Rail milling as the next level of rail maintenance technology in Australia
Australia’s complex railway network can suffer from several track condition challenges. LINMAG colleagues, Reinhard Schwarzenberger and Richard Stock, explain how the latest rail milling maintenance technology is helping to efficiently and effectively maintain the Australian rail network.
Australia’s railway network provides a variety of conditions and challenges. Metro lines and commuter trains in the urban centres of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane enable millions of people to commute to and from work daily. Heavy-haul lines in sometimes very remote areas haul ore and coal from the mines to the harbours, and intercity and country services transport people as well as freight across the continent. Furthermore, this is all done on three different gauge systems – narrow gauge of 1,067m, standard gauge of 1,435mm, and broad gauge of 1,600mm.
Especially heavy rail systems, widely seen in Australia, can suffer from several challenges such as plastic deformation of the rail head (e.g. gauge face lipping) and rail wear. A defect that combines both failure modes is called corrugation. This defect manifests in the form of a wave structure on the rail surface, causing elevated noise levels inside and outside of the trains as well as damage to track components. Furthermore, rolling contact fatigue defects like head checks (also referred to as gauge corner cracking, periodic cracks at the gauge corner), spalling, shelling, or squats can drastically reduce the rail life leading to premature rail exchange if not treated correctly.