producing similar conditions, after which a 39-40 MGT monitoring effort commenced, each with a different TORFC product.(1,2) The curve rails differed by rail mill, age and wear.