A three-dimensional approach for contact detection between realistic wheel and rail surfaces for improved railway dynamic analysis

Filipe Marques, Hugo Pacheco Magalhaes, Joao Pombo, Jorge Ambrósio, Paulo Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The wheel-rail contact modeling problem assumes a preponderant role on the dynamic analysis of railway systems using multibody systems formulations. The accurate and efficient evaluation of both location and magnitude of the wheel-rail contact forces is fundamental for the development of reliable computational tools. The wheel concave zone might be a source of numerical difficulties when searching the contact points, which has been neglected in several works. Here, it is demonstrated that the minimum distance method does not always converge when the wheel surface is not fully convex, being an alternative methodology proposed to perform the contact detection. This approach examines independently the contact between each wheel strip and the rail, where the maximum virtual penetration is determined and associated with the location of the contact point. Then, an Hertzian-based force model is considered for both normal and tangential forces. The results obtained from dynamic simulations show that the minimum distance method and the proposed methodology provide a similar response for simplified wheel profiles. However, the new approach described here is reliable in the identification of the contact point when realistic wheel profiles are considered, which is not the case with the minimum distance method.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103825
Number of pages28
JournalMechanism and Machine Theory
Early online date12 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Feb 2020


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