Reducing Wheel Climb at Switch Points to Reduce Derailments

This report includes the results of a survey and detailed engineering analysis of international maintenance practices aimed at reducing the risk of wheel climb at switch points, and describes the potential application of these practices for US freight and passenger railways. Several of these practices were analyzed from the perspective of the dynamic load environment of US railroads to include expected lateral (L), vertical (V) and L/V force levels and the associated potential for wheel climb in the switch point areas. A series of hand held gauges to measure various switch point wear conditions was then developed, based on European practice, and then modified to reflect US conditions and practices. These gauges were then taken out into the field for evaluation on a series of switches in various conditions, Several gauges were determined to be of real value in defining poor switch conditions that could potentially result in a wheel climb derailment. These include gauges that looked at several problems commonly seen in US switch points, such as improper flange contact between the wheel flange and the switch point, excessive switch point damage, and excessively worn gauge face of the switch point or stock rail with corresponding sharp profile angle.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $75000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    IDEA Project 23

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Safety Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA)

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Taylor, Chuck

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Delaware, Newark

    Department of Civil Engineering
    301 DuPont Hall
    Newark, DE  United States  19716
  • Principal Investigators:

    Zarembski, Allan

  • Start Date: 20130601
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140401
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37688

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01548249
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: IDEA Project 23
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 20 2014 1:01AM