Railhead Damage

Wheelburns

Wheelburns occur where a wheelset has spun with little or no forward movement of the train. Concentrated heat input combined with rapid quenching from the body of the rail leads to localised thermal transformation.  Transformation to martensite may occur, giving rise to brittle particles that are readily detached. Significant irregularities exist opposite one another on both rails. Thermal damage causes both surface and sub-surface cracking.

Whereas cracks resulting from RCF are quite uniform, those caused by thermal damage are more random.